Labour consolidates hold on public service through permanent secretaries

Another three Party loyalists appointed


Barely four weeks after the general elections, the newly-returned Labour administration has already appointed three party loyalists as permanent secretaries within government ministries – giving them key positions that signal the PL’s intent to tighten its grip on the public service.

Several others, including those at the tourism and home affairs ministries, have been transferred sideways, but kept in influential positions.

Through the direct intervention of Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar – Labour’s key orchestrator in the civil service – three new civil servants have been named permanent secretaries. The role, the equivalent of that of a CEO within government ministries, obliges the incumbent to act as protector of the public purse, independent of political considerations. 

Joseph Chetcuti, a senior customs official and erstwhile Labour Party candidate, has been appointed permanent secretary at the health ministry. 

The customs department has made significant improvements in recent years, particularly through the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment financed by the US in its global fight against contraband and smuggling.

However, on Chetcuti’s watch, the customs department was involved in an international scandal when thousands of tons of oil products were smuggled from war-torn Libya and passed through Malta to be traded illegally by international companies. The oil products were somehow certified by the customs department despite their clearly dubious origins.

Through this new appointment, Chetcuti has been moved out of the customs department – where he has always worked – into the health sector, despite having no experience in the field.

Mario Cutajar, 64 and on the brink of retirement, also chose to promote his right-hand man in his office, Carlos Tabone, to the post of permanent secretary at the ministry for public works and planning.

As well, a former civil protection official has been made permanent secretary at the home affairs ministry replacing Kevin Mahoney. The latter was moved sideways to the OPM even though he had approved, on his watch, blatant discrimination in appointments made in the police force – abuses that were confirmed by the Ombudsman.

Ronald Mizzi, who was made permanent secretary in 2014 and assisted disgraced former Minister Konrad Mizzi in all the tainted deals he cooked up, including the ‘corrupt’ multi-billion privatisation contract of three state hospitals and the sale of the ITS site following a vitiated multi-million euro tender, has now been moved away from the tourism ministry.

However, Mizzi has retained his permanent secretary role and transferred to the economy ministry headed by Silvio Schembri. The Luqa-politician has already had his fair share of scandals, the latest being the 31 million lease of an office block in Zejtun for the Malta Business Registry. The NAO described the deal as “prohibitive” while Schembri continues to refuse to publish the contract.

Through these latest appointments, all current permanent secretaries have been appointed since Labour came to power in 2013, bar Alfred Camilleri at the finance ministry and Paul Zahra at the economy ministry. However, the latter two have also faithfully followed all the political directions given to them during the past years without asking any questions.

Meanwhile, Mario Cutajar has also been given an additional honour: in an unprecedented move, and on top of his dual role as the cabinet secretary, Mario Cutajar has also been appointed as an executive director of Heritage Malta, getting some 20,000 extra from government coffers over and above his remuneration as principal permanent secretary. While Cutajar’s arrangement was put in place under the premiership of disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, current Prime Minister Robert Abela has made no move to change it..

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22 days ago

Mafia gang co

22 days ago

Consolidating their grip. Shame on this corrupt muvument.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
22 days ago

The people are now addicted to corruption and like drug addiction it wont go away just like that.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
21 days ago


joseph camilleri
joseph camilleri
21 days ago

The Permanent Secretary at the Education Ministry is none else than MATTHEW VELLA who before that was CEO of the Social Care Standards Authority & the person vested as the Central Authority for Malta. I reported serious wrongdoings committed when CEO with the complicity of SCSA’s chairperson, Katya MP lol….!!!! I reported that to Ministers, to the Prime Minister, to Principal PS, and others…….but NOBODY intervened to address those very serious wrongdoings I reported!!!! BASTA TKUN TALQALBA.

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