OPM staffer Aaron Zahra has been earmarked to run the country’s national festivals agency. 

Zahra will be replacing Norman Hamilton at the helm of Festivals Malta. At the OPM, he was a close aide to Abela, organising and managing logistics for most of his events and appearances. 

He also chaired the committee tasked with overseeing the papal visit in April. 

The festivals agency was set up by the government in 2017 to oversee a portfolio of national and international cultural and artistic events, festivals and cultural infrastructural projects.

Zahra’s appointment is the latest in a string of people from Prime Minister Robert Abela’s team to get a government job. 

Last week, Times of Malta reported that another staffer in his office, Ryan Spagnol, 32, would be appointed Cabinet secretary. It will be the first time in several legislatures that this position is not held by the head of the civil service.

ONE reporters given major appointments

The secretary is tasked with running cabinet meetings and overseeing inter-ministerial projects. The office also heads the government’s internal audit and investigations unit. 

Times of Malta also reported last month that another OPM staffer and former ONE reporter Melissa Vella Buhagiar is expected to be put in charge of the Department of Information.

The department plays a pivotal role in organising logistics and media for major national events such as state visits or elections.

It manages content on the Malta government website (www.gov.mt), the public service intranet and all official departmental Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.  

Buhagiar had previously been a manager at the DOI. 

Yet another ONE reporter, Trischia Falzon, 26, was nominated by the OPM to be a director on a public sector entity tasked with overseeing tens of millions of euros in Malta-Libya investments. 

Remuneration for the post is understood to be around €20,000 annually.

The Libyan Arab Maltese Holdings Company Limited was set up in 1975 with equal shares between the Maltese and Libyan governments. It is understood that the nomination was called back after questions were sent about the appointment. Falzon is the partner of Ronald Vassallo, who was installed as the head of the Labour Party’s communications by Abela in 2019.   

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