The Malta Independent 14 April 2024, Sunday
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PM's wife's business partner on €5,000 a month MTA retainer in New York, others are paid more

Monday, 9 May 2016, 19:47 Last update: about 9 years ago

Michelle Buttigieg, the business partner of the Prime Minister’s wife, is on a €5,000+ a month MTA retainer but is paid less than people doing similar work in other countries, according to Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis.

Replying to a parliamentary question by PN MP Antoine Borg, Dr Edward Zammit Lewis said Michelle Buttigieg is not an envoy and is not an employee of the Malta Tourism Authority. She is a professional in the tourism industry who had been engaged locally in New York to represent the MTA for marketing and promotion of Malta in the states.

Ms Buttigieg has a retainer fee of €5,083 a month. The amount has not changed since the start of the contract. Since Ms Buttigieg is not an MTA employee there are not additional expenses incurred by the authority.

Dr Zammit Lewis said the MTA has other representatives, including in the Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, Spain and Scandinavia. All of these receive substantially higher packages despite New York being more expensive to live in. The agreements with these other representatives were drawn up in 2011/2012 and remain unchanged.

If the MTA were to employ someone and send them to New York to do the same work Michelle Buttigieg is doing the costs would be much higher. This would include salary, allowances, health insurance and possibly also school fees. In fact, the last time that MTA had an office in New York, in 2004, the authority dished out €7300 a month in salary – which is 40% higher than what Ms Buttigieg gets.

The tourism minister said that by engaging Ms Buttigieg, the MTA had put someone back in NY after an absence of 12 years. This was having a very positive effect. The MTA won the Silver Award in three categories in the Travvy Awards, which were held in New York. One of the awards – the Most Innovative Tourism Executive Europe award – was in fact won by Ms Buttigieg herself.

Other figures that point towards a success in this field are the number of people from the United States who have visited Malta over the past four years. The number of visitors in 2012 was 18,027. By 2015 it had increased to 26,073. 

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