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Scicluna, Vella in Muscat’s Cabinet

George Vella is expected to be appointed Foreign Minister and Edward Scicluna to take on the finance portfolio, as the Labour Cabinet is unveiled today.

There will be a role for everyone

Joseph Muscat’s first Cabinet is expected to field 14 ministers and eight parliamentary secretaries, The Times learnt last night.

Dr Muscat yesterday held his first parliamentary group meeting following his party’s landslide victory over the Nationalists last Saturday.

He told reporters that not every Labour MP would be pleased with his decisions but stressed there would be a role for everyone, including the Opposition.

Apart from Deputy Prime Minister, MEP Louis Grech will be EU Minister, the first time such a ministry has been created.

Two ministers will again assume responsibility for portfolios they had under the Alfred Sant administration – Evarist Bartolo will be Education Minister and Karmenu Vella will take over tourism.

Dr Vella, who had endorsed Dr Muscat’s nomination for leader in 2008, was first elected to Parliament in 1978. He went on to assume the role of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister between 1996 and 1998 when Malta froze its EU application.

Prof. Scicluna, an MEP, has long been cited as a potential finance minister given his economics background. Among other roles, he served as chairman of the Malta Council of Economic and Social Development and the Malta Financial Services Authority.

It is not yet known whether Dr Muscat has had to tweak his Cabinet plans, with veterans like Charles Mangion and Gavin Gulia failing to get elected. Sources said last night that the PN’s application for recounts on two districts could even have an impact on the formation of the Cabinet.

Over the past years, Dr Muscat has gone on record pledging a number of ministries never included before, such as a Minister for Civil Liberties and another for Irregular Immigration.

Questioned about his team during the electoral campaign, Dr Muscat had said it would cost the same as Cabinets appointed by former Nationalist Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami.

He did stress that his ministers or parliamentary secretaries would not receive any increase in their salaries during the next legislature.

Parliamentary assistants were introduced in 2010 to quell backbench unrest and make the Government more effective since it had the smallest Cabinet in recent history.

At present, it is estimated that every ministry costs taxpayers more than €800,000 annually in salaries alone, or €4 million per legislature.

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