The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Updated (3): Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri to remain at Castille; Mallia returns to Cabinet

Gabriel Schembri Thursday, 28 April 2016, 16:33 Last update: about 4 years ago

Konrad Mizzi has been removed from the position of health and energy minister but will retain the title of minister and will work under the PM’s ministry with responsibility to carry out special projects.

Konrad Mizzi will also be resigning from the post of deputy leader of the Labour Party and a new election will take place.

This was announced in a hastily-convened press conference given by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at Castille, who said that the Panama Papers scandal has hurt the government and decisions need to be taken.

Chris Fearne has been named as Health Minister, while Prime Minister Muscat will take over the energy portfolio. He said he will be giving Konrad Mizzi special tasks, and the first one is the implementation of the power station. Dr Fearne tweeted that he is humbled by his new appointment and visited staff and patients at Mater Dei as his first appointment.

Leo Brincat has resigned the post of Environment Minister to be nominated for the European Court of Auditors. He will take up the position that was initially offered to Toni Abela who however did not pass the judgment of the European Parliament's budgetary committee.

Jose Herrera has been elevated to minister of the environment, and will be relinquishing his portfolio as parliamentary secretary for competitiveness.

Manwel Mallia returns as minister of competitiveness. He had been sacked by the PM follwing an incident involving his driver in 2014.

No action has been taken against Keith Schembri, who will retain his position as OPM chief of staff. Dr Muscat said that Mr Schembri is not a person who was elected publicly.

Dr Muscat said he took these decisions after a period of reflection and before the publication of a tax audit report that has been commissioned by Dr Mizzi. The Prime Minister said that the investigations might take months to conclude but he decided to take this decision now, before its conclusion.

He said that the decisions were taken in the best interest of the country.

Nobody has implied any illegalities on the part of Dr Mizzi, but politicians need to be seen to be working in a politically correct way, Dr Muscat said.

Asked by this newspaper whether Konrad Mizzi will still be responsible for energy projects, Dr Muscat confirmed but insisted that it is he himself who will be responsible for the Ministry. 

 

 

Opposition Leader, Simon Busuttil reacted on Twitter as soon as the Prime Minister finished announcing the reshuffle. The Leader of the Opposition said that "is an utter farce".

Former Chairperson of AD Michael Briguglio said that civil society will not be fooled by what he also described as a farce.

Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola said that the Prime Minister can repair the Panamagate scandal is by getting Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri "as far away as possible."

 

Independent MP Marlene Farrugia also turned to the social media to express her disbelief at the news that Konrad Mizzi will still be held as Minister. She said that this move is "too little too late" and that the "damage to our country will be perpetuated".

 

Alternattiva Demokratika also ridiculed the reshuffle and said that Konrad Mizzi and Manwel Mallia are being "recycled".

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat does not shy away from taking decisions.

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