Clayton Bartolo, Malta’s current Tourism Minister, was the Cabinet member responsible for appointing a 19-year-old Labour Pary councillor to FinanceMalta’s Board of Governors.
Bartolo appointed Carlos Zarb while serving as the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and the Digital Economy within the Finance Ministry. Zarb was just 18-years-old at the time.
Responding to questions sent to the Finance Ministry and Tourism Ministry, the Head of Communications at OPM said that regulations say that one of the members should be the Youth Committee Chairman. Zarb stepped down as Youth Committee Chairman just a month after getting the role. He is paid €2000 per annum.
“This Government has shown great confidence in young people being active in public life. Every time they had been given the opportunity to hold important roles they showcased their capability to contribute to the country,” OPM said.
Zarb serves as a councillor for the St Paul’s Bay local council, which happens to fall within the district where Bartolo contests for general elections.
Well-informed sources have suggested that Zarb’s appointment could be linked to Bartolo’s attempts to shore up support in the hotly contested district.
Zarb is somewhat popular in the St Paul’s Bay area. Despite his young age, he received the second-most votes out of any Labour Party candidate in the area. He was only not appointed Deputy Mayor because of his age (he was 17 at the time). Bartolo did not reply to these claims.
Bartolo has leapt to the staunch defence of Zarb’s appointment since the revelations, first noted by MP David Thake. However, he did not mention that he was the one to appoint Zarb.
“Thake chose to besmirch a person, all because he is a Labour Party member. Thake does not know that the law which governs the entity FinanceMalta states that there has to be a youth on the said board”
“His statement confirms that the PN sees young people as a number and nothing more,” Bartolo said.
The Labour Party has also defended the appointment, insisting that the government has always shown faith in young people, adding that the PN could not comprehend the thought of a 19-year-old working in a public institution.
However, both fail to address how an individual with zero experience in the field merited the appointment to such a crucial role.
FinaceMalta is a public-private initiative geared to promote Malta as an international business and financial centre both inside and outside the country.
With Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the looming risk of greylisting by Moneyval, such bodies are crucial to help ensure that the government keeps up steady investment in the country.
According to Zarb’s biography on the FinanceMalta page, he was born on 24th November 2001. In 2018, he joined the Labour Party’s youth wing, Forum Żgħażagħ Laburisti. He remains a member of its executive till today.
In a Facebook post in 2017, Zarb admitted that he was a backer of Prime Minister Robert Abela in the 2020 leadership election.
On an educational level, Zarb is still at university currently reading for a law degree.
When contacted, Zarb asked Lovin Malta to direct questions to FinanceMalta.
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