24 September 2003

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It’s good to be... a minister

By Kurt Sansone
Francis Zammit Dimech’s ministerial portfolio has been a varied one from infrastructure to communications, from transport to environment and now tourism. His ministerial record may not be an impeccable one, but the same cannot be said of his business acumen.
The annual declaration of assets by ministers and parliamentary secretaries that was submitted in parliament on Monday, clearly puts Dr Zammit Dimech at the forefront of investment savvy MPs.
Dr Zammit Dimech’s investment portfolio is a diversified lot comprising investments with different levels of risk.
The tourism minister has shares in a number of companies that are listed on the Malta Stock exchange including, International Hotel Investments, Datatrak Holdings, Globe Financial Management, Corinthia Finance plc, Tumas Investments, Farsons, Malta International Airport and CC Car Parks Ltd. He also has investments in a number of bonds and funds including the Global Bond Fund Plus, government stock, HSBC European Equity Fund and the La Valette Far East Opportunities Fund.
And with an income of Lm16,897 and the ownership of an office in St Julian’s and an apartment in Sliema, it’s good to be Francis Zammit Dimech.
Minister for Investments and IT Austin Gatt competes with Rabat notary and parliamentary secretary Tony Abela for second spot. But with Dr Abela opting for the more traditional type of investments in the form of bank deposits, second place for diversity goes to Austin Gatt.
Dr Gatt has shares in Middle Sea Insurance and Bank of Valletta. He also has investments in government stock, a British War Loan, an unspecified Danish investment, Valletta Capital Growth Fund and the Wignacourt Malta Fund. He also has interests in a number of properties. Dr Gatt’s bank deposits total Lm12,400 and with an income of Lm19,300 Dr Gatt is a force to reckon with.
On the other hand, Notary Tony Abela is probably the most well-off among his fellow ministers and parliamentary secretaries with investments being bank deposits in different currencies. Dr Abela has deposits in the Canadian Imperial Bank, the National Savings Bank of Scotland and Barclays Bank. Locally, he has foreign and Maltese currency accounts in both HSBC and BOV. Foreign currency denominations include Canadian and Australian dollars, Sterling and Maltese Liri.
He also has shareholding in Maltacom and two other private companies apart from innumerable properties.
With an income of Lm39,067 and an overdraft facility of lm300,000 Dr Abela certainly has it going well for him.
The most disappointing of the lot is Parliamentary Secretary Edwin Vassallo. The man, who encourages self employed and small enterprises to harness the entrepreneurial spirit, is not much of a risk taker himself. Mr Vassallo’s investment portfolio is a risk-free bank deposit of Lm37,349. He also owns a shop, an apartment, a maisonette, two warehouses and boasts an income of Lm20,261.
Mr Vassallo’s conservative investment attitude is paralleled by that of the Prime minister. Dr Fenech Adami has a bank deposit of Lm32,891, even though he owns shares in a couple of companies.
Foreign Minister Joe Borg is the only person to declare the income of his wife apart from his personal income and investments. And in a macabre twist to all the money bandied about, Transport Minsiter Censu Galea and Interior Minister Tonio Borg saw fit to declare ownership of family graves.
But income and investments is not all that ministers are about. Some do have pending bank loans, in the majority being house loans.
Minister George Pullicino tops the list with an outstanding loan of Lm19,000 followed by Francis Zammit Dimech with Lm16,477.
Parliamentary secretary Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici has a pending loan of Lm15,368 and Minsiter Jesmond Mugliett a loan of Lm13,121.
The other ministers with outstanding loans are Louis Galea, Censu Galea, Tonio Borg, Dolores Cristina and Frans Agius. Their loans are all below the Lm10,000 mark.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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