Labour’s second-term Cabinet, which Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will convene for the first time this morning, is the largest since Independence.

Compared to Dr Muscat’s first Cabinet in March 2013, the second-term executive has the same number of ministers, 15, including the Prime Minister, but two more parliamentary secretaries than in 2013, reaching a total of ten.

Unlike his predecessor, Lawrence Gonzi, who opted for a much smaller Cabinet, Dr Muscat has selected an even larger one than in 2013, which was already the largest in history.

Dr Muscat has frequently argued he is results driven, and that it is not a case of his Cabinets being too large, but Dr Gonzi's Cabinet having been too small.

Dr Muscat's first Cabinet set taxpayers back some €9.6 million a year compared to the €5.6 million spent during the Gonzi administration.

This time round, the executive will cost some €500,000 more a year, when just salaries and personal emoluments are taken into consideration.

Almost all MPs who made it on their own steam in the election were appointed

In real terms, costs will be much higher, as office and rental costs, staff costs, transport, allowances, overseas travel, overtime and other operational costs must be factored in.

According to the Cabinet rules introduced by previous Nationalist administrations and adopted by Dr Muscat’s government, while the Prime Minister’s secretariat can include up to 37 members of staff, ministers are entitled to engage 19 members in their private secretariats and parliamentary secretaries can employ 11.

Cabinet composition usually changes over the duration of a legislature.

Dr Muscat made several changes to his first Cabinet between 2013 and 2017, with ministers leaving their posts either through resignation (Godfrey Farrugia and Franco Mercieca) or sacking (Manuel Mallia and Michael Falzon), while backbenchers were called to join.

In choosing his second Cabinet, Dr Muscat did not take any radical political decisions apart from replacing the former minister for Gozo, Anton Refalo, with Justyne Caruana.

Dr Muscat has effectively given an appointment to almost all the MPs who made it on their own steam in the last elections. Only newcomers Silvio Grixti, Byron Camilleri and Alex Muscat were left out of the executive. (Byron Camilleri was made whip.)

New MP Robert Abela was made legal consultant to the Prime Minister, with the right to attend cabinet meetings.

So far, Dr Muscat has not appointed a deputy prime minister, as he will first await the result of a Labour Party election for the post of deputy leader for parliamentary affairs. 

Mr Grech has been made consultant to the Cabinet.

Cabinet costs (salaries)

Legislature PM/Ministers/P. Secretaries Total members Annual cost 5-year cost 
2003 1+13+5 19 €8.2m €41m
2008 1+8+4 13 €5.6m €28m
2013 1+14+8 23 €9.6m €48m
2017 1+14+10 25 €10.1m €50.5m

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com

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