16 APRIL 2003

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Fenech Adami acts swiftly to appoint cabinet

- two new ministers and four parliamentary secretaries appointed

Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami lost no time in announcing the cabinet that will herald Malta’s 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.
Swift decision
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 ahead.
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 said.
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. Gatt’s 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 Borg’s 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 ministries.
Foreign minister Joe Borg retains his role after a very successful run at the polls.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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