Clyde Caruana to remain Abela’s right-hand man

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Clyde Caruana will continue serving as Prime Minister Robert Abela’s head of secretariat – a position of trust – even though he has been appointed as an MP, a role in which he should ostensibly scrutinise the government’s work.

Caruana confirmed this in an interview which was published by The Malta Independent.

He was one of two new MPs – former MEP Miriam Dalli was the other – to be co-opted by the Labour Party following the resignation of disgraced former PM Joseph Muscat and Fgura doctor Etienne Grech.

The new MP insisted that his situation did not constitute a conflict of interest, stating that constructive criticism was a part of the job. He added that the situation was nothing new: Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat had been Joseph Muscat’s deputy chief of staff.

Caruana has served as the Prime Minister’s head of secretariat since Abela assumed the position in January: he had previously been chief executive of JobsPlus.

In that position, he had given an interview in which he insisted that Malta needed thousands of foreign workers each year – in apparent contrast to his boss’ assertion that the country was “full-up.”

But Caruana highlighted that this did not apply at present, given the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Abela, meanwhile, has emphasised that his “full-up” assertion is selective. According to the PM, it only applied to asylum seekers, leading to accusations that he was employing racist discourse.