Three ministers hand out €1.3 million in direct orders

Three Ministers have distributed some €1.3 million in direct orders in the lead up to the national election. According to the Government Gazette, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo spent almost €700,000 in direct orders, while Family Affairs Minister Michael Falzon and Social Accommodation Minister Roderick Galdes also used public funds to curry favour with close individuals.

Bartolo came under fire last month when The Shift revealed he had transferred his girlfriend, who served as his personal secretary in his private secretariat, to the secretariat of his cabinet colleague Clint Camilleri, a move widely suspected to be an attempt to avoid the same scandal that hit former Education Minister Justyne Caruana.

The Tourism Ministry made headlines in recent years for the abuse of millions of euros in public funds by the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), which issued another eleven direct orders between July and December 2021.

Dom Galea, a DJ and private party organiser, was given an €85,000 contract to act as a marketing manager for digital media, a job that involves promoting MTA events. The recruitment of the former property agent coincided with the pandemic, when nearly all events were cancelled or postponed.

Music Media Ltd, a company controlled by Johanna Grech, was paid €68,000 by direct order for unknown agency services related to the BBC Orchestra and Solo concert event, and Bonnici Brothers, whose Managing Director Gilbert Bonnici was a business partner of Prime Minister Robert Abela, was paid €34,000 for repair works at the Hibs Ground in Kordin.

Bartolo’s largest direct order in the last six months was given to a young architect, Roderick Spiteri, who received €105,000 to provide architectural services for the renovation of the promenade at Ghadira Bay. A former Labour Mayor of Paola, Spiteri was appointed to the Planning Authority’s appeals board in 2015, at a time when Bartolo sat on the board of the same authority.

Bartolo wasn’t alone in handing out direct orders in the lead up to the election.

Social Justice Minister Michael Falzon, forced to resign in the previous legislature over the Gaffarena property scandal, was responsible for 15 new direct orders in the last six months of 2021, costing taxpayers close to €200,000.

Pensioner John Pisani, a former cameraman at One TV, was paid €10,000 for ‘media related services’. Television personality Ben Camille was paid 7,200 to act as ‘ambassador’ for a retirement savings campaign called ‘Gemma’. And Idea Consulting, owned by Silvio Debono, a former Labour commentator who resigned as chairman of MCAST’s board of governors over allegations of corruption, received two direct orders worth €56,000 for an operational review of the Ministry’s Inwork Benefits Section, and for the drafting of a quality service charter.

Another half million euros was spent by Social Accommodation Minister Roderick Galdes in 32 different direct orders.

Dianne Galea, a lawyer at Michael Falzon’s Ministry and a Labour Party representative on the Electoral Commission, was paid €5,000 for ‘negotiations’. Nathan Borg, a photographer from Siggiewi, which is in the Minister’s electoral district, was paid €6,500 for ‘media services’. And Sarah Zammit, producer of One TV and PBS programmes, was paid €5,000 to make a documentary about the Housing Authority.

Galdes, whose portfolio includes social housing, admitted last week to personally calling constituents whose request for government housing had been accepted. Applicants would normally be notified of the decision by the Housing Authority.


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2 years ago

Alla jbierek x’figuri dawk!! Il-vera hniezer!

2 years ago

All in aid of the Birds and the Bees? They all vote for the loggers who clear the land .

Carmel Callus
Carmel Callus
2 years ago

Roderick Galdes has just sent us a colourful booklet as part of his electoral campaign. It would be interesting if he were to tell us who paid for this booklet.

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