Civil service head Mario Cutajar announces retirement

Principal permanent secretary appointed in 2013 and former GWU trade-unionist will retire in September

Principal permanent secretary Mario Cutajar (File photo)
Principal permanent secretary Mario Cutajar (File photo)

Civil service chief Mario Cutajar has announced that he is retiring from his position as Principal Permanent Secretary at the end of May.

During a press conference titled ‘Investing in quality’ as part of the 2022 Public Service week, Cutajar said that he informed Prime Minister Robert Abela of his desire to retire last September.

“We spoke and the PM told me he wanted me to end the legislature and help a new government find its feet. I respected the decision but now I feel that it’s time to leave the position and for someone else to take over,” Cutajar said.

Cutajar was appointed Cabinet Secretary in March 2013 and Principal Permanent Secretary a month later. He spent a total of 46 years working in public service.

“I learnt a lot through this journey. I never had any ambitions of reaching such positions but I will leave it with great privilege,” Cutajar said.

“When we look back, we realise that we have changed the public service. We changed the way public service is provided and never have so much changes been conducted in so little time,” Cutajar said.

Visibly emotional, Cutajar thanked everyone present for their support.

“We need to consolidate the quality but I am convinced that this is what will happen. I will leave this position satisfied and pleased that together we managed to overhaul the public service. I am convinced that I will be leaving the public service better than how I found it,” Cutajar said.

Cutajar said people should be the main focus and that the success of the public service work could be calculated through the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society. 

He said that the Eurobarometer surveys showed that 70% of the Maltese public was satisfied with the service. "We should be satisfied but not pleased. This is higher than the European average but there are countries that perform better. We have to look forward and analyse the improvements people expect from us."

Prime Minister Abela thanks Cutajar for his service

Prime Minister Robert Abela thanked Cutajar for his work, saying that in him he always found a man, “who offered honest and sound advice – a loyal, well-read, and cultured man with who it’s a pleasure to discuss ideas. He is always focused on what he wants to achieve and how to implement it.”

Abela said the public service had been strengthened in the past ten years and thanked the civil servants for their service during "such difficult times".

“We always had one aim - that of providing a service of excellency. The reforms started less than a decade ago and we conducted radical transformations. Remember that we inherited a very different service,” Abela said.

Asked on the person replacing Cutajar, Abela said that on Monday he would be putting forward a name in front of cabinet for discussion. Abela said that the Public Service Commission would then act on the recommendations of the cabinet.

"This person has loads of experience in the public service management and the necessary credentials to oversee the required reforms in public service," Abela said.