Malta has a new Prime Minister and this means we could soon have a new Cabinet of Ministers too. Robert Abela has some crucial decisions to make in this regard and will have to determine which MPs should occupy which roles to lead the country forward.
With that in mind, we’ve come up what we think will be an ideal Cabinet under the current circumstances:
Prime Minister: Robert Abela
Parliamentary Secretary for Good Governance and Strengthening Institutions: Byron Camilleri
One of Abela’s biggest challenges will be to ensure good governance and to strengthen Malta’s institutions, and appointing a parliamentary secretary specifically focused on this issue and directly under the Prime Minister’s watch will be a clear sign that he is taking it seriously. Byron Camilleri is young and untainted and is an ideal candidate for this role.
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister: Chris Fearne
What better way to show there is no bad blood between himself and Chris Fearne than to encourage his former leadership rival to stay on in the role of Deputy Prime Minister? Fearne has been widely praised for his work as Health Minister but there’s still a lot of work to do, not least the long-planned development of a new mental health hospital to replace Mount Carmel.
Minister for Home Affairs and National Security: Evarist Bartolo
Longstanding Education Minister Evarist Bartolo has been one of the most critical Cabinet members in recent weeks, giving the public his two cents on the political situation with daily early-morning Facebook posts. Now approaching the end of his political career, he should be given the chance to put his words into practice and reform the police force.
Minister for the Economy, Investment, Small Businesses and Trade: Aaron Farrugia
Aaron Farrugia, an economist, recently said Malta should stop measuring its success based on GDP alone and that it should set up a gross national wellbeing index to measure issues such as good governance, justice, pro-environment practices and shaming income for vulnerable groups. This proposal was well received by leading economists and social partners and Farrugia should be given a chance to implement it.
Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Gaming, Research and Emerging Technologies: Silvio Schembri
Silvio Schembri has drafted laws and strategies for Malta to tap into emerging technologies such as blockchain and AI but this sector is still very much in its early stages and there’s no guarantee it will be successful. Schembri should remain in this role, this time under the Economy Ministry, to ensure that this is the case.
Minister for Equality, Reforms and Women’s Rights: Rosianne Cutajar
The Equality Ministry should be merged with the parliamentary secretariat for reforms, responsible for issues such as the legalisation of cannabis for personal use, prostitution and gender quotas. As an MP, Rosianne Cutajar successfully spearheaded a law which led to the legalisation of cremation and she should now be tasked with implementing other crucial reforms.
With Joseph Muscat now reportedly planning to campaign for abortion, Cutajar will also be in charge of navigating through this delicate debate.
Minister for Finance: Edward Scicluna
Edward Scicluna is now in the twilight of his political career but he remains the most experienced MP by far to lead this crucial ministry.
Minister for the Environment and Climate Change: Owen Bonnici
The environment needs a minister with the legal and political know-how to ensure its protection is enshrined in law. After several years as Minister for Justice and Culture, Owen Bonnici needs a new challenge and this could be it.
Sustainable development should be removed from this portfolio to allow the minister to fully focus on the environment.
Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights: Clayton Bartolo
Farmers, fishermen, hunters and animals alike require a politician passionate enough to fight for their rights. This would be Clayton Bartolo’s first experience in Cabinet and he’d want to hit the ground running.
Minister for Justice: José Herrera
In light of the current situation, the Justice Minister should focus all his attentions on improving the justice system and not also occupy himself with another portfolio like culture. Jose Herrera is an experienced lawyer and would be an ideal choice.
Minister for European and Foreign Affairs: Manuel Mallia
The European and Foreign Affairs ministries should be merged for the sake of better coordination when promoting Malta’s interests overseas. It’s a tough role and should be occupied by an experienced head like Manuel Mallia.
Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds: Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi
This role, which involves the acquisition of EU funds, should be given to someone with a fair deal of political experience who is determined to show what they’re worth, which is why we’ve opted for Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.
Minister for Tourism: Chris Cardona
The role of Tourism Minister has been vacant for several weeks now and the person eventually chosen will need to guarantee Air Malta long-term success. Chris Cardona has spent seven years in charge of the Economy Ministry and should have garnered enough economic know-how to be trusted with the national airline.
Minister for Education and Employment: Justyne Caruana
Education is constantly evolving and, after seven years with Evarist Bartolo in charge, it’s time a new person takes over. After several years in Parliament, Justyne Caruana is well-placed to take over this ministry.
Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship Affairs, Integration and Tackling Abuse in the Labour Market: Julia Farrugia Portelli
Malta is rapidly changing and the migration of thousands of foreign workers to the island has led to rising issues in terms of integration, the use of foreign workers as cheap labour and their subsequent abuse. This topic deserves an entire portfolio and Julia Farrugia Portelli is well-placed for the role, having already been entrusted with Identity Malta.
This new portfolio will make her responsible for monitoring the abuse of foreign workers (something which she already touched upon in her campaign against human trafficking), solving administrative headaches at Identity Malta and implementing a widespread integration strategy.
Minister for Culture and Sport: Clifton Grima
Sports should be elevated to ministry level, with Clifton Grima (currently parliamentary secretary for sports) remaining in charge of the sector and given the additional responsibility of culture.
Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Local Government and Consumer Affairs: Deo Debattista
Deo Debattista has been parliamentary secretary for consumer rights, public cleansing and support for Valletta for a while now and his portfolio deserves an expansion. Responsibility for local councils and youth affairs could prove to be an interesting challenge.
Minister for Gozo: Clint Camilleri
One of the youngest members of Cabinet, Gozitan MP Clint Camilleri should get a chance to show his worth and be placed in charge of the ministry governing his home island.
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy: Ian Borg
Ian Borg is undoubtedly one of the most controversial ministers in the current Cabinet but he has also cemented his reputation as a doer, an important quality for a minister entrusted with kickstarting the introduction of a mass transport system. However, planning should be removed from his portfolio and replaced by energy as a sign of the government’s intent to promote low-emission vehicles.
Minister for Planning, Housing and Capital Projects: Roderick Galdes
This will be one of the toughest portfolios but Roderick Galdes already has some experience in the sector after spearheading the recent rent reform law as a parliamentary sector. Planning and capital projects should be merged with housing to ensure that the person in charge of the construction sector always has an eye on the industry’s impact on people.
Parliamentary Secretary for Social Accommodation and Affordable Housing: Alex Muscat
The provision of social accommodation and affordable housing is so crucial that it deserves a person completely dedicated to it. Alex Muscat, a young economist, is well-placed to take this challenge on.
Minister for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity: Carmelo Abela
Carmelo Abela hasn’t publicly put a foot wrong in his two-year tenure as Foreign Affairs Minister and he could prove to be an able choice for the role of Family Minister, where he would be in charge of social benefits.
Parliamentary Secretary for People with Disabilities and Active Ageing: Anthony Agius Decelis
Anthony Agius Decelis has done a pretty good job in this sector so far and he should continue in this role. Besides, he recently became a grandfather himself, which could help him sympathise with the people he’s supposed to be helping.
Government whip: Edward Zammit Lewis
Edward Zammit Lewis has a lot of parliamentary experience and is well-suited to coordinate the government’s work in the House.