The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Konrad Mizzi refuses to say sorry on Panama Papers; says he is not a minister without portfolio

Kevin Schembri Orland Friday, 29 April 2016, 17:14 Last update: about 4 years ago

Minister Konrad Mizzi this afternoon refused to say he was sorry for the whole Panama Papers ordeal, instead choosing to end the question and answer session there and then when confronted with the issue.  

The Minister was also quite adamant about him not being called a minister without a portfolio, saying instead that he is a minister in the Prime Minister’s office.

This is in contrast to what Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said yesterday when announcing his decisions. Dr Muscat had then said that the energy and health portfolios will be taken away from under Dr Mizzi's responsibility and, instead, he would be a minister witout portfolio but with responsibility for special projects to be assigned by the PM.

Asked whether he genuinely believes the recent removal of his portfolio and the request for his resignation as PL Deputy Leader would result in regaining the trust of the populace, Minister Mizzi said: “Look, all I can say is what happened in the past and what I will do in the future. In the past I worked for the country, believed in Prime Minister Muscat’s vision and entered into a 10-year project. We reduced energy tariffs, closed down the Marsa power station, went to China and brought €320 million, have PPPs across the health sector and reduced out of stock medicines. The Prime Minister offered me the ability to keep serving him as a minister in his office. I am honoured to work with Dr Muscat every day. I will give my utmost to change this country for the better and that’s what I’ll keep doing. I’ll keep working and continue delivering project by project for the benefit of the country”.

Asked if he feels wrong about having opened a company in Panama while being a minister, Dr Mizzi said: “I’ve already made my comments on this front. I look forward to making a different in people’s lives”.

The minister was also asked whether he will continue to deal with Azerbaijan. “First of all, the country never bought oil or gas from Azerbaijan.  They are a strategic partner of the EU and are also our partner. Socar are shareholders in one of the largest energy projects in Malta”. He was asked the question three times before finally saying: “I am minister in the office of the prime minister. This means I will work with Dr Muscat and identify priorities. Yes regarding the energy portfolio, Dr Muscat asked me to run with it and deliver the key projects. Yes I will continue working on diverse PPPs including in the health sector, yes I will work on the Marsaxlokk regenerations and will continue making a difference in everyday life”.

Asked what has changed in his workload since having his portfolio removed, given that he is still handling the power station as well as the aforementioned projects, he said “the portfolios have changed”. He also mentioned that he decided to leave the deputy leadership of the party. "I gave my heart to the labour delegates and I will remain close to them, and will help them in their quest to keep the party relevant”.

As for OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, he described him as an asset for the country. “I feel privileged to work with him daily on various initiatives. Now in the Prime Minister’s office more than before. I am happy that the Prime Minister decided to keep Keith Schembri as his Chief of Staff. Mr Schembri was instrumental for Malta’s economic growth”.

Asked whether, given that he offered his resignation from the PL, but kept on as minister, it meant he was not good enough to help run the party but was good enough to help run the country, he said: “The fact is I offered my resignation as PL Deputy Leader. I did it out of loyalty to the party. The decision on the portfolio was the Prime Minister’s decision and I am proud to work closely with Dr Muscat and am willing to serve”.

Asked if he offered his resignation for his ministerial post, he again said that he left it up to the Prime Minister. “We held discussions with Dr Muscat on different scenarios. He weighed the different options and took the decision he believes best for the country”.

“I previously said I would have followed any decision taken by the Prime Minister”.

Video by Jonathan Borg.

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