HomeJobsCannabis boss Leonid McKay moved to Jobsplus as CEO removed

Cannabis boss Leonid McKay moved to Jobsplus as CEO removed


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Leonid McKay has become the second government cannabis boss to be removed from the sector in two years, following Mariella Dimech’s failure to achieve any progress.

McKay was given a new job as CEO of government employment agency Jobsplus.

Before joining the government’s cannabis regulator (ARUC), McKay was an ardent opposer of the legalisation of cannabis and headed the church’s NGO Caritas. He will be replacing Alexia Vella.

Government sources told The Shift that the change at the top of Jobsplus is intended to continue to weaken Finance Minister Clyde Caruana’s political clout.

“Alexia Vella was Caruana’s acolyte at the agency and was originally appointed in his stead in 2020 by Caruana himself when he moved from Jobsplus CEO to become Robert Abela’s chief of staff,” a senior government official told The Shift.

“Vella’s removal was expected following last month’s mini reshuffle,” he added.

Days after Jean-Paul Sofia’s inquiry was published, Prime Minister Abela removed Jobsplus from Clyde Caruana’s portfolio and handed it to the Home Affairs Ministry.

The prime minister’s stated scope was to have more coordination between Jobsplus and Identity Malta, particularly on job permits issued to third-country nationals (those who are not EU citizens).

The move was interpreted as aimed at Caruana. It has become increasingly clear that relations between Robert Abela and Caruana turned sour a few years ago.

McKay joined the government’s bandwagon in 2018 when he was appointed CEO of the Housing Authority.

In November 2022, McKay replaced Mariella Dimech (Media Today owner Saviour Balzan’s sister) who was fired after ten months in office. In a twist, she was then given another consultancy by Minister Michael Falzon to offer him “advice on the prevention of drug abuse.”

During his short stay at ARUC, McKay issued the first licences for cannabis clubs even though no effective monitoring of licencees took place.

The former CEO of JobsPlus Alexia Vella.

McKay replaced Alexia Vella, a former canvasser of then-minister Evarist Bartolo who served as his private secretary at the Education Ministry, which was then responsible for Jobsplus.

In 2015, Clyde Caruana promoted her to a top managerial position at the jobs agency, where she served as his assistant.

The Jean Paul Sofia inquiry found Jobsplus, together with other government entities, responsible for the young worker’s death. The inquiry noted that it had more board members (16) than inspectors (11) to monitor the island’s job market.


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