‘Not true’ that PS salaries doubled – Standards Commissioner

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

It is not true that Parliamentary Secretaries saw a doubling of their salaries between 2017 and 2018, the Commissioner for Standards and Public Life, Dr George Hyzler has said.

The Commissioner carried out of the investigation following a complaint by Professor Arnold Cassola over an alleged increase in salaries paid to Parliamentary Secretaries and fraud committed in government statements on salaries.

In his report, Hyzler says that allegations of Parliamentary Secretaries’ salaries doubling was not correct, adding that the reported figures associated with Parliamentary Secretaries Deo Debattista and Silvio Schembri, had occurred in mid-2017 when they took up the roles. Their salaries for the year had been approximately half that of 2018.

The Commissioner added that there had been a collective agreement signed between the Government and the Unions representing the employees in 2017. PS salaries were tied to the highest salary scale of public office, that being the Prime Minister and President among others. The salaries had thus increased in 2017.

PS salaries: Increased due to adjustments; not in secret – PPS

From the report, Hyzler compares the salaries of Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries between 2013 and 2019. Ministers had been earning €53,093 per year. Parliamentary Secretaries were earning €50,680 a year. In 2019, salaries had reached €56,267 and €53,974 respectively. This shows an increase of 6% and thus should not be considered significant given it was an increase over six years, Hyzler says.

Referring to the point about the criticisms against the government’s announcement of the increase, the Commissioner says that it might be true that no statements were made that the collective agreements would increase the salary of the President of Malta , Judges, Ministers and other public positions, the collective agreement of 2017 was given a lot of publicity.

‘The collective agreement was given considerable publicity when it was signed, so it cannot be said that increases were given surreptitiously,’ Hyzler explains.

What the Commissioner does pick up on it’s the controversy surrounding the government’s incorrect statements on August 17th that there hadn’t been an increase. However, he also points out that there had been a clarification from the Principal Permanent Secretary.

‘This was due to inattention rather than a deliberate attempt to deceive, and in any case it was corrected immediately… On 19 August 2019 the Principal Permanent Secretary held a press conference in which he gave a detailed explanation of the changes to the salaries of ministers and parliamentary secretaries.’