Long-term serving Finance Minister Edward Scicluna turned 74 last Monday, while this coming Monday he will be announcing the Budget 2021 – arguably the most challenging task he has had to face to date.
Clyde Caruana, Prime Minister Robert Abela's Head of Secretariat
And, with the news that economist Clyde Caruana - the Prime Minister’s right hand man - is expected to be co-opted to Parliament over the coming days, speculation is rife that a major Cabinet reshuffle could be taking place over the next couple of weeks.
Mr Caruana headed JobsPlus during Joseph Muscat’s administration, and previously held the position of Labour Party Mayor of Zabbar. He is known for having masterminded the youth guarantee drawn up by the UHM before the 2013 election which was taken up by the incoming Labour Government, and was also the architect of the free childcare system introduced by Government in 2014.
If the co-option materialises, Mr Caruana could potentially be taking the Finance portfolio whilst Miriam Dalli, who is also being co-opted to Parliament, is expected to be given a major portfolio, possibly Education or Justice.
Mr Caruana’s co-option to Parliament and immediate promotion to Cabinet is an interesting development that could open the doors for more unelected, talented technocrats taking up key ministerial positions.
Clearly, the current Cabinet might have been a strategic stopgap to ‘maintain continuity’ by Prime Minister Robert Abela upon his election during highly sensitive times for the country.
Now, he will be free to make his own choices, against the backdrop of COVID-19 and the ‘clearing-up’ of the mess left by his predecessor.
If such a reshuffle were to materialise it could potentially have a significant impact on the election date.
Although many political observers are convinced that the election is earmarked towards spring 2021, it is possible that the Prime Minister might decide to allow his new cabinet more time to sort out the political and institutional crisis left by his predecessor as well as ensuring that by election date COVID-19 and its major financial and economic repercussions would have been dealt with and settled.