Edward Scicluna says he is leaving the finance ministry satisfied that he has achieved economic well-being through economic growth, a reduction in poverty and the maintenance of stable finances.

The government on Thursday announced he was stepping down and would be appointed governor of the Central Bank of Mata instead. His appointment was  cleared by the European Central Bank (ECB) since his new position gives him a seat on the ECB’s decision-making body, known as the general council.

Replying to questions by Times of Malta via e-mail, Scicluna said he looked  forward to joining the ECB’s governing council where he has a number of friends with whom had worked closely in the past including both the ECB president Christine Lagarde and ECB vice president Luis de Guindos.

Scicluna said he will be resigning as finance minister on the same day his successor, Clyde Caruana, is sworn in.

Looking back on his time in the political arena, Scicluna said the purpose of spending his retirement years in politics was primarily to help the then Labour opposition build a credible, electable party.

Scicluna said the second objective was to successfully deliver, once elected, what the people desire most, namely economic well-being through economic growth, a reduction in poverty and the maintenance of stable finances. “I think I can confidently say this has been achieved. The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore the preparedness of the economy to meet the crises with enough reserves to face such uncertainty, and loss of revenues for all.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore the preparedness of the economy to meet the crises

“Each successive budget, nine of them, brought their own highs since they continued to build one block after another the economic structure we have today.”

Asked about the lows of his time as finance minister, Scicluna highlighted political divisiveness, hatred and hard words which developed over “the last couple of years”.

“There are many factors to which both sides of the political divide contributed to get to this state of affairs.

“I think level-headed people in leading organisations should help narrow this chasm rather than take sides.

“We need to feel as one country. We need to agree on certain things. But we have to say it aloud,” Scicluna said.

Scicluna said he would do his part in his new job too.

“When I was chairman of the MFSA under both administrations, I always kept an open channel with both the finance minister and shadow finance minister in the area of financial services. Many financial service providers remember this and I am sure they yearn for this state of affairs to return,” Scicluna said.

Scicluna has long received flak for remaining silent in public in the face of multiple high-level corruption scandals under former prime minister Joseph Muscat.

The outgoing minister is in the crosshairs of a magisterial inquiry requested by rule of law NGO Repubblika into the Vitals Global Healthcare scandal, which saw the operation of three public hospitals being handed to unknown operators who have since cut their losses and left the country.

Scicluna admitted to the existence of a “kitchen cabinet” that ran the Muscat government when testifying before the public inquiry into journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination last August.

He said he was not part of this “inner core”, which included Muscat’s right-hand man Keith Schembri, along with former minister Konrad Mizzi.

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