The Events Company, better known as TEC, provided Minister Ian Borg with at least six massive tents and related costly services to organise electoral campaign events in his districts during the last general elections, an investigation by The Shift has found.
So far, the minister has refused to give any details about his connections to the private events company owned by Labour stalwart Charles Magro, nor to state whether he has paid for the services provided costing tens of thousands of euros.
Just a few months before the general elections, Borg’s ministry issued some 20 direct orders worth almost €0.5 million to the same company in just one day. The direct orders were related to the launch of a proposal for Malta to have a metro.
During the past legislature, Borg or authorities falling under his political remit, such as big spenders Transport Malta and Infrastructure Malta, have used the services of TEC or related companies dozens of times, usually through direct orders, with taxpayers forking out hundreds of thousands of euros in payments.
Borg has refused to answer questions about how many times he used TEC and related companies during the last electoral campaign or to provide a breakdown of expenses incurred, including receipts to prove payments.
Instead, he said that he has already presented his campaign expenses declaration to the electoral commission in which all details were listed. Asked again to provide a copy of this report, as the Electoral Commission has still not made it public, as it is obliged by law to do, Borg refused.
Sources close to the events industry told The Shift that each time a tent, such as that used by Borg, is procured, TEC normally charges clients between €6,000 and €10,000 per event.
In all, Borg organised massive gatherings using TEC’s tents on at least six occasions in different locations, including Dingli, Mgarr, Siggiewi, Rabat, Qormi, and Zebbug.
This means that if Borg was paying for the use of TEC’s services, the costs should have reached at least €36,000. Apart from the tents for the electoral gatherings, TEC also provided all accompanying services such as chairs, tables, lights, video wall screens and other services.
The ‘large’ events serviced by TEC were just a few of the many activities Borg organised during his electoral campaign.
Apart from daily appearances and small gatherings in various towns and villages in his districts, Borg held other large activities such as two coffee mornings at Villa Arrigo in Naxxar. Some of the shareholders of Villa Arrigo are involved in transport-related businesses, for which Transport Malta, under the political clout of Borg, was the regulator during the last legislature.
Following the last general elections, Prime Minister Robert Abela shunted Borg away from the transport and infrastructure ministry and into the low-key foreign ministry, which has one of the lowest budgets and does not usually issue a large number of tenders.
According to the electoral law, candidates in general elections are allowed to spend €20,000 per district they contest during the electoral campaign, including donations in kind. They are obliged to submit a sworn report of their expenses including all receipts of expenses incurred.
The deadline for candidates to submit their reports elapsed on 2 May, but so far the electoral commission has refused to make these declarations public, stating that it is still analysing the data submitted.
Chief Electoral Commissioner Joseph Camilleri does not even want to tell The Shift whether all candidates have submitted their reports according to the deadline.