The Transport Ministry has dished out almost €60 million in direct orders in the last three years, an analysis conducted by The Shift shows.
Infrastructure Malta and Transport Malta, both government agencies that fall under Minister Borg’s responsibility, were by far the biggest public spenders.
Infrastructure Malta, led by Fredrick Azzopardi, a former Labour councillor and Enemalta chairman under whom the scandalous Electrogas and Montenegro wind farm deals were negotiated, distributed a staggering €34.5 million in direct orders between 2018 and 2020. The agency is currently facing the ire of activists and residents protesting against a new road in Dingli.
Transport Malta, led by Joseph Bugeja – a technocrat appointed by Ian Borg – spent almost €16 million on direct orders.
The General Workers Union (GWU) was one of the main beneficiaries. It was paid hundreds of thousands of euros for the renting of its premises at the A3 Towers used by the transport agency. In addition, a company called Paola Estates, which is fully owned by the GWU was paid €500,000 for ‘other’ rent-related expenses, including the payment of hefty water and energy bills.
The union’s lawyer, as well as Konrad Mizzi’s personal lawyer, Aron Mifsud Bonnici, received €254,942 for legal fees and other services related to the Ministry and its entities.
Transport Malta also issued over 50 direct orders to the same company to hire ‘clerical services. Registered in 2018, B&A Manpower Company Ltd has been paid over €1.5 million over three years to provide the transport agency with clerical staff. This system is usually used to bypass recruitment procedures in a political system in which clientelism and nepotism are rife.
Saviour Balzan, the Executive Director and owner of Malta Today, is being paid for assisting Minister Ian Borg in his public relations efforts. Balzan, through his parallel commercial entity Business 2 Business Ltd, signed three contracts with Ian Borg to work on the ministry’s media strategy – all were direct orders. So far, he has pocketed €50,400 from these contracts.
William Lewis, organising secretary of the Labour Party, received at least €200,000 from direct orders issued by entities falling under the Transport Ministry, apart from additional hundreds of thousands of euros he was paid through Infrastructure Malta.
Another architect, Frank Muscat, was given over 15 direct orders in three years for work and advice on various public infrastructure projects. Borg’s Ministry alone paid him €272,942.
The research was based on direct orders published in the Government Gazette over the years.