Ministers and parliamentary secretaries in the previous Cabinet pocketed a total of €1.67 million in controversial pay rises and have refunded €300,000, according to a reply to a parliamentary question.

They were paid a total of €1,331,318 between May 2008 and December 2010 and an additional €355,558 between January 2011 and January 2012, the Government said.

Meanwhile, they refunded €299,566.

In May 2008, the Cabinet decided ministers and parliamentary secretaries would earn their MP’s honorarium over and above their salary.

It also decided to increase the honorarium for its members to €26,700 from €19,100, though not other MPs.

The raise, together with an additional increase in their duty allowance, amounted to around €600 a week.

When the news emerged in 2010 and the Government came under fire even from its own backbenchers, then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi decided to revert to the old honoraria rate in January 2011.

Ministers and parliamentary secretaries were allowed to keep their second salary but asked to refund the difference between €26,700 and €19,100.

In effect, the Cabinet went from earning a raise of €600 per week to €500 per week.

Amid further criticism over the lack of transparency and poor implementation of the raises, ministers and parliamentary secretaries were forced to give up their second pay in January 2012, when Dr Gonzi also announced a reshuffle. This time, ministers and parliamentary secretaries were not ordered to refund the money.

During the 2013 election campaign, Labour journalists often asked PN officials whether all ministers had refunded what they owed to the public.

The real figures emerged yesterday when the Prime Minister replied to a parliamentary question by Labour MP Chris Agius, who asked for the full amounts to be disclosed.

Before being elected to power, the Labour Party promised not to raise politicians’ salaries throughout this legislature but pledged to set up an official mechanism to review the salaries and make recommendations to be implemented at a more appropriate time.

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