Last Budget for Edward Scicluna, Labour insiders say, as reshuffle beckons

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna could be expected to resign in the coming weeks, with the Prime Minister’s chief aide Clyde Caruana taking his place in Cabinet

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna could be expected to resign in the coming weeks, with the Prime Minister’s chief aide Clyde Caruana taking his place in Cabinet.

Yesterday both Caruana and Labour MEP Miriam Dalli, the latter a vice-president of the Socialists in the European Parliament, were confirmed as Labour’s newest MPs after being co-opted by Robert Abela to take up the seats vacated by Joseph Muscat and Etienne Grech.

Edward Scicluna could be expected to present his eighth and last budget tomorrow, having been made finance minister in 2013 when Labour was elected to power.

READ MORE: Robert Abela co-opts chief aide Clyde Caruana, MEP Miriam Dalli to Parliament

It is unclear whether Scicluna will just step down as minister or resign from parliament, which will prompt a casual election on the 7th District.

Sources close to government told MaltaToday that Scicluna, who turned 74 last week, had indicated to people close to him his desire to step down from minister in the aftermath of his testimony in the Caruana Galizia public inquiry.

Scicluna had testified that he was not kept abreast of decisions and projects undertaken by Projects Malta, which fell under Konrad Mizzi’s remit, a stand contradicted by the testimony of his ministry’s permanent secretary Alfred Camilleri.

Having successfully captained a turnaround in the country’s finances, Scicluna was in the line of fire for acquiescing to the excesses of the Muscat administration. He signed off on the €340 million government guarantee to the Electrogas consortium, and the financial services regulatory entities that fell within his remit were criticised by European institutions for their failures to clamp down effectively on money laundering.

Scicluna joined the PL shortly after Muscat became leader in 2008 and was elected MEP in the 2009 European election on a Labour ticket. He was elected on two districts in national elections held in 2013 and 2017.

Meanwhile, his place will be taken by Caruana, who is an economist and was involved in the Jobs Plus strategy drawn by the Union Ħaddiema Magħqudin before the 2013 election that both major parties signed up to.

Caruana was appointed head of the government agency JobsPlus after 2013 and piloted the free childcare scheme introduced in 2014. He was also the chief architect of Muscat’s economic policy that saw an influx of foreign labour.

He was the Labour mayor of Żabbar between 2006 and 2009.

The Labour MEP Miriam Dalli has also been touted for a Cabinet post that could come in the way of a super-ministry for energy, transport and climate change. “I was called to contribute actively back home in Malta and I couldn’t say no to my country,” Dalli told Politico on Sunday. “I am proud of the work I did in the past years with the S&D in the European Parliament and I will continue pushing for a progressive agenda wherever I am... I am looking forward to this challenge because I want to make sure that what we fought hard for in the European Parliament becomes a reality in our member states.”

The new faces will mean that certain under-performing ministers and parliamentary secretaries may face the chop or return to the backbenches.

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