Former Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, who in 2017 lost his place in Cabinet after failing to make it to Parliament on his own steam, is being paid another €600 a month from government coffers, this time through direct orders awarded to him by his successor at the Tourism Ministry, Konrad Mizzi.
Following a Freedom of Information request submitted by this newspaper to get a copy of the two new separate contracts, given to Dr Zammit Lewis just two months after the last general elections, the Tourism Ministry turned down the request.
The government justified its actions by quoting provisions in the law which precludes the publication of information already in the public domain, in this case submitted to Parliament.
Despite Dr Mizzi’s assertion, Times of Malta is informed that no such contracts, as requested, have been submitted to Parliament.
No such contracts submitted to Parliament
The only information given to the House of Representatives, upon questions by former PN leader Simon Busuttil on the subject, relate to a reply by Dr Mizzi, that Dr Zammit Lewis was earning €200 and €400 a month from the Malta Film Commission and the Malta Film Fund through legal consultancy contracts signed for the duration of two years.
According to Dr Mizzi, the contracts were given to the Labour MP in August 2017 by the two entities which, ironically, fell under the direct political responsibility of Dr Zammit Lewis when he was Minister just two months earlier.
The Times of Malta has now filed a second request for a copy of the contracts under the FOI act.
The two government contracts to Dr Zammit Lewis are the latest in a series of direct orders awarded to the Labour MP by government entities.
Last week, The Malta Government Gazette published a new direct order given to Dr Zammit Lewis, with a value of €13,600 a year to provide “legal assistance on Identity Malta’s reform”.
The government backbencher, one of the most vociferous supporters of Dr Muscat, was already awarded a similar contract in 2017, which established a rate of €100 an hour for his services at the agency falling under OPM remit.
Also, through another contract, taxpayers are forking out €4,300 a month to Dr Zammit Lewis to act as a legal adviser to the Ministry for Water and Energy, headed by his former Cabinet colleague Joe Mizzi. Last March, Dr Zammit Lewis was also put on the payroll of the National Development and Social Fund, responsible for administering the proceeds from the sale of passports by the government.
The Fund agreed to pay a fee of €90 an hour or a minimum of €45,000 a year to Dr Zammit Lewis and his partner in this contract, lawyer Veronique Dalli.
Dr Zammit Lewis has also been put on the list of lawyers serving the Lands Authority, managed by former Labour CEO James Piscopo.
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