The Malta Independent 23 October 2019, Wednesday

Muscat now says Neville Gafa works as a coordinator at the Office of the Prime Minister

Monday, 8 July 2019, 17:45 Last update: about 5 months ago

PM Joseph Muscat has now said that mystery diplomat Neville Gafa is employed as a coordinator within the Office of the Prime Minister. A few days ago, Muscat had said that Gafa is a government employee but that he did not know which ministry employed him.

Replying to a set of Parliamentary Questions by PN MP Simon Busuttil, Muscat said Gafa was employed as a Customer Care Assistant in the Ministry for Health between June 2013 and April 2014. At the time he was employed on salary scale 11.

Between April 2014 and December 2018, Gafa was employed as a Projects Director with the Foundation for Medical Services. Gafa was then employed as a coordinator within the Office of the Prime Minister since January of this year, a position he still holds.

Asked for details about Gafa’s salary, Muscat referred to the Engagement of Staff for Ministers’ Secretariats document, which states that OPM coordinators are employed on Scale 6 – which means a gross yearly income of €25,227. He also has an overtime allowance of 20 percent of Scale 7 (€4,684), a car allowance of €1,864 and a telephone allowance of €1,165.

Asked for a description of his duties, the PM simply referred to Gafa’s role as a coordinator.

The PM also said there was only one occasion when Gafa formed part of a government delegation on visits to Libya.

Gafà is a Labour Party activist and who was allegedly involved in a medical visas racket linked to Libyan refugees and was subsequently sacked by the Health Ministry.

In June this year, an image of Gafa emerged showing that he had been on hand for at least one diplomatic meeting in Tripoli between Malta’s Ambassador to Libya, Charles Saliba, and Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq, at which Malta said it was willing to re-open its embassy in Tripoli.

About is, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had confirmed that Gafa was in Tripoli on behalf of the Maltese government, adding that he had known about the trip, but insisted that he did not know which ministry employed Gafa.

“He is employed by the government but I don’t know what his contract says because it is not available to me at this moment," Muscat had told journalists.

Gafa also caused a stir last December when he held diplomatic talks in Tripoli as "a special envoy of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.” This had also been seen in pictures uploaded on various Libyan social media and newspaper websites.

When contacted by this newsroom, at the time, and asked why Gafà had been in Libya and whether he held a diplomatic passport, Foreign Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela had insisted that Gafà is not employed by his Ministry and that he does not hold a diplomatic passport.

Questions sent last month to Foreign Affairs Minister Carmelo Abele and to Neville Gafa remained unanswered but Abela had later said Gafa formed part of a government delegation. The minister, however, would not say which ministry Gafa was employed with.

Last week, The Malta Independent sent questions to Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar, asking him which ministry employed Gafa and for a copy of the diplomat’s contract. These questions remained unanswered and the information was then requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

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