Mario Cutajar, the principal permanent secretary, has announced that he will be stepping down from his role in the public service

Mr Cutajar made the announcement at an event during Public Service Week 2022, prompting a standing ovation from those present.

He said that he had spoken to Prime Minister Robert Abela late last year, noting that he was approaching pensionable age and was thinking of retiring. He said the Prime Minister had asked him to stay on until after the election to ensure a smooth transition.

Visibly emotional, Mr Cutajar recounted the various reforms enacted under his watch, which he said revolutionised the public service.

Saying he had never harboured ambitions for such a role, he said he will be leaving with the privilege of being part of the efforts undertaken in the last years.

“I’m confident that we are leaving a better public service for the benefit of all,” he said.

“Remember that the public service used to be a political issue prior to every election. Remember that people used to run from department to department to obtain a single service.”

Mr Cutajar said these efforts at reform brought 1,500 public services under a single roof. “1,500 services accessible from mobile, from wherever you are, at whatever time,” he said.

He pointed to a higher-than-average public satisfaction with the service offered by Government, according to the Eurobarometer survey, and insisted that more needs to be done to improve it even more.

He said the last years of reforms, which brought a level of organisation, measurability, and assessment, are the foundations for the next set of reforms that will take the public service into the future.

Mr Cutajar, a former Labour Party and General Workers Union official appointed to the role days after Labour swept to victory in March 2013, has led the public service ever since. His first act was to ask all other permanent secretaries to resign, drawing calls of a “takeover” by party loyalists in the first public controversy of the newly elected Government. 

Prime Minister Robert Abela praised his work, describing him as a frank talker with vision, whose efforts saw the country take big steps forward for the good of its people.

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Robert Fenech

Robert is curious about the connections that make the world work, and takes a particular interest in the confluence of economy, environment and justice. He can also be found moonlighting as a butler for his big black cat.