Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi’s father has been tasked with a government process to interview and select Air Malta employees wishing to find alternative employment within the public sector, the Times of Malta is informed.
Lawrence Mizzi, who has been appointed by the government as chairman of Resources Support and Services Limited (RSSL) – is personally interviewing Air Malta employees and telling them of vacancies in government departments.
When contacted, Mr Mizzi, 66, a former Air Malta employee, admitted that he was involved in the process as chairman of the State company, but insisted the fact that he was the father of the minister responsible for Air Malta may not necessarily pose a conflict of interest.
“It is true that I am interviewing Air Malta employees to find them alternative jobs with the government. However, no one told me that I might have a conflict of interest,” he said.
When the Times of Malta pointed out that the fact that no one had complained did not mean that his position did not pose a clear conflict of interest, Mr Mizzi insisted that he didn’t agree this was the case.
On his part, a spokesman for Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi did not reply to questions on whether Mr Mizzi had a conflict of interest with his father’s role in the selection process.
While confirming that the minister’s father was part of the selection process, the spokesman did not give any reaction on whether this was a case of conflict of interest.
Neither did he comment when asked on if the situation could be in breach of the ministerial code of ethics which precludes close relatives of a minister to be involved in anything to do with the responsibilities under his watch.
I couldn't even criticise my employer
A number of Air Malta employees expressed concern with the Times of Malta about the awkward situation. “I was shocked to find the minister’s father asking me questions about my job at the airline,” an Air Malta employee said.
“I didn’t even feel at ease replying to questions as I couldn’t even criticise my employer in the presence of the minister’s father. This apart from having colleagues who went first to speak to the minister before attending the interview with his father,” another employee said.
According to an agreement signed two weeks before the last general election, certain categories of Air Malta employees were offered the option of either joining an early voluntary redundancy scheme or finding alternative employment with the government.
Despite that the airline is in dire straits, with the last published financial statements showing millions of euros in losses, the government offered very generous pay-outs to those opting for the scheme reaching up to €130,000 per employee.
In spite of criticism that this was a form of State aid on the eve of a general election, the government insisted that the payments would be paid by the ailing company and not from the State coffers.
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