19 April 2006

The Web
Business Today

Ministers should be the “factotum” of everything - Vassallo

Kurt Sansone

Edwin Vassallo, parliamentary secretary for the self-employed, joins the chorus of people who want ministers to have a more driving role in decision making, similar to the system of government adopted in the eighties whereby administrators were the factotum of their respective ministries.
In a frank interview with Business Today, Vassallo says that politicians are there to take decisions. “We have to evaluate whether we want to go back to the time when the politician decided everything himself. I agree with that type of system,” Vassallo says.
Asked about the custom adopted by politicians to blame bureaucrats for most of the country’s ills, Vassallo insists that the politician needs to know what is happening “inside out.”
“The organisation has to be flat rather than vertical with easy access to the politician. This is why my office doors are always open because I try and make it easy for people to have access to me.
“I believe in the hands on approach to politics whereby the politician can take immediate action and decide things in the quickest time possible,” the Mosta politician says.
Vassallo acknowledges the controversial past that led then-Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami to push for a system whereby mundane decisions are taken by independent authorities.
“Given our negative past experience of politicians who took every decision themselves, Eddie Fenech Adami had wanted a system that created a new space between politicians and the executive. This is the philosophy that led to the creation of different authorities and levels of bureaucracy.
“I personally prefer the system where the politician is the factotum of everything. It allows the politician to know exactly what is happening and be with his feet on the ground.”

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