Sai Mizzi Liang, the Energy Minister’s wife, is receiving around €160,000 a year in her role as Malta Enterprise’s envoy to Asia.
These estimates were calculated after the government published her contract last Monday, almost a year after it was signed and after repeated requests by media and the Opposition.
This newspaper is also informed that this is the first time Malta Enterprise, the island’s investment promotion agency, is paying one of its employees a financial package equivalent to that of an ambassador.
Sources close to Malta Enterprise said until Ms Mizzi Liang’s direct appointment last year, the agency’s employees working in overseas missions “were not even paid half as much as what Sai Mizzi Liang is earning”.
Ms Mizzi Liang lied when telling the Maltese media that her basic salary was about €3,000 a month
Last week, when Times of Malta confronted Ms Mizzi Liang with the Opposition’s claims that she was given a political appointment with an income of some €13,000 a month, she said she was earning much less.
“I have something like €3,000 a month. I think a person with a normal IQ won’t believe I get €13,000 because I’m a government employee and each tier has its own salary,” she had said in brief comments to this newspaper during the Prime Minister’s trip to China. Looking visibly nervous and struggling to hold back her tears, Ms Mizzi Liang had also claimed she was the best person for the job and she was merely being attacked because she was Chinese.
However, according to the published figures, Ms Mizzi Liang’s financial package amounts to some €160,000 a year, even though this includes allowances and is not fully paid in cash.
Together with a salary of more than €73,000 a year, more than half of which is non-taxable, Ms Mizzi Liang also receives a representation allowance of €3,261 a year; a child allowance for her two siblings of almost €3,000 a year; a fully paid ambassadorial-level residence; an official car with fully paid expenses and fuel; and the full reimbursement of the use of her mobile phone (see table).
Apart from this, Ms Mizzi Liang’s contract entitles her for the payment of private schooling for her children – up to €18,783 a year; 90 per cent reimbursement of medical, dental, ophthalmic care for all members of her family; a one-time settling-in and outfit allowance; and 15 free flight tickets between Malta and Beijing for all members of her family, 10 of them being business class.
Times of Malta had first revealed the story of the direct employment of Ms Mizzi Liang by the government agency back in September, just two weeks after she had signed the contract at the end of August.
Despite various requests made since then, the government and Malta Enterprise always resisted calls for the publication of her contract, until it changed course last Monday. The government had come under harsh criticism for giving a political appointment to one of his minister’s spouses. No call was made by Malta Enterprise for Ms Mizzi Liang’s post, as is normally done and she was directly headhunted for the post by Malta Enterprise chairman Mario Vella.
Economy Minister Chris Cardona, who is politically responsible for the agency, had told Times of Malta he had “no idea” about the minister’s wife appointment.
In a statement the Opposition said documents tabled in Parliament showed that Ms Mizzi Liang lied when telling the Maltese media that her basic salary was about €3,000 monthly.
In reaction, the government criticised the Opposition’s negative stand against the role of Ms Mizzi Liang who was tasked with bringing investment to the country.
To prove its point that her contract and payslip showed she was paid like other ambassadors, the government published the contracts of 11 other ambassadors who had similar pay packages over the years.
What Sai Mizzi Liang’s contract costs taxpayers
|Outfit allowance payment||€310|
|Rental of fixed telephone service and payment of 20% of calls||€500*|
|Fully expensed mobile phone||€1,000*|
|Flights reimbursements (business class)||€10,000*|
|Fully paid residence||€36,000*|
|Fully paid official car and fuel||€10,000*|
|TOTAL per annum||€159,917|
|TOTAL over three years||€479,751|
|TOTAL per month||€13,326|
*Based on very conservative estimates compared to other ambassadors’ perks.
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