Briefly, this is the story of Steve Ellul, the fund manager who began his career at Bank of Valletta in 2013, and today, paid up to €100,000 a year for being the face of Miriam Dalli’s public entity, “Project Green”. You can see him below posing with a group of employees of the entity he runs for the 1st of May. It’s definitely not normal and typical for public executives to upload photos of themselves daily on social media with the Minister or with other people to promote themselves. In fact, Steve Ellul’s public post is only meant to propel him into the public sphere so as to prepare him for elections. He is also part of Miriam Dalli’s team vying to succeed Robert Abela’s administration.
Steve’s story is very simple. He entered the bank when its top posts were handed over to Labour appointees and eventually became Miriam Dalli’s consultant, and then a head of a public entity in preparation for a political career. It’s also unusual for someone in the finance and banking industry to start a political career this young because most of the people who go into finance do so because it’s an amoral and dreadless industry which promises money and opportunity, although reality in Malta is very different. Typically, someone in business or finance would go into politics after they would have made their money already, and not when they would be just starting out. However, Malta’s finance industry is besotted with low wages and is not meritocratic as one would expect, especially the funds industry which is mostly unprofitable or insignificant. Even in his top role at BOV, I doubt whether Steve would have earned a net salary higher than €40,000 per year, and such a figure is a joke for a fund manager, but then again BOV’s funds are also some kind of non-performing joke.
I see Steve’s journey into politics as self-interested, but mostly because it is unprincipled and based on career ends instead of a political mission. Miriam Dalli needs a team of people as she plans for long-term succession plans, while Steve, who probably got disillusioned by the lack of opportunities in Malta’s finance and banking industry decided to take a better salary and move into politics: his price to join Miriam Dalli’s team is €100,000 a year. I am definitely sure that Steve would have never risked becoming a public figure whilst preparing himself for a political career if Miriam Dalli offered him the same salary he got at BOV.
This is all very odd for someone becoming a politician because it gives the wrong incentives for people to join politics and it is also part of the culture and mentality of many young people who today aspire to enter government jobs or join the Labour Party as their incentive is purely financial and monetary. It’s also a very tragic and vicious cycle which is morally corrupting Malta’s youth where young people are facing ever more increasing struggles to buy a property and obtain decent-paying jobs while the Labour Party offers them a multi-pronged solution for all their problems by joining the Party and vying for government jobs through their political connections in the Party.
It’s all very sad, really.