Prime Minister Robert Abela announced a cabinet reshuffle on Saturday evening that saw his former chief of staff Clyde Caruana take over the Finance Ministry and former MEP Miriam Dalli handed the Energy and Enterprise portfolio.
The two, who were sworn into parliament just last month, were widely expected to take on posts as Abela reorganised his team of ministers. Caruana replaces the long-serving Edward Scicluna, who will take up the governorship of the Central Bank of Malta.
Meanwhile, Silvio Parnis lost his parliamentary secretariat for active ageing and the elderly, which was transferred to Michael Farrugia as a new ministry.
Parnis had been facing pressure over the rapid spread of coronavirus through homes for the elderly. An investigation is underway into an outbreak in two homes that led to the deaths of 13 residents.
Two other ministers saw sideways moves into newly-created portfolios after questions on their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Julia Farrugia Portelli, formerly tourism minister, has been handed a portfolio of Inclusion and Quality of Life, after a rapid summer reopening of the tourism industry that many have linked to a resurgence of the virus in Malta.
And former education minister Owen Bonnici, spearheading a bumpy reopening of schools, has been moved to Research and Innovation, as well as taking on responsibility for the coordination of a post-COVID-19 strategy.
At their expense, the other big winners on the night were Justyne Caruana and Clayton Bartolo.
Caruana, who resigned as Gozo minister in January 2020 over her husband's links to Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, was returned to Cabinet, taking on Bonnici's education portfolio.
Bartolo was promoted from parliamentary secretary for financial services to tourism and consumer protection minister, replacing Farrugia Portelli.
The reshuffle also handed a blow to Silvio Schembri. The economy and industry minister retained his portfolio but saw both Malta Enterprise and Air Malta hived off from his remit to form part of Miriam Dalli's and Clyde Caruana's new portfolios respectively.
Dalli, who was sworn in to parliament last month, also took on responsibility for sustainable development, previously under Carmelo Abela's remit.
A subtle but significant policy shift was Chris Agius' change of boss. The parliamentary secretary for construction previously answered to infrastructure minister Ian Borg but now falls under Aaron Farrugia's environment ministry, reuniting the planning portfolio fully under one portfolio.
Farrugia was thus the only minister to see an increase in responsibilities.
Ministers Chris Fearne, Evarist Bartolo, Jose Herrera, Carmelo Abela, Edward Zammit Lewis, Anton Refalo, Roderick Galdes, Clint Camilleri and Byron Camilleri all see no changes to the portfolios.
Parliamentary secretary Clifton Grima will now answer to Julia Farrugia Portelli and her ministry for Inclusion and Quality of Life. His colleagues Rosianne Cutajar, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Alex Muscat and Deo Debattista see no change to their roles.
Robert Abela's new cabinet
Deputy Prime Minister & Health
European and Foreign Affairs
Michael Farrugia (formerly Energy and Water Management)
Elderly and Active Ageing
Owen Bonnici (formerly Education)
Research, Innovation and Coordination of the Post-COVID-19 Strategy
National Heritage, Arts and Local Government
Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister
Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects
Family, Children's Rights and Social Solidarity
Edward Zammit Lewis
Justice, Equality and Governance
Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights
Economy and Industry
Julia Farrugia Portelli (formerly Tourism)
Inclusion and quality of life
Environment, Climate Change and Planning
Home Affairs, Law Enforcement and National Security
Clayton Bartolo (formerly Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy)
Tourism and Consumer Protection
Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development
Finance and Employment
Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi
Equality and Reform
Sports, Youth and Volunteering
Citizenship and Community
Consumer Rights and Public Cleansing