Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti
Some €30,000 of public funds earmarked to buy children’s books for government libraries before the end of the year will now be used to refurbish Norma Saliba’s new office at Chateau de la Ville in Valletta.
Saliba, who resigned as head of news at the state broadcaster following disputes with politically-backed CEO Mark Sammut, was given a freshly created role as the executive head of the National Centre for the Maltese Language by Culture Minister Owen Bonnici.
Instead of facilitating improved literacy among Maltese children, The Shift discovered that the money would now be used for new tiles and furniture in Saliba’s new working quarters, following a decision from Bonnici’s ministry.
Furthermore, another €30,000 will be taken from the Cottonera Foundation’s government funding allocation to create a working budget for Saliba in her new role, following a decision by Permanent Secretary Joyce Dimech on the direct instructions of Bonnici.
Asked by The Shift to state why funds intended for libraries are being used for Saliba’s office refurbishment and whether these will somehow be compensated to the libraries department next year, Dimech did not respond.
Dimech is already entangled in a number of scandals at Bonnici’s ministry. She also declined to give details about the budget line available for Saliba after the rushed decision to create a new position for her following her fallout with PBS Executive Chairman Mark Sammut.
Sources at the culture ministry told The Shift that following Bonnici’s decision to handpick Saliba and create a post for her, Dimech has quickly accommodated the former PBS head of news, providing her with all she requested.
“Unlike what normally happens to similar requests by many of the ministry’s staff, Joyce Dimech rushed to ‘obey her master’s’ instructions and find a new office for Saliba at a building in Archbishop Street, currently housing the culture directorate,” the source said.
“Since Saliba did not like the tiles in the old Palazzo, Dimech took funds from other entities, so Saliba’s wishes to change the tiles and furniture are seen to.”
So far, Saliba is rarely present at her office despite her €73,000 financial package.
Controversy erupted last July when Bonnici suddenly enacted a legal notice to create a new public sector role for Saliba to operate as the executive arm of the Council for the Maltese Language.
The minister did not consult the Council and imposed Saliba despite the fact that she has no specific qualifications or experience in the Maltese language.
Rejecting her appointment, the Council asked the minister to reverse Saliba’s appointment or face legal action. So far, despite a formal judicial protest, it is not yet known whether the Council has launched its court case.
In the meantime, a member of the Council told The Shift that there is no contact between them and Saliba.