The Malta Independent 29 February 2020, Saturday

Robert Abela’s Cabinet sworn in; ministers speak of new challenges

Wednesday, 15 January 2020, 15:08 Last update: about 2 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela's new Cabinet is being sworn in this afternoon.

With 26 members (including the Prime Minister), this is the biggest ever Cabinet in Malta's political history. It consists of the PM, 17 Ministers and 8 Parliamentary Secretaries.

The swearing in ceremony is being held at the Palace in Valletta.  

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said he would continue working on what he has done over the past 7 years. Fearne was asked whether he was happy with the PM’s decision, and whether his decision to remain in the post was long term or just a measure to show ‘unity’ within the party. The Deputy PM did not reply.

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Evarist Bartolo, who lost the Education portfolio and will now be Foreign Affairs Minister, said he will miss the sector he has worked in for the last 45 years. “Of course I am disappointed – it’s like I am losing a part of me. But I also look forward to working in this new portfolio and working to improve Malta’s reputation abroad.”

Owen Bonnici, who lost the Justice portfolio and will replace Bartolo as Education and Employment Minister, said he will be working with “great energy” for our future generations. 

Justyne Caruana, who will stay on as Gozo Minister, said rumours that the portfolio was going to be given to Clint Camilleri were just “speculation.” Caruana reportedly refused to let go of the Gozo Ministry, forcing PM Abela to change his mind. 

Former environment minister Jose Herrera, who will be Miniter for Culture, the arts and Local Government spoke about the importance of our culture within a tourism context. He also said he wants to strive so that Local Councils truly become local governments. Herrera noted that he had already been entrusted with this portfolio in the past.

Byron Camilleri, formerly Government Whip and now Home Affairs Minister, said he will not shy away from changes. Asked by this newsroom whether he would be removing the Police Commissioner, Camilleri said this is not a decision he can take before he has even been sworn in.

Ian Borg, who retained his portfolio as Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects ministry, said that he will continue to work with the same dedication to carry out the mandate that the government was given. He said that he will see that the rent reform that was initiated early this year will be implemented to the full.

Silvio Schembri, who will be responsible for the economy, trade and Air Malta, said the national airline is a challenge but is ready to work with its staff to bring about positive results.

Michael Farrugia, who lost the Home Affairs portfolio and will be made Energy Minister, said he will first take stock of the current situation and draft a strategy on the way forward to ensure the continuation of the energy service and prepare for the changes needed especially on renewable energy. We have to ensure that there is an uninterrupted and adequate service. Asked why he had lost the home affairs portfolio, he said this is the PM’s prerogative and every ministry has its challenges.

Rosianne Cutajar, appointed to PS for equality and reforms, said that she will not only work on equality but also on the needed reforms for the country, mentioning good governance among others. She said that “a subject close to my heart is the question of legalisation of prostitution. A discussion is ongoing and I know it is controversial.” She said that there is also the gender pay gap, among other issues.

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