Minister refuses to divulge names of developers receiving €4 million from Malta Enterprise

The government agency responsible for attracting foreign direct investment towards Malta is refusing to divulge information regarding some €4 million given to construction industry players in direct cash grants.

Malta Enterprise, with the consent of the minister responsible, Miriam Dalli, has turned down a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by The Shift asking for a list of beneficiaries given tens of thousands each to buy construction equipment such as trucks, forklifts, excavators and diggers.

This information is classified as “secret and confidential”, according to Malta Enterprise,  interpreting a 2003 law stating that information regarding investment grants and their beneficiaries should not be divulged without the minister’s consent.

The Shift only asked for a list detailing the beneficiaries and the amount they received from public funds, not the actual contracts signed with individual contractors.

Malta Enterprise is led by Kurt Farrugia – disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s Head of Communications at the OPM.

The Shift has now filed a call for disclosure with the Data Protection Commissioner calling for an investigation into possible wrong and abusive interpretation of the law by Malta Enterprise to deny information to the public.

Malta Enterprise CEO accompanying former prime minister Joseph Muscat in court.

Millions for the developers while the industry is thriving

While the construction industry has experienced a boom in past years as the Labour government changed planning rules and opened the floodgates for massive construction projects all over the island, the government still felt the need to dish out taxpayer funds to ‘help’ a thriving yet controversial industry.

Floated in October 2020, the ‘Construction Industry Scheme’ called for companies and self-employed individuals to apply for cash grants so that they could buy modern equipment.

This financial assistance given to developers from taxpayers has been described by Minister Dalli as a way to provide incentives for the industry to become more sustainable and environment-friendly.

Four million euros were up for grabs and, as expected, it was an enormous success, so much so that the scheme had to be closed before the deadline as there were more applicants than money available.

In August, boasting about the ‘immense number of applicants’ that came forward for this scheme, Miriam Dalli announced that some €3.6 million were to be distributed among 64 beneficiaries while dozens of others were left out.

Who’s in and who’s out is not in the public interest

Asked to give details on the beneficiaries, the amount given to each and what equipment they would be buying, Malta Enterprise is now refusing to be held accountable saying the law regulating its operations obliges it not to give any details.

Yet sources described this refusal as “a textbook excuse” so applicants and the public are unable to keep tabs on who got what and how public funds were being used.

“If the government does not want to say who got what, how can we ever know why we were not given any funds,” one of the applicants who was not selected told The Shift.

“We all know the big players and how they manage to turn a non-starter project into a sudden planning permit. These are probably all on the list of Malta Enterprise,” he said.

While the Malta Enterprise Act does say that officials cannot divulge information on beneficiaries, it also states that all information can still be given at the request of the Minister or the Board.

Ironically, various constituted bodies who have been harping on the need for more government transparency and accountability sit on the Malta Enterprise board, nominated by the government. These include the Malta Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of SMEs.

So far these entities have remained silent on the continuous lack of transparency by Malta Enterprise.

                           
                               
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carlos
18 days ago

kurt tghallem hafna minn ghand l-akbar pm korrott li qatt rat Malta. U l-miriam dalli -Tt dawn mhux flusek u l-polu ghand DRiTT li jkun jaf ghand min qed jispiccaw il-miljuni. ISTHI.

M.Galea
M.Galea
18 days ago
Reply to  carlos

Tisthi? Ma tarax!!

Charles P
Charles P
17 days ago
Reply to  carlos

This ex ONE journalist earns 500 euros per day. Kurt, Muscat, and Keith Schembri were the ONLY ones that negotiated the Azerbaijani deal.

John
John
18 days ago

Miriam Dalli is the former consultant of disgraced and corrupt Konrad Mizzi. Enough said.

James
James
18 days ago

So much for the Government honouring its undertakings to the FATF etc to improve transparency and remove the overriding suspicions of corruption with any Government contract which is awarded!!

Ingrid
Ingrid
18 days ago

Direct orders are the now the order of the day

Manuel Mangani
18 days ago

If the law obliges ME to refrain from divulging names of beneficiaries, one cannot reasonably expect it to act illegally.

However the need for transparency in the administration of public funds should be a paramount consideration in this day and age.

The law should be changed.

Melissa Joan Bagley
Melissa Joan Bagley
18 days ago

Oxxenità mill-kbar.
Il-poplu għandu kull dritt ikun jaf fejn sejrin flus pubbliku (taxxi).

Iain Morrison
Iain Morrison
18 days ago

Why on earth would they reveal details of their friends who have been gifted a fortune?

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
18 days ago

SO MUCH FOR THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT!!!
MALTA HAS NEVER BEEN AND WILL NEVER BE A
NORMAL DEMOCRACY, ESPECIALLY UNDER A
PL GOVERNMENT.

Philip
Philip
17 days ago

They all have one thing in common. They all have their fingers in the till, a till full of the nation’s millions, OUR millions. Bloody crooks!!!

Mica
Mica
16 days ago

There is nothing secret or confidential about grants being handed out from the peoples’ money. Oh what a Circus this corrupt crop has turned our country into.

JOHN CASSAR
16 days ago

Nisperaw li Kurt Farrugia jigi nvestigat ghal dak kollu li qed jaghmel gewwa Malta Enterprise.

morena
morena
16 days ago

i wish to see the new equipment being bought as all I see are old or second hand trucks .

Sammy camilleri
Sammy camilleri
15 days ago

ara lir residenti ta hal farrug ma tatomx widen ghall kumpens li kien imwghied mill gvern prezenti talli gew u wahhlu 3 tankijiet kbar tal jet fuel minghajr studju x impatt ta rniggiz ta l arja li qed ihallu fuqna ir residenti grazzi ta kemm stmajtna ministru ghax ahna zghar mhux xi – bazuzli tal qalba issa ejjew habtu il bieb ghall voti ghax wicckom joqghod u ma tisthux

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