Direct order grants Justyne Caruana ministerial salary lost through resignation

Miguela Xuereb

A government department has chosen to issue a direct order through which former Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana will receive €48,000 for a year’s worth of legal services; an amount roughly equivalent to the ministerial salary she renounced when she resigned last January.

Caruana had been confirmed as Minister for Gozo when Prime Minister Robert Abela announced his Cabinet on January, only to resign in disgrace within days after it was revealed that her husband, former deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta, had travelled abroad with Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech when the businessman was already a person of interest in the murder investigation.

The direct order was published on the Government Gazette on Tuesday, a fact highlighted by another Gozitan MP – Chris Said – in Parliament on the same day. He noted that while the government was claiming to implement reforms desired by the Venice Commission, it conveniently overlooked its recommendation not to award such contracts or other top posts to government MPs.

The Government Gazette listed all the direct orders awarded by the Lands Department in the first six months of 2020, highlighting that Caruana was awarded a €48,000 contract on 9 June.

The amount is just slightly less than the €50,862 salary government ministers will receive this year according to the 2020 Financial Estimates.

Caruana’s earnings, however, have also been boosted further this year when she was appointed to chair two parliamentary committees: the newly-established Committee on Gozo Affairs and the Committee for the Consideration of Bills. Committee chairs are entitled to a higher parliamentary honorarium than their peers.