A day before his 48th birthday tomorrow, former Nationalist finance minister Tonio Fenech – a prime figure in the Gonzi-led PN administrations – has decided to call it quits.

Speaking to the Times of Malta, Mr Fenech, an accountant by profession, said he had decided to leave politics after long reflection.

He wishes to enjoy his family much more than he has so far.

“It’s time to move on after 20 years in politics. As a minister for almost a decade, I gave my all and contributed to an overhaul of the island. I also made a lot of personal sacrifices. I didn’t see my young children grow. For me, it’s time to start a new chapter in my life and make way for others to make their contribution in a new PN government,” Mr Fenech said.

In the last election, Mr Fenech was elected in two districts, gaining almost 8,000 votes.

He said he would continue to work within the PN and urged his voters to vote for Simon Busuttil “with urgency”.

“Let me make it clear. It is urgent the PN led by Simon Busuttil is in government after the next election and before it’s too late…

“Our reputation is at stake, and as someone who works in the financial services sector, I know what I am saying. Many people in the industry will suffer if we do not urgently restore our reputation abroad.”

I have no more ambitions in politics

The former finance minister, who oversaw Malta’s entry into the eurozone, said unfortunately Malta was suffering immensely from a bad name “due to the culture instilled by Prime Minister Muscat, where anything goes”.

“What we’ve built in recent years, a sound reputation which attracted the gaming and financial services industries to the island, is on the verge of being lost due to the corruption of the last four years,” Mr Fenech insisted.

“Make no mistake. The sectors we [the PN administrations] built, the drivers of today’s flourishing economy, are being fiercely shaken; all will stop if Malta’s reputation is not immediately restored. This is a matter of urgency, and only a new PN government can remedy the situation.”

He said those who are currently doing well in the property market and renting out apartments would suffer if the island’s reputation continued to deteriorate.

A father of two, Mr Fenech entered politics when he was young and convinced by former PN leader Eddie Fenech Adami to contest the local council election in Birkirkara.

Former Nationalist finance minister Tonio Fenech. Photo: Jonathan BorgFormer Nationalist finance minister Tonio Fenech. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Eventually, he became mayor and moved on to Parliament.

Asked to explain his departure from politics at a relatively young age, Mr Fenech said it was a choice of personal lifestyle.

“I think that I’ve given enough, and I have no more ambitions in politics. For me, being a minster is not something I look forward to any longer. The stress is immense, and egoistically, I think that I’ve given enough.

“Also, the deaths of some close friends have made me think more about whether it was worth it to continue living such a hectic life and not do other things instead.

“I will not go away, but I want to spend the rest of my life doing other interesting things.”

Asked whether the infamous allegations that Labour made before the last elections about the gift of a clock had also played a part in his decision, a smiling Mr Fenech admitted this was part of his baggage.

“I can assure you that my conscience is clear, and I sleep very well at night. However, in politics, for some you are a hero, and for others you are the devil. My consolation is that it was just a clock and not a secret Panama company,” he added sarcastically.

Mr Fenech thanked all those who had voted and worked for him over the years without asking for anything back.

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