PM mum on Muscat’s role in Mizzi’s €80,000 MTA contract

robert abela
Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Prime Minister Robert Abela neither confirmed nor denied that his predecessor Joseph Muscat was responsible for the granting of a controversial €80,000-a-year contract to former minister Konrad Mizzi, which was rescinded shortly after being made public this week.

Sources had told that Muscat had approved this contract in his capacity as Prime Minister and Tourism Minister, but when asked on the matter, Abela said that he had not looked into the matter, stating simply that he had decided that the contract should be rescinded as soon as he found out about it.

Muscat had taken over the tourism portfolio after Mizzi’s resignation last November. Within two weeks, the Malta Tourism Authority Mizzi had been politically responsible for provided him with the lucrative consultancy job.

The contract was revealed by the Times of Malta on Monday evening, shortly after government nominated Mizzi to head the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. That decision immediately created an outcry, and the motion was withdrawn: Jean-Claude Micallef was appointed to head the delegation in Mizzi’s stead.

Abela was also asked about the proposed parliamentary post for Mizzi, and said that public uproar was taken into consideration when the motion was withdrawn. He said that it was important to ensure good governance and that nothing would damage Malta’s reputation.

Yesterday evening, outside Parliament, Abela had said that together with Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli, he had worked to ensure that Mizzi’s consultancy contract would be rescinded. The two developments concerning the former minister had led civil society to organise a protest outside Parliament yesterday, but Abela insisted that he did not see any need to hold a protest, though he emphasised that he respected people’s right to organise one.