“A loyal, well-read and cultured man focused on how to implement what he wants to achieve" - Prime Minister Robert Abela
Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar announced that he will be retiring from his position as Head of the Public Service at the end of this month. The announcement was made during a speech at the final conference held as part of Public Service Week 2022. Addressing the same conference, Prime Minister Robert Abela described Mario Cutajar as a loyal, well-read, and cultured man focused on what he wants to achieve and on how to implement it.
Mr Cutajar explained that he had informed the Prime Minister last September that he had reached pensionable age and wished to retire. They agreed that Mr Cutajar would wait until the end of that legislature and help the new Government get in place. Mr Cutajar said that it is now the right moment to leave office—at the beginning of a new legislature, and therefore a new government programme, and at the start of the implementation of the new Public Service strategy.
Mr Cutajar will be ending a 46-year career in the Public Service, during which he worked in various government departments and parastatal bodies. For a number of years he also represented Public Service employees within the General Workers' Union.
He became Head of the Public Service in 2013, in the very first appointment made upon the change of government. The Public Service went through major transformations during his tenure at its helm. This renewal has been expounded in the textbook Public Service Reforms in a Small Island State: The Case of Malta. The last major task completed by Mr Cutajar as Head of the Public Service was the design and preparation of the five-year holistic strategy 'Achieving a Service of Excellence', the implementation of which was initiated during Public Service Week 2022.
Announcing his retirement in a speech which was received with a standing ovation by the public officers present, Mr Cutajar thanked the two Prime Ministers who appointed him for their trust in him. He said that it was a privilege for him to contribute in transforming the Public Service from one which was an electoral issue to one which has gained the trust of most people and which satisfies the vast majority of its clients.
“It has been a privilege for me to work with many others to break away from the mentality that anything goes for the Public Service; to ensure that nowadays people get a better service, not having to visit several offices in order to be served; to make the Public Service a leader in many areas of the society we live in. Looking back at what we have achieved together, it really holds true that never before in the history of the Public Service were so many changes carried out in such a short time," said Mr Cutajar.
Listing some of these changes, Mr Cutajar mentioned the grouping of government services under one roof in one-stop-shops across the island as well as in a single website; the delivery of an efficient service via telephone and even through a callback system; the setting up of the Institute for the Public Services; putting accountability into practice through annual publications on the implementation of Budget measures and the recommendations of institutions of scrutiny; the signing of the first general collective agreement of its kind; and a new law on Public Administration.
“I am leaving this position satisfied that together we have managed to change the Public Service. I am leaving this position happy with the successes we have achieved together. I am leaving this position fully convinced that the Public Service is better than I found it. I am leaving this position confident that we have achieved enough for our successors to do more than we did. Together we've reached our goals!" concluded Mr Cutajar.
Prime Minister Robert Abela thanked Mario Cutajar warmly for his work. He said that in him he has always found a man who gives honest advice—a loyal, well-read, and cultured man who is a pleasure to discuss ideas with and whom one enjoys working with, as he is always focused on what he wants to achieve and how to implement it.