The National Statistics Office will have a new director general, incumbent Michael Pace Ross having been told his contract will not be renewed.

A notice in last Friday’s Government Gazette said Joe Bonello had been temporarily appointed.

Mr Pace Ross yesterday confirmed the Malta Statistics Authority had informed him a new call for the post would be issued as his contract had expired.

He declined to comment further. Mr Pace Ross joined the NSO in 1998 and was appointed director general in November 2008.

The development comes weeks after Finance Minister Edward Scicluna criticised the NSO harshly over the reclassification of workers.

Last September, the statistics watchdog issued revised data on the gainfully occupied population, pointing out that a comment made in an NSO news release issued on September 11 was “not correct”. The NSO had said that public administration and defence, compulsory social security and administrative and support service activities contributed most to the increase in employment.

This prompted fierce criticism from the finance minister, who accused the NSO of not giving a true picture of the employment situation in the public sector.

Prof. Scicluna insisted there was no spike in public sector employees, arguing that the reported increase was due to a new method of classifying government workers. Mr Pace Ross rejected such claims, saying that no government employee had ever been classified in the private sector. Nevertheless, from this data it transpired that jobs in the public sector had increased by about 2,000 since the change in government in March of last year.

In October of last year, Prof. Scicluna also criticised the NSO’s methodology to measure inflation, saying it had contributed to “ongoing misinformation” about the economy.

The following day he ordered a probe, this time regarding an error in the compilation of GDP figures.

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