Parnis made committee chair after Cabinet ouster

Silvio Parnis – the only member of Robert Abela’s first Cabinet to be left out of his second in last month’s reshuffle – has been made chair of Parliament’s Social Affairs Committee, an appointment that entitles him to a higher honorarium than fellow MPs.

Parnis had been Parliamentary Secretary for Active Ageing prior to the reshuffle, but his term proved to be controversial, not least due to the high rates of elderly deaths from Covid-19 that had been recorded in Malta last October. His ill-advised decision to gift roly-polies to elderly constituents won him no favours.

In the wake of a reshuffle, Parnis informed his canvassers that he did not intend to contest any future election.

While other members of the Abela Cabinet had been targeted for criticism pre-reshuffle, none were left out in the cold. New Cabinet posts were created for former Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia-Portelli and former Education Minister Owen Bonnici, now the ministers responsible for inclusion and for research and innovation respectively. While Parnis was reportedly offered the local government portfolio, the offer was turned down, leaving him the only casualty in a reshuffle which increased the sizeable number of ministers and parliamentary secretaries even further.

The committee chairmanship – Parnis is replacing former MP Etienne Grech, who resigned from Parliament last October – thus appears to be a consolation prize of sorts.

The government had pursued a similar tactic when Abela came to power, with January’s Cabinet casualties, with former ministers Justyne Caruana and Joe Mizzi, as well as former parliamentary secretary Anthony Agius Decelis, made committee chairs. Caruana has since returned to Cabinet as Education Minister.