Evarist Bartolo takes top spot, Konrad Mizzi plumets but still ahead of PM
Minister without Portfolio Konrad Mizzi has been given his lowest ranking since The Malta Independent on Sunday began commissioning its iSurvey, but has still maintained a lead over Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. He has also managed to remain in the top five out of a 23-member Cabinet.
Respondents were asked to name who they believe is the best-performing Minister or Parliamentary Secretary without being prompted in any way.
Dr Mizzi topped the list in the iSurveys of April 2016, April 2015, and May 2014. In December 2014, he was bested by then minister Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, before she became President of Malta. This time around, however, Dr Mizzi lost 8.7 percentage points, to rank fourth after receiving 10.8 per cent of mentions by respondents.
Employment and Education Minister Evarist Bartolo, who came second to Dr Mizzi this April, has now overtaken him to reach the top spot, receiving 19.5 per cent of mentions – an increase of 2.9 per cent compared to the last survey.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has held steady at fifth place, just after Dr Mizzi, receiving 8.8 per cent of mentions. He was ranked second in April 2015 (17.6 per cent), and dropped to fifth in April 2016 (9.6 per cent).
The top five names, which have remained unchanged since last April, despite the reshuffling between them, are: Employment and Education Minister Evarist Bartolo (first at 19.5 per cent), Health Minister Chris Fearne (second at 13.8 per cent), Finance Minister Edward Scicluna (third at 11.5 per cent), Minister without Portfolio Konrad Mizzi (fourth at 10.8 per cent) and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (fifth at 8.8 per cent).
The reshuffles in ranking shown in the April 2016 iSurvey, carried out in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, held on some seven months later. Minister Evarist Bartolo had jumped to second in April, after public perception of him improved following his cryptic-yetobvious social media posts criticising all those involved. He had also said that, were he in Dr Mizzi’s position, he would take the advice of former Prime Minister and current MEP Alfred Sant, and resign.
‘Panama Papers’ refers to the leak of millions of documents showing the dealings of Panamabased law firm Mossack Fonseca and its clients – often the world’s elite. It exposed the complicated financial structures set up to conceal a client’s wealth by taking advantage of financially secretive jurisdictions such as Panama and the British Virgin Isles. This can be – and has been – used to legally avoid paying tax, but serious questions have been raised as to how ethical it is to use them. While such financial structures can be used to cover up illegalities, being named in the scandal does not necessarily imply that the person concerned was involved in illegalities.
Minister Konrad Mizzi, when he still held the Energy and Health portfolios, and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, had both been identified as owning a company in Panama sheltered by a trust in New Zealand. Being politically naïve was cited as part of an apology at the time, but both denied the more serious allegations that arise as a result of such financial structures such as tax avoidance and receiving kick-backs. The resultant controversy led to Dr Mizzi losing 17.6 percentage points between April 2015 and April 2016.
While Finance Minister Edward Scicluna kept his position steady, at third best performing minister, he lost three percentage points. He had been criticised for not acting more boldly at the time that Panama Papers was unfolding, but general public perception from both sides of the political divide views him as honest and capable. The way in which the public responded to the recently announced 2017 budget also prevented him losing a higher number of mentions.
The top 10, in order, are: Education and Employment Minister Evarist Bartolo, Health Minister Chris Fearne, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, Minister without Portfolio Konrad Mizzi, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, Justice and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, Parliamentary Secretary for Active Ageing and People with Disability Justyne Caruana, Economy Minister Chris Cardona and Social Dialogue, Civil Liberties and Consumer Affairs Minster Helena Dalli.
Dr Dalli lost out, going from seventh to tenth, but this is still better than in April 2015, when she received no mentions.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Joe Mizzi no longer made the top-10 list, despite gaining 0.2 percentage points – from 1.8 per cent last April to two per cent and 12th position now. Dr Justyne Caruana took his place at number eight, gaining 1.2 percentage points since April, from 1.8 per cent to three per cent.
The subject of traffic continues to persist, but it must be said that the Kappara fly-over – a major infrastructural project – is coming along quickly.