The former CEO of Transport Malta, Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi, admitted that he could not manage the transport regulator as required and was forced to cut short his three-year appointment.
Pointing a finger at Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia, Curmi said there were severe divergences with the minister and he had to leave his post.
“I find the role of CEO at Transport Malta as one where I was in the driver’s seat in which I direct the organisaton in the way I deemed fit. Once I was not able to do this, I left the post,” the former army chief said.
Questioned during a parliamentary grilling to explain the reason why he was removed from his post barely a year after his appointment, Curmi said that Minister Farrugia wanted to remove him and offered him another post of CEO in another government entity.
“I did not accept the new post. Later, the prime minister offered me a post of ambassador abroad, and I accepted,” Curmi said.
Curmi was given his political appointment at Transport Malta directly by Prime Minister Robert Abela with direct instructions to “lead with integrity”, he said.
However, his experience was cut short after a few months, with Minister Farrugia insisting on removing him and the prime minister agreeing with him.
Curmi said he tried hard to make things work better at the transport regulator, including implementing various initiatives to reduce direct orders of contracts – running into millions. However, he said he could not continue as he was removed prematurely.
Illegal promotions at the army
Grilled by Karol Aquilina and Adrian Delia during a session of the Public Appointments Committee, discussing his latest political appointment to ambassador to The Netherlands, Curmi admitted that his three consecutive promotions from army major to commander in less than six months between July and December 2013 were unprecedented.
He said that it was the minister at the time, Manuel Mallia, who made such decisions, and he should not answer for Mallia’s choices even though he was the main beneficiary.
At the same time, Curmi dismissed the Ombudsman’s conclusions that the process was a ‘vitiated political process of the first order’ and illegal, stating that he does not agree with the Ombudsman’s conclusions.
During his eight years at the helm of the army, Curmi, who is closely connected to disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, was involved in a series of other mass promotions exercises at the army, with hundreds issued just a week before the 2017 general elections.
At the end of the grilling, the Committee approved Curmi’s nomination to act as an ambassador to The Netherlands, with the government MPs voting in favour and the opposition against.
None of the Labour MPs asked any questions to Curmi during the session.