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The Malta Employers Association (MEA) has called for full transparency on persons employed with Government on a person of trust basis, which refers to individuals employed by the state without a call for applications.

Under successive Nationalist Party (PN) and Labour Party (PL) Governments, persons of trust remain a contentious issue because of the secrecy surrounding their appointments.

The MEA’s statement comes after a series of Parliamentary Questions submitted by PN MPs to Government Ministers on the number of people engaged on a person of trust basis, how much they earn annually and when their contracts are set to expire.

Ministries have repeatedly refused to share details, and, when Parliamentary Speaker Anglu Farrugia was pressed for a ruling on this, he stated that he is unable to force ministers to disclose such information.

On the issue, the MEA issued a strongly worded statement, saying it has stressed the importance of transparency surrounding such positions in the interest of good governance.

“Government is duty bound to be accountable on how tax payers’ money is being used,” it said.

The MEA said it is “incongruous that on the one hand Government is so secretive about people in its own employment, and on the other pushes for pay transparency and equal pay for work of equal value in the private sector.

“This position casts serious doubts on the manner in which these persons are recruited and also their output.”

The Association added that in many cases, employees have left productive employment in the private sector to take up lucrative positions in the public sector, and being paid substantially more than what is allowed in the public sector salary structure, for doing practically nothing.

The MEA appealed for consensus between the political parties on this matter so that abuses are curbed irrespective of who is in power.

It also noted that several proposals have been made by the MEA about this matter over recent years, including setting a limit of the number of persons that can hold such positions, full disclosure of remuneration packages, qualifications held, and periodical auditing to assess whether such persons are actually fulfilling assigned tasks and the time they have spent on them.

“It is understandable that Government must engage persons on this basis, but this cannot be used as a premise for cronyism to a privileged circle of people.”

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