Illegal, unethical, abuse of power: Standards Commissioner on Mizzi’s tourism consultancy

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life George Hyzler stated that ex-Prime Minister (PM) Joseph Muscat’s decision to employ Konrad Mizzi as a consultant following his resignation as Minister for Tourism was illegal, unethical and an abuse of power.

Mizzi was awarded the contract as a consultant within the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) two weeks after his resignation as Minister for Tourism. The contract came with an €80,400 yearly pay, and other benefits. The contract was terminated by the Government following its reveal in the media on the 27th of January 2020. Carmel Cacopardo then went on to submit a complaint to the Commissioner.

The Commissioner found that Mizzi was awarded the contract on Muscat’s instruction, who was PM at the time, and was acting as Tourism Minister. He gave his instruction to the CEO of the MTA, not the Chairman. Muscat justified this instruction by referring to article 6(1) of the Public Administration Act, which allows Ministers to issue instructions on anything to all entities that fall under his remit.

However, the Commissioner found that this article does not apply to the MTA since the law the regulates the MTA bestows far less powers on the Minister. The Minister can only issue instructions on policies and plans of the Government, and obligates the Government to publish their instructions. The Public Administration Act states that in the case of conflict, all other laws that regulate government entities supersedes the Act Therefore, the Commissioner concluded that what Muscat did was illegal, and an abuse of power.

Furthermore, it was also bad practice for a Minister to go over the heads of the board, even where article 6(1) applies. Decisions on employment and contracts ought to be given where merited, not as political favours. Therefore, the Commissioner recommends that article 6(1) of the Public Administration Act be revised.

However, the final decision on the case is in the hands of the Parliamentary Committee for Standards in Public Life. Therefore, the Commissioner referred his report to the Committee, recommending that it publish the report as soon as possible in the interest of transparency. The Committee has discussed the report in private, but has postponed its decision on whether it agrees with the conclusions reached.

The full report can be consulted here: