Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has called for an extensive public debate and studies into potentially increasing the salaries of MPs, describing the topic as a “very delicate one”.
Muscat was interviewed on ONE in the wake of a critical report by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler into the practice of granting government jobs to backbenchers. Hyzler warned that this practice is “fundamentally wrong” as it undermines the independence of MPs, but said it could well be linked to the low salaries of parliamentarians.
“We are studying this report, its conclusions and any potential counter-arguments against them,” Muscat said today. “As the Commissioner himself noted, it wasn’t this government which started giving government jobs to backbenchers, but rather [former Prime Minister] Lawrence Gonzi] when he started appointing MPs as parliamentary assistants or chairpersons of government entities. Indeed, there are some consultancies that were given to PN MPs which are still in place till this day.”
“The Commissioner is also proposing an increase in MPs’ salaries, a very delicate issue that definitely cannot be carried out behind people’s backs as the last PN government had done [when it increased ministers’ salaries by €500 a week].”
“There must be a public discussion and studies in this regard before the government will take a position.”