The new head of the civil service is one of the worst performing executives in the government

The new Labour government is not giving us much room for benefit of the doubt. Already, the Labour government is giving us a clear indication that nothing is going to change in our system and politics will remain an activity of fraud, stupidity, corruption, and incompetence. Indeed, I was honestly surprised how Prime Minister Robert Abela rushed to appoint one of the worst-performing executives of the government as head of the civil service. Tony Sultana is taking the place of Mario Cutajar as Principal Permanent Secretary, a post which was previously aimed for Frank Fabri before he was forced to resign from his post as permanent secretary.

As a previous government executive, I would have never expected Tony Sultana to be promoted. MITA is one of the most inefficient government entities and is also laden with extensive rent-seeking. As government executives, we used to joke with each other that MITA is a bottomless well of public funds with no hope of ever getting fixed. The situation was so bad that no one ever wanted to bother about it. A lost cause.

During the Nationalist administration, MITA bought a state of the art data centre to host the government’s data network and entered into a lucrative partnership agreement with Microsoft to use its software to run its data centre. Labour which back then criticised the Nationalist extravagance extended the partnership when in government. This is one of the most illogical and senseless waste of funds given that with the same millions of Euros paid to Microsoft, the government could build its own software and save millions of Euros in license fees. Tony Sultana never came to this logical conclusion and this is why many executives always wondered how some procurement and maintenance managers at MITA who are responsible for the data centre, built lucrative property portfolios for themselves during their long government careers. Government executives like myself never spoke about MITA before because the incompetence and the senseless management at MITA were so pervasive that it was taken for granted. Now, I’m kind of shocked that Tony Sultana is not only getting fired but is being promoted. To add insult to injury, the software isn’t even great and MITA’s system is clunky, slow, inefficient and time-consuming. I’ve seen more efficient government systems in poor African countries.

Tony Sultana is a typical government bureaucrat who has been working for the government since 1986. It is beyond ridiculous that anyone would expect that a typical and long-serving Maltese government bureaucrat of a shabby government entity will be able to ever bring any innovation or progress to the civil service. And probably, that’s not why Tony Sultana is being appointed: contrary to what some media outlets have claimed, Tony Sultana’s appointment has got nothing to do with the digitisation of the government service. He is being appointed because he can be trusted by Labour’s top-brass. Indeed, Sultana makes no secrets of his loyal fanaticism to the corrupt. Here he is pouring adoration and praise to his Dear Leader back in 2018.

Do you think that a technocrat would do such a stupid thing? Of course, not. Tony Sultana is incompetent as they come but he has been successful in his government career by appeasing special interests.

MITA’s board of directors. Second from the right is Aaron Mifsud-Bonnici and previous lawyer to Konrad Mizzi.

There is also a very serious problem one has to keep in mind. MITA has direct access to all the emails on the government server including the emails used by magistrates, judges and the police. Would you trust Labour activists to have direct access to the emails of judges, magistrates and police officers? At the end of the day, it is irrelevant what we think because they can do whatever they want, whenever they like it.

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