Fenech Adami acts swiftly to appoint
- two new ministers and four parliamentary secretaries
Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami lost no time in announcing
the cabinet that will herald Maltas entry into the European Union.
Just 24 hours after being sworn in as prime minister, Fenech Adami unveiled
the team of 13 ministers and five parliamentary secretaries, which includes
a mixture of veterans and new faces.
Absent from the swearing in ceremony at the Palace in Valletta yesterday
were former ministers Antoine Mifsud Bonnici, Michael Refalo, Josef
Bonnici and parliamentary secretary George Hyzler.
Mifsud Bonnici was not appointed to a cabinet post despite being elected,
while Refalo, Bonnici and Hyzler failed to get elected on Saturday.
Two former parliamentary secretaries, George Pullicino and Jesmond Mugliett,
were elevated to the post of ministers, while Dolores Cristina, Frans
Agius, Tony Abela and Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici were appointed parliamentary
secretaries for the first time.
Talking to the press soon after the ceremony was over, Fenech Adami
said that he had the duty to act swiftly given the short time frame
between the election and the signing of the accession treaty.
Fenech Adami left for Greece yesterday afternoon and is expected to
sign the accession treaty today.
The Prime Minister expressed his confidence that the persons chosen
to head the various ministries formed the right team to face the challenges
Asked about the demotion of Antoine Mifsud Bonnici, who was parliamentary
secretary in the outgoing administration, Fenech Adami thanked the veteran
politician for his 11-year service but defended the decision taken,
citing "changed circumstances" as a reason. The Prime Minister
did not rule out the possibility of appointing a minister or parliamentary
secretary for European Affairs. "Possibilities always exist,"
he answered when asked by this newspaper.
Meanwhile, The Malta Financial and Business Times took the initial reaction
of a number of ministers after the ceremony was over.
Finance Minister John Dalli, who now also heads the former economic
services ministry, said that the new ministry brings together the economy
and finance, two important aspects that are intertwined.
Parliamentary secretary in the same ministry, Tony Abela, said that
the post was challenging but said that he was capable of fulfilling
the duties entrusted to him. "I still have to find my office,"
he said visibly satisfied with the post entrusted to him.
The second parliamentary secretary within the new super
ministry, Edwin Vassallo, was happy that the self-employed were now
part of the finance ministry.
"I am now closer to the structures that matter and
that gives me greater strength to implement measures that help cut down
on the bureaucracy for self-employed persons," Vassallo said.
New minister George Pullicino, entrusted with the daunting task of heading
the all-important environment and rural development ministry expressed
his satisfaction with the trust shown in him by the Prime Minister.
For the first time agriculture and fisheries have been grouped together
with the environment.
Jesmond Mugliett, appointed minister for culture, the arts, youth and
sports also expressed his satisfaction at the creation of a new ministry
under his wing. "The new ministry encompasses a wide range of sectors
but it is an important shift because it means there is a person in cabinet
who is solely focussed on culture, sports and youth," Mugliett
Newcomer Dolores Cristina was overjoyed by her appointment as parliamentary
secretary in the ministry of social policy. "I am full of energy
and ready to go," she said. "I will endeavour to dedicate
as much resources to people who are most in need, especially in the
housing sector. As regards women I intend pushing for the implementation
of the law on domestic violence," Cristina said forcefully.
The other newcomer in the social policy ministry, Frans Agius, a doctor
also expressed his satisfaction at the appointment. "I intend continuing
on the good road adopted by my predecessors," Agius said.
The new cabinet sees Francis Zammit Dimech taking up the tourism ministry
while long-standing agriculture minister Ninu Zammit is now entrusted
with the ministry for resources and infrastructure.
Austin Gatt heads a new ministry comprising information technology and
government investments. Gatts selection to head this ministry,
which includes all government-owned corporations, is seen as crucial
given the need to reform faltering State entities.
Louis Deguara retained his post as health minister, as did Giovanna
Debono who continues to head the Gozo ministry.
Lawrence Gonzi retained his post as deputy prime minister and minister
responsible for social policy while Tonio Borg was entrusted with Justice
and local councils in addition to home affairs.
Parliamentary secretary Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici is expected to head the
justice sector within Borgs ministry.
Censu Galea retains the transport and communication ministry while Louis
Galea hold on to education. However, the education ministry is now bereft
of culture, sport and public broadcasting that have passed on to different
Foreign minister Joe Borg retains his role after a very successful run
at the polls.