Same ministry for home affairs and justice shows Labour's change of direction - de Marco
Nationalist MP Mario de Marco has described the prime minister's decision to place home affairs and justice within the same ministry as a shocking change of direction by Labour in view of its declarations a few months ago.
"To everyone’s surprise, if not outright shock, Joseph Muscat has appointed a minister responsible for Home Affairs, with a subservient Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Justice," the former tourism minister noted on his facebook page.
"This jars with what happened just a few months ago, when Labour pressed hard in parliament to have Home Affairs and Justice placed under separate ministries. It is now amply clear that their position then was motivated solely by political opportunism, and nothing else.
"Is this what was meant by a change in direction, one might ask? This sudden left about turn could also be indicative of a sprouting arrogance, so early in the day for Labour's much vaunted new way of government."
He also described Mario Cutajar's appointment as designate head of the Civil Service as 'a means to politicise the public service'.
"With the campaign glitter hardly off his image, on his first day in office as Prime Minister, Dr Muscat appointed, as Head of the Civil Service, a hard core Party man who promptly lived up to expectations and, against all standard procedures and ignoring Constitutional provisions, asked all Permanent Secretaries to offer their resignation.
"The appointment of Mr Mario Cutajar can only be interpreted as a means to politicise the public service, a throwback to an undesirable past. It took years of objective and reasoned management to cleanse the service of political control and influence, primarily by attracting, motivating and retaining young and professional persons to make a career as public servants. Structures were established intended to separate the regulator from the operator, and to create a buffer between the political and the administrative. In one fell swoop, the 'new' Labour government has demolished all that, by playing the opening gambit in a stratagem aimed solely at creating a public service to serve his party's interests."
This, Dr de Marco said, was an irregular move that left many baffled.
"The appointment and removal of permanent secretaries is defined in the Constitution of Malta which states that Permanent Secretaries are appointed and removed by the President, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, after consulting with the Public Service Commission.
"This safeguard was placed in the Constitution for a purpose. It gives Permanent Secretaries a level of protection as they carry out their role to keep in check the Minister they serve. Permanent Secretaries manage the ministries’ human resources and budgets. The Permanent Secretary has to advise the Minister regarding what is doable and feasible, and what is not. By pressuring Permanent Secretaries to resign, the 'new' Labour Administration is showing from day one, that it will only work with those who toe the line without question. The rallying call of ‘Malta Taghna Lkoll’ is already starting to fade away, being replaced by echoes of ‘min hu maghna maghna, min mhux maghna kontra taghna’ . This is a truly worrying development. It seems that civil servants employees will now be forced to work under the guidance of politically appointed Permanent Secretaries and politically appointed private secretariats. No checks or balances!"