Members and salaries for government boards remain shrouded in secrecy

The composition, identities and remuneration for members of dozens of government boards and committees remain hidden from the public, as an information wipe-out on official websites and documentation remains in place despite assurances by Prime Minister Robert Abela that it is temporary.

The removal of online information on the boards’ composition and secrecy surrounding a remuneration scheme for board and committee members effectively obscures the identities and payments given to the taxpayer-funded officials.

The situation raises questions about the government’s commitment to transparency, further confirming the increased information clamp-down under Abela’s administration.

Until early 2023, the government website, www.gov.mt, included the names of hundreds of individuals appointed to boards and agencies. An information wipe-out in May of that year saw the removal of the individual’s names, leaving only a list of government boards and committees with no further information.

Following the wipe-out, Abela had pledged the data would be re-instated following a website “modernisation” process “in the coming weeks,” in response to a parliamentary question by opposition MP Joe Giglio.

The government’s website has since remained bereft of any information on officials appointed to the government boards, with no updates or ‘modernisations’ being made.

Meanwhile, the remuneration scale for government appointees on its boards and committees remains shrouded in secrecy.

A government manual on the computation of salaries for public officials does not delineate payments to officials appointed to government boards, referring to a framework found in a separate government manual.

A manual delineating payments for public service officials refers to a separate framework for the remuneration of government board members.

The Shift’s freedom of information request for that framework, entitled the “Manual for Setting the Categorisation, Classification and Remuneration of Government-appointed Boards and Committees,” was rejected by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

The OPM claimed the information is not available to the public since the framework is considered a cabinet document. The Shift has appealed the FOI response, prompting an ongoing investigation by the Information and Data Protection Tribunal.

The Shift has reported how the OPM has spent hundreds of thousands of euro on paying the members of dozens of boards. The boards and committees are filled with individuals already in senior government positions or those considered loyal to the Labour Party in government.

Research by The Shift has confirmed that in some cases, individuals are appointed to several boards concurrently, receiving multiple paychecks for their positions.

Civil service sources have claimed these individuals use the honorarium to top up their annual financial packages while their board ‘duties’ are incorporated into their daily workload.

                           

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4 Comments
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Nigel Baker
Nigel Baker
1 month ago

The government are ingenious at devising new ways to milk the country dry for personal financial gain. It obviously can’t continue indefinitely, but, for the time being, there are one hell of a lot of people laughing all the way to the bank!

Mick
Mick
1 month ago

Omerta has many forms, as can be seen.

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

Members on government boards and committees should be subject to a formal published due diligence process and should also, like corporate directors, be subject to joint and several liability and criminal action for wrongdoing and mismanagement.
They should also abide by ethical rules of conduct and independence.

Philip Micalleg
Philip Micalleg
1 month ago

In countries I worked in not only are the salaries of the board members posted on the website but after each board meeting a summary of items and decisions taken at board are posted on website.

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