Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg is spending tens of thousands of euros to employ a personal photographer full-time while touring the globe.
Through an unprecedented contract, seen by The Shift, Ian Borg employed Ray Attard – a personal friend and a former photographer with newspapers l-Orizzont and Malta Today.
Signed in May, just a few weeks after Borg was relegated to the foreign ministry and away from the tender-rich transport ministry, Attard’s contract stipulates that he must work a 30-hour a week with Minister Borg and get paid €25 an hour or a minimum of €3,200 a month.
Attard is not required to be at the ministry all the time as he “shall send a signed attendance sheet or a signed detailed record of work performed endorsed by top management” together with his monthly invoice.
A copy of the first invoice sent by Attard for his services in May shows that despite signing the contract on 18 May, he still charged the ministry for the whole month without giving any details of his services.
Just a few weeks after the signing of his contract by Christopher Cutajar, the foreign ministry’s permanent secretary, Attard was on a plane accompanying the minister, first to Brasilia for meetings with representatives of the Brazilian government and then to New York, where he participated in the uncontested election of Malta to the United Nation’s Security Council.
Pictures of Ian Borg taken by his personal photographer were prominently published by the mainstream newspapers and posted on Borg’s personal social media pages promoting the young Dingli politician.
Sources at the foreign ministry confirmed that the ministry had never had any similar contract in its history. “The ministry, as all other government entities, always uses the services provided by the Department of Information when it needs to take images or videos. There is no work for a full-time photographer in any ministry, and that is why the DOI exists.”
The Shift is informed that no other minister, not even the prime minister or his office, employs the services of a photographer on a full-time basis.
Asked for a list of members of the minister’s delegation to Brazil and the US last June, the foreign ministry said that the minister was only accompanied by his photographer, while other members joined later. The ministry said it was still compiling the costs forked out by taxpayers for this latest trip.
Before being handed the latest contract by Ian Borg, Attard spent years working at Malta’s Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels on a full-time basis.
While a job was ‘created’ for him when Malta held the EU Presidency during the first half of 2017, his contract was suddenly turned into a much longer assignment, with Attard spending years as a full-time photographer in Brussels, funded by taxpayers.
Earlier this week, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana asked ministers to reduce costs by at least €200 million this year to try to control the country’s debt.