Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
Disgraced former Labour Party MP Rosianne Cutajar, ousted from her parliamentary group over several scandals, has filed a flurry of parliamentary questions over opposition Nationalist Party MPs public sector positions.
Just weeks after the latest report by the National Audit Office (NAO), uncovering her “phantom job” as a consultant to Pierre Fenech, the CEO of the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS), Cutajar asked 34 parliamentary questions in two weeks to opposition MPs about their government jobs.
Cutajar asked Prime Minister Robert Abela and other ministers to supply details about opposition MPs’ recruitment, working conditions, hours of work, days of leave, and sick leave, and whether they had any special employment conditions, such as working from home.
She did not file similar questions to her former colleagues in Labour’s parliamentary group, who also hold full-time jobs within the public sector.
Cutajar insisted that the government should say whether opposition MPs are present for all their working hours and said their timesheets should be presented to parliament.
Ministers have generally ignored most of Cutajar’s requests, providing general replies and not giving in to her demands for private data.
As Malta’s House of Representatives is a part-time institution, Cutajar also held a full-time job while tending to her parliamentary duties, like most other MPs.
Before Prime Minister Robert Abela made her a parliamentary secretary, Cutajar was given a full-time job as commissioner for the Simplification of Bureaucracy.
With some €50,000 in perks and salary, Cutajar did not even have a physical office, and her job was abolished as soon as she joined the executive.
Before becoming MP, when acting as major of Qormi, Cutajar was also given a job as a communications coordinator at Castille, working closely with then-chief of staff Keith Schembri.
This week, Abela, currently under pressure due to polls showing a significant drop in his popularity, has stated that he is reconsidering his position on Cutajar, indicating that he is mulling her return into his parliamentary group.
In April 2023, Abela publicly stated that Cutajar had no future inside his party.
21 MPs are public officers
Aside from the 27 Labour Party MPs who hold executive positions such as ministers or parliamentary secretaries at an annual expense of some €21 million, there are another 19 MPs, six from the government and 13 from the opposition, who also hold full-time public sector jobs.
The situation changed slightly since Cutajar launched her parliamentary questions as her former colleague MP Glenn Bedingfield, who was also chairman of the Kottonera Foundation, and Omar Farrugia, chairman of Sports Malta, have now been made parliamentary secretaries.
According to unwritten rules, MPs working in the public sector are generally permitted to take ‘special leave’ from their place of work whenever they have political duties to attend to.
These ‘rules’ have been used and abused by many MPs over the past decades from both sides of the house and MPs have rarely been needed to fulfil the requirement of working a 40-hour-week in their public sector role.
In the case of Cutajar, a teacher by profession, the NAO found that apart from her full-time government job as an anti-bureaucracy commissioner, she was given a ‘phantom’ consultancy job at the ITS, pocketing another €24,000 a year.
Pierre Fenech never explained why Cutajar was recruited or why he broke the rules to give her the position.
Instead of sacking him, Abela said he was just “obeying ministerial orders”.
So far, police have yet to take action against Cutajar and Fenech.