In Pictures – New Cabinet Sworn In / Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 30 March 2022

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1745- Latest News update

Times of Malta says one of the Nationalist Party’s newest MPs has dismissed a rumour that he will contest the party leadership, after blogger Simon Mercieca claimed that he is eyeing the role.

MaltaToday says ADPD has filed a constitutional case in order to be granted a seat in parliament, saying that the party’s first count votes are being ignored.

Newsbook says the former Director General of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Giovanni Kessler testified in criminal proceedings against disgraced former EU Commissioner John Dalli on Wednesday morning via Teams.

TVM says A man was condemned to eight years of imprisonment after being found guilty of having raped his own daughter, when he lost the final plea he presented in Court.

Updated 1511: Official Cabinet list announced

Robert Abela -Prime Minister

Chris Fearne -Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health

Owen Bonnici -Minister for National Heritage, Arts and Local Government

Ian Borg -Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade

Michael Falzon – Minister for Social Policy and Children’s Rights

Anton Refalo – Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights

Roderick Galdes – Minister for Social and Affordable Housing

Silvio Schembri – Minister for the Economy, European Funds and Lands

Julia Farrugia Portelli – Minister for Inclusion, Volunteering and Consumer Rights

Aaron Farrugia – Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects

Clint Camilleri – Minister for Gozo

Byron Camilleri – Minister for the Interior, Security, Reform and Equality

Clayton Bartolo – Minister for Tourism

Miriam Dalli – Minister for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise

Clyde Caruana – Minister of Finance and Labor

Clifton Grima – Minister for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation

Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi – Minister for Public Works and Planning

Jonathan Attard – Minister for Justice

Jo Etienne Abela – Minister for Active Aging

Parliamentary Secretaries

Andy Ellul – Parliamentary Secretary for Social Dialogue in the Office of the Prime Minister

Alison Zerafa Civelli – Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government in the Ministry of National Heritage, Arts and Local Government

Chris Bonnett – Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds in the Ministry of Economy, European Funds and Lands

Keith Azzopardi Tanti – Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Research and Innovation in the Ministry of Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation

Former Ministers Edward Zammit Lewis and Carmelo Abela as well as Rosianne Cutajar are out of Robert Abela’s Cabinet.

Chris Fearne, Clyde Caruana have retained the key health and finance roles. A big promotion (and quite a shift) for Aaron Farrugia, moving from the environment to roads and infrastructure. Ian Borg moves to Foreign Affairs during uneasy political times in Europe.

In a statement, Government said that as promised during the election campaign, Prime Minister Robert Abela has chosen a cabinet that includes a mix of experience and new blood. The main goal of this cabinet is to carry out the electoral manifesto on which the government was elected, an electoral manifesto built on the need for a better Malta, equal opportunities for all and a better quality of life.

The Department of Information said that Prime Minister Robert Abela has given Temporary permission for a few days to Surgeon Jo Etienne Abela to be able to operate on patients who have already prepared for the operation. This is in the interest of the health of the same patients.

The Prime Minister will also consider other appointments, in view of the need to strengthen female representation in Parliament as well as in the executive.

The full list is available here.

Appointment ceremonies are expected shortly.

Updated 1230

Malta ends 2021 with 1.24bn deficit: The public purse has ended the year 2021 with a deficit of 1.24 billion euro, the NSO reported today. Compared to the same period in 2020, there was a decrease in deficit of €225.7 million. This difference mirrors an increase in total Recurrent Revenue (€1,005.2 million), partially offset by a rise in total expenditure. Changes in expenditure and revenue reflect developments related to COVID-19. At the end of 2021, Central Government debt stood at just over €8billion, a €1.33 billion rise from 2020.

Update: Times of Malta reveals expected Abela Cabinet

The Times of Malta reveals what it expects to be Robert Abela’s new cabinet. It says that Ian Borg is to be shifted to Foreign Affairs. Chris Fearne will retain the health portfolio, Clyde Caruana finance,  Clint Camilleri Gozo, Clifton Grima in education and sports and Anton Refalo agriculture. More details here.

Morning Briefing

PM to appoint Cabinet today

PM Robert Abela was reportedly in talks with newly-elected Labour MPs on Tuesday as, together with his closest advisers, he is expected to announce the Cabinet today. Abela is operating in restricted timeframes, with a public holiday tomorrow and a papal visit during the weekend.

PL co-opts portal editor as MP

Labour has announced the first co-option in Parliament, an element which was a regular feature of the past legislature. In a statement, it said that Labour was co-opting Randolph Debattista, who edits the party’s English-language website The Journal, into parliament after it ran out of candidates on the ninth district. On Tuesday evening it has also announced, following an internal secret vote, which seats will be relinquished by candidates elected on two districts.

MHRA welcomes PM’s intention to lift all restrictions

The hotel lobby has welcomed Prime Minister Robert Abela’s pledge to remove all COVID-19 restrictions. On Monday, Abela had said that said “it’s time to lift all COVID restrictions”, insisting government will leave it “up to people to choose how to safeguard their own wellbeing.” Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association President Tony Zahra said the PM’s statement echoed the sentiment of competing countries. The Malta International Airport also welcomed the PM’s statement.

Covid-19 Update

Malta reported 603 cases on Tuesday, the highest in months, taking the positivity rate to over 14%.

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