An office being used by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at Sa’ Maison is part of the severance package granted to him when he stepped down, Prime Minister Robert Abela confirmed on Thursday.
Attention to the office was drawn when it was revealed that the police searched the property at the same time as they searched Muscat’s house in Burmarrad last month.
Abela was replying to questions from journalists in Marsaxlokk. He did not disclose further details about the severance package, claiming details had already been given.
Muscat resigned in January 2020. His office is located in a secluded part of St Maison hill.
It forms part of the Transport Malta building but has a separate entrance and driveway.
The prime minister’s office has consistently blocked information about the precise terms of the severance package.
Times of Malta had filed a freedom of information request about the package in January 2020, shortly after Muscat stepped down as prime minister.
Instead of citing a legal reason under the FOI Act not to hand over the exact information about the termination agreement, the prime minister’s office said that “no specific agreement exists”.
“It is to be noted that all ministers and parliamentary secretaries who are no longer members of cabinet benefitted from [the] same scheme,” the PM’s office said.
During the press conference, Abela failed to clearly say whether he was informed by police about the planned raid on Muscat’s home.
He instead turned his guns on opposition MP Jason Azzopardi, saying it was clear the MP knew about the planned raid.
The prime minister also failed to give a straight answer about the cost of the glitzy film awards held last Saturday.
Abela claimed the cost of the awards is already in the public domain.
A budget of €400,000 was allocated to the awards last year, but the lavish event, which included a 'film week' in the lead up, is expected to have cost far more than the original allocation.
'A state takeover from beyond the political grave' - David Casa
In an initial reaction to the prime minister's confirmation that Muscat is using an office provided by the state, Nationalist MEP David Casa said whoever resigned in disgrace usually sought a rock to hide under.
But Abela had inherited an embattled government and was still forced by Joseph Muscat to find him an office from taxpayers' coffers. "It is a state takeover from beyond the political grave," he said.
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