[WATCH] Prime Minister announces Cabinet of Ministers

Justyne Caruana replaces Anton Refalo as Gozo Minister • Konrad Mizzi tasked with 'saving Air Malta' • Cabinet members include five newcomers

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announcing Cabinet of Ministers (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announcing Cabinet of Ministers (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this afternoon announced his Cabinet of Ministers, which will include two new parliamentary but also two fewer ministers.

Muscat said that due to a long agenda of parliamentary work, the first session of the legislature would take place on Saturday 24 June with parliament potentially meeting until the first week of August. 

He reiterated that his choices were based on the competence of the MP in question, their personal result in the general election, as well as parliamentary experience and the need for even representation of all Malta’s citizens.

Among the most unexpected changes was the demotion of Anton Refalo, who will no longer be Gozo minister, and his replacement by Justyne Caruana. Refalo was elected on the first count with over 4,800 votes.

This is the full list of Cabinet appointments:

Joseph Muscat (OPM), Prime Minister, financial services, digital economy and innovation

  • Silvio Schembri, parliamentary secretary for Digital Economy, Financial Services and Innovation.   
  • Julia Farrugia, parliamentary secretary for reforms and citizenship. Muscat said that, in addition to the citizenship scheme, Farrugia would also be overseeing reforms such as the possible introduction of parliamentary gender quotas and full-time MPs, as well as the Cannabis reform.

Chris Cardona, minister of economy, investment, small business and competition

Evarist Bartolo, minister for education and employment

  • Clifton Grima, parliamentary secretary for youth and sport

Joe Mizzi, minister for energy and water management

Helena Dalli, minister for EU affairs and equality.

  • Aaron Farrugia, parliamentary secretary for EU funds and social dialogue. Muscat said that Farrugia would be tasked with continuing where Ian Borg, his predecessor had left off, by securing a 100% of the EU funds available to Malta. Moreover, he said he would also oversee government dialogue with entities such as the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) and the Malta EU Steering and Action Committee (MUESEC)

Edward Scicluna, minister for finance. Scicluna’s portfolio will remain the same and will have oversight of the National Development Bank and as well as Malita Investments added to it, said the Prime Minister.

Konrad Mizzi, minister for tourism. Muscat said that Mizzi would be taking former tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis’ portfolio, which includes finding a strategic partner, or other solution for Air Malta. Asked whether Mizzi’s appointment went against Muscat’s stated priority of unifying the country, given that he was a very divisive figure, the Prime Minister insisted that unity also meant “respecting the position of the majority”. He added that Mizzi could not be criticised on his competence and that he would be applying the same skills that turned Enemalta around, to saving the national airline.

Michael Farrugia, minister of home affairs

Owen Bonnici, justice, culture and local government

  • Silvio Parnis, parliamentary secretary for local government
  • Deo Debattista, parliamentary secretary for consumer affairs and Valletta 2018. Debattista’s portfolio will include the Medicines Authority, as well as V18 and its legacy beyond 2018.

Jose' Herrera, minister for the environment and resources

  • Clint Camilleri, parliamentary secretary for agriculture, fisheries and animal welfare

Chris Fearne, minister of health

Carmelo Abela, minister of foreign affairs and promotion of trade

Ian Borg, minister for transport, infrastructure and capital projects, including planning and property market. At the age of 31, Borg has been handed what could be described as a super-ministry given that it will be administering one of the biggest budgets.

  • Chris Agius, parliamentary secretary

Justyne Caruana, minister for Gozo. Asked about the fact that Refalo had been left out of his cabinet, Muscat implied that Refalo had indicated that would not want to occupy any position other than Gozo minister.

Michael Falzon, minister for family and social solidarity

  • Roderick Galdes, parliamentary secretary for social housing
  • Tony Agius Decelis, parliamentary secretary for disabled and elderly persons

Byron Camilleri, government whip

Robert Abela, PM's personal legal consultant (to attend cabinet meetings)

Keith Schembri, chief of staff. On Schmebri’s being reconfirmed as chief of staff, Muscat said that he had been consistent from the start in saying that Schembri would resign the moment formal criminal proceedings are started against him, while insisting that he had understood that country was demanding higher standards of the government. 

Asked about the editorial of l-Orizzont yesterday, where the paper appeared to be singling out journalists for their opposition to the government, Muscat said he did not agree with the language used, however did not elaborate further. 

Moreover, the Prime Minister said he would be having a discussion with the President of the Republic regarding the President’s address at the opening of parliament. Muscat said he had taken not of criticism in the past and would be having “an exchange of ideas” with the President which would hopefully lead to a speech that was not too political.