Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri has openly snubbed his cabinet colleague, fellow Gozitan and new Minister for Active Ageing Jo Etienne Abela, in the latest episode of a growing ‘turf war’ between the government’s Gozitan ministers.
Following in the footsteps of his two fellow Gozitan cabinet members – Ministers Clint Camilleri and Anton Refalo – Gozo’s latest new Labour MP last Friday inaugurated a ‘mini-ministry’ in Gozo, which is officially aimed at offering “exclusive services” for the elderly in Gozo.
But even though his name was inscribed on the commemorative plaque marking the occasion, in what is being interpreted as a signal that the move was unwelcome, Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri did not attend the ceremony.
It is understood that Minister Abela’s new Gozo office is being seen by Ministers Camilleri and Refalo as an attempt by the newcomer to gain ground in their electoral district at their expense.
While Camilleri uses his own ministry in St Francis Square in Victoria to meet his constituents, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Anton Refalo also opened his own ‘mini ministry’ at The Duke shopping complex in Victoria, where he is regularly seen meeting people requiring the ministry’s services.
Taxpayers funding ministerial turf war
The continued bickering between Labour ministers who contest the Gozo district comes at a hefty price for taxpayers funding the offices, which ministers are also using to curry as much favour as possible with their electors.
Abela’s own ‘mini-ministry’ was inaugurated last Friday. It is located on Victoria’s Republic Street in an imposing building that, until a few weeks ago, was telecommunications company GO’s Gozo headquarters.
The Shift is informed that Abela negotiated the lease of the whole building for use as a Centre for Active Ageing, essentially a Gozitan branch of his ministry, without any tenders being issued.
The office, which is funded by taxpayers for an undisclosed sum, has already been transformed into a customer service centre and several Gozitans have been recruited to staff it.
Most of the government’s services for Gozo’s elderly, however, are run by the Gozo Ministry. These include day-care centres and residential services, which were recently highlighted for their waste of public funds and resources in a damming NAO report.
While Malta Properties, the company that acquired all of GO’s most profitable buildings in Gozo is turning a healthy profit from the Active Ageing Ministry’s new lease, another Gozitan Labour insider, Gozo Channel Chairman Joe Cordina, is also making the most of the opportunity.
To make way for Minister Abela’s new Gozo office, GO has leased part of a building owned privately by Cordina on the same street, where it has transferred its operations and employees.
It is not known how much Cordina, an accountant by profession, is making from the deal.
This is the first time that Gozitan ministers are opening up mini-ministries in their constituency. Under normal circumstances, ministerial activities are carried out from a central building in Malta, with the obvious exception of the Gozo Ministry.
The Prime Minister is now, however, allowing Gozitan ministers to use taxpayer funds to open up what are effectively constituency offices disguised as Gozitan extensions of their ministries.
“The Prime Minister, however, is now allowing Gozitan ministers to use taxpayers’ funds to open….,,,,,constituency offices”.
Are we sure that ‘allowing’ is the correct word – or….:?
The most important project that Gozo desperately needs is a new Court House with required trained staff to assist the Magistrates.
This was promised by the PL, just as much the new state of the art General Hospital that Vitals/Steward were meant to build.
Now that is a dream, as there are no funds for nurses.
Il-gvern laburista qed kulma jmur isir gvern mifrud u l-ministri qed isiru aktar individwalisti.