Joseph Muscat’s order to grant disgraced minister Konrad Mizzi the €80,000 a year tourism consultancy contract was in breach of several laws and ministerial ethics, Standards Commissioner George Hyzler wrote in a damning report.
“In my view, Dr Muscat’s instruction for Dr Mizzi to be engaged as consultant is a: discretionary power that represented an abuse of powers as laid down in Article 22 [of SiPL Act]; a breach of ministerial ethics that obliges ministers to see that departments and entities under their purview are managed properly and diligently; a breach of ethics where ministers are required to exercise the highest level of diligence on public funds,” it read.
According to the document, Muscat instructed the chairman of the Malta Tourism Authority Johann Buttigieg to grant Mizzi the consultancy upon his resignation.
Hyzler warned that Buttigieg was therefore also complicit in the breach of law.
However, Muscat defended his action, arguing that during the December crisis which saw the resignation of his Chief-Of-Staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, he acted within his powers to grant Mizzi the consultancy because “government’s responsibility was to give the tourism industry continuity.”
Standards Commissioner Hyzler pointed out that Muscat acted outside his role, because it is the MTA’s board job to decide on such recruitment.
“These entities are not there to serve as cover for potentially abusive behaviour by ministers. Ministers must distance themselves from decisions on workers’ employment and contract awards due to the peril of favouritism or non-meritorious awards,” the report read.
Muscat rubbished all accusations that the decision was unethical.
Mizzi was awarded a contract just after his resignation as Tourism Minister, which included a salary of €6,700 per month, international medical insurance for his entire family and an executive-level car and driver, which Mizzi could forgo for a sum of €11,400 per year.
The contract was terminated by Robert Abela soon after a complaint by Green Party leader Carmel Cacopardo filed a complaint.
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