Robert Abela is going to have a very hard time finding a replacement for the government’s most powerful bureaucrat: the state treasurer. The Permanent Secretary of The Ministry of Finances, Alfred Camilleri has made a name for himself in the government bureaucracy as a stern and dutiful technocrat. Once, in a Facebook post, Jason Azzopardi accused him of forfeiting a PN electoral victory in 2013 for rejecting the then government’s idea to lower energy prices.
Alfred constantly said no to indecent proposals by Ministers and other government bureaucrats and these came to him frequently. The only sad thing about his career is that he didn’t have enough power. In my latest book, I recount the story of how Alfred Camilleri frustrated Socar officials by delaying the signing of the Electrogas deal after insisting to introduce a condition along with the government guarantee which would have transferred the project to the government in the event the guarantee was effected.
Alfred’s career in the public service spans 44 years, having been appointed to the important post of state treasurer in 2006 after heading the National Statistics Office for ten years.
Throughout his career, he has been highly regarded by fellow bureaucrats and has led by example. He was also one of the only bureaucrats in the whole system who understood the culture industry owing to his habit of regularly consuming all kinds of art from books and theatre. As a finance and numbers guy with a passion for arts and culture, he could understand the culture industry way better than most of the culture executives in the government.
After a long and gruelling career, he is going to be much better off looking after his health and reading books. He also has a lot to tell and recount and I hope that we will keep learning from the legendary mandarin.