ministry finance

The permanent secretary within the Ministry for Finance and Employment, Alfred Camilleri, has retired, bringing to a close his distinguished service as one of Malta’s longest-serving top civil servants.

He is being replaced by Paul Zahra, who brings with him formidable experience, having served as permanent secretary within various Government departments since 2001.

Paul Zahra

Just a few months ago, in April, Mr Zahra was appointed permanent secretary responsible for EU funds within the Ministry for Economy, European Funds and Lands, having previously held a similar role at the Office of the Prime Minister since 2020.

He had been appointed to the Ministry for European Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto in 2013.

Prior to the change in Government, Mr Zahra had served as permanent secretary in several departments including the Ministry for Economic Services, Ministry of Finance, Ministry for Fair Competition, Small Business and Consumers and the Office of the Prime Minister.

Ronald Mizzi, permanent secretary within the Ministry for Economy, will now also be responsible for EU funds.

Tony Sultana, the principal permanent secretary, thanked Mr Camilleri for his service. Mr Sultana is himself a recent appointee, after Mario Cutajar, who had been in the role since the Labour Party swept to power in 2013, retired in May.

Mr Camilleri was one of the few permanent secretaries to retain his position during that transition.

Prior to taking up the role of permanent secretary within the Finance Ministry, Mr Camilleri headed the National Statistics Office for 10 years.

alfred camilleri
Alfred Camilleri

Testifying before the public inquiry to determine the role of the state in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Mr Camilleri said he had expressed misgivings about the Government guarantee extended to Electrogas, which ballooned from €110 million in 2014 to €450 million by the following year.

He told the inquiry that the guarantee posed a risk to the country’s stability, as Electrogas came close to default.

Upon learning of the power station operator’s difficulties, Mr Camilleri called a meeting for “first thing in the morning”, summoning former Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi to the table. Mr K. Mizzi was Tourism Minister at the time, with Mr R. Mizzi serving as his permanent secretary.

Ms Caruana Galizia’s son has hinted that she was murdered to prevent news of this potential default from coming out. A huge cache of Electrogas documents had been leaked to her a few months before hired killers set off the car bomb that killed her on 16th October 2017.

Former chairman of the National Book Council Mark Camilleri has repeatedly expressed his admiration for Mr Camilleri’s dispensation of his duties as a “stern and dutiful technocrat”, although Government critic Manuel Delia has spoken of him less positively.

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