The head of the Public Service, Mario Cutajar, has been given an unprecedented second job, over and above his role as Principal Permanent Secretary, boosting his annual pay by an additional €19,000, The Sunday Times of Malta can reveal.
Malta’s public service boss, who is selected and appointed directly by the Prime Minister, also serves as a member of the board of directors of Heritage Malta, the government agency responsible for the upkeep of Malta’s cultural heritage.
Apart from his membership of a government board, which falls under the remit of another permanent secretary – a subordinate of the office of the Principle Permanent Secretary – Mr Cutajar was also given powers to act as an ‘executive director’, in practice making him more powerful than the chairman of the same agency.
This unique situation, which does not exist in any other government organisation or agency, is also reflected in differentiated remuneration afforded to the other directors of Heritage Malta.
While the chairman, a sitting Labour MP and former Gozo Minister Anton Refalo, receives a remuneration of €16,306 for his role, Mr Cutajar is earning €19,000 annually for his role.
The other members of the board of directors, which include Labour TV journalist (Leanne Abela Grech) and the president of Labour’s veterans’ section (Anthony De Giovanni) receive €3,600 for their role as directors.
Senior public services officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mr Cutajar’s role conflicts with his role and duties as Principal Permanent Secretary.
“The PPS should be the one leading by example and it does not make sense for him to involve himself in another remunerated role which he is duty bound to supervise. This is unheard of,” they said.
He should be leading by example... This is unheard of
A former permanent secretary who also asked to remain unnamed, confirmed that until 2013 permanent secretaries who used to occupy a position in public boards, only used to do so on those related to their ministry and without getting extra remuneration.
“This was part and parcel of our job and permanent secretaries are paid and given extra allowances to dedicate their whole time to their job. The Principal Permanent Secretary is already the highest paid civil servant as it should be,” he said.
However, Mr Cutajar, a former deputy general secretary of the General Workers’ Union, sees nothing wrong.
The Department of Information, which replied to questions sent to the PPS said: “Mr Cutajar’s role as an executive member at Heritage Malta is not only limited to his attendance to board meetings but also specifically to oversee projects related to the agency”.
Heritage Malta has tens of full-time executives on its payroll, including a chief executive officer.
According to the Public Administration Act, one of the roles of the Principal Permanent Secretary, who is only answerable to the Prime Minister, is to “uphold and promote the public administration values and the Code of Ethics, and monitor the compliance of public employees”.
Before the Labour Party returned to power in 2013, Mr Cutajar worked at Heritage Malta in a managerial position.
However, his contract was not renewed, and relations soured with the former agency’s administration.
After filing a case of discrimination, the Employment Commission in 2017 decided that Mr Cutajar had suffered political discrimination where his managerial contract was not renewed.
And last week, in his role as PPS, Mr Cutajar published a report declaring that there was nothing wrong for sitting MPs to be given other jobs within the public administration.
The report, which elicited criticism by the Opposition and the former dean of the University’s Faculty of Laws, was drawn up in reaction to harsh criticism levelled on this practice by the Commissioner for Public Standards.
Mr Cutajar, 61, was appointed head of the civil service by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on the first day of Labour’s election in 2013.
In the past he worked in the private secretariat of prime ministers Dom Mintoff and Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici and was a parliamentary assistant to Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield when he served as an MEP.
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