Clayton’s fiction – Kevin Cassar

“I will stick to my word and table those figures once parliament is in session again,” Minister Clayton Bartolo declared before the general elections. Now he’s claiming, It is impossible to calculate how much the Malta Film Awards ceremony cost”.

Bartolo was asked a simple question in March – “How much did the Malta Film Awards cost?” He’d been fobbing off journalists and Opposition MPs for months.  He was hardly going to reveal the obscene amount of taxpayers’ money spent on one film awards night on the eve of the general elections. 

One month before, in parliament, Bartolo was asked two simple questions: “Was David Walliams paid over €240,000?”, and “Did the Malta Film Awards cost more than €2 million?”.  Bartolo’s cynical answer – “My ministry is still compiling that information, and it will be presented at a later date”. Bartolo hasn’t tabled any of that information.

Film Commissioner Johann Grech was asked seven times how much the ceremony cost. He refused to reply and deny the ceremony exceeded its €400,000 budget. His only comment: “The ceremony will provide value for money”.

To reach that conclusion, the commissioner must have known what it cost.

The Shift filed a freedom of information request asking for an explanation of how €1.3 million was spent to organise the Malta Film Week, which included the much-hyped and costly film awards ceremony. The Times of Malta also lodged a freedom of information request asking about the cost of the film awards. So did The Malta Independent. The Malta Film Commission rejected all FOI requests.

For months, Minister Bartolo claimed he was calculating how much of our money he spent on the film awards and promised he would let us know.

Now he’s decided it’s impossible to calculate. Bartolo’s pathetic excuse is that since the Malta Film Awards formed part of the Malta Film Week, he cannot determine how much the ceremony itself cost.  It took Bartolo a full six months of ‘compiling’ to figure that one out.

Bartolo was spewing more crap.  “When one negotiates a package for a whole week of events, it guarantees better prices than those paid for an individual event,” he argued. So, “The Film Commission worked on the film week as a whole package”.

But his own ministry’s Recurrent Vote 39 listed a €400,000 estimate for the film awards – not the film week. That money was specifically allocated for the event, not the week. Using those funds for the week was in effect a misuse of public funds for purposes they were not intended for.

The minister is just taking the public for a ride.  He knows it. We know it.  The minister frittered away over €1.3 million. Those film awards were a wasteful expensive opportunity for him to strut on stage and play the celebrity for a night in his shiny tuxedo.  

Joining him on the glammed-up ‘Warda Kanta’ stage were two of his fellow ministers – Carmelo Abela and Jose’ Herrera – milking the cow till the end.  But there was a long list of Labour’s A-listers – Jason Micallef, Johann Buttigieg, Norma Saliba, Mark Sammut, Albert Marshall and even Joseph Muscat’s former spokesperson Kurt Farrugia.

The only people missing were the successful film producers who boycotted the event in sheer disgust over the wanton waste of public funds.

The minister knows exactly how much was spent that night. He also knows how much was spent on the European Film Awards held in Malta under a PN administration in 2011 as he revealed in parliament.

How come the incompetent Nationalists calculated precisely how much was spent on that European Film Awards ceremony yet the competent Clayton cannot figure out how much he spent on the Malta Film Awards?  He lashed out with an offensive rant in parliament, accusing the PN of “hating” and “attacking” the film industry.

Why should we worry that Bartolo takes us for fools? Why should it matter that he blatantly misleads parliament and conceals the truth? It’s because he represents an arrogance and a brazen disregard for the public he serves and whose money he fritters away.

He represents Labour’s utter disdain for transparency and accountability. He typifies Labour’s untrustworthiness, unreliability and untruthfulness.

His dogged rejection of repeated FOI requests about the event is a nasty joke. Instead of adopting a fresh policy of honest and ready disclosure, Labour expends its energy and taxpayers’ money to subvert access to information, unswerving in its defiance of rulings of the information and data protection commissioner.

Why is Bartolo so desperate to keep the awards ceremony shrouded in a thick cloak of secrecy?

He simply cannot reveal where €708,011 for ‘logistics’ or €478,520 of “creative” actually went.

Tens of thousands certainly went to TEC Ltd. Since 2013 TEC Ltd supplied the Labour Party with most of the equipment, including the massive tents used for public activities.

Soon after the film awards, TEC Ltd provided Ian Borg with its services for six electoral campaign events.  Invoices Borg submitted provide scant information about what services TEC provided – “supply and set-up, including dismantling of event equipment” – or whether he paid adequately. TEC Ltd was previously given €424,000 by Borg’s ministry through 20 direct orders for the metro project launch – in a single day.

Aaron Farrugia used TEC Ltd too. So did Miriam Dalli, Byron Camilleri, Chris Bonnett, Anton Refalo, and Jonathan Attard. The owner of TEC Ltd, Carmelo Magro, maliciously accused Tonio Fenech of having work done at his Balzan home for free before the 2013 elections. Those claims were false, and Fenech was awarded €4,000 in damages from Joseph Muscat, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi and Glenn Bedingfield, who peddled Magro’s lies. 

The court ruled that “It is a pity that politicians give credence to people like Charles Magro who are prepared to tarnish anyone’s image, solely for their own financial gain”. Labour’s given Magro more than just credence. It’s handed him millions of euros from taxpayers’ money in multiple direct orders. It’s not just a pity, it’s an utter sleazy disgrace. 

No wonder Clayton Bartolo keeps hiding the truth.  He gave us his word.  We suspected it didn’t count for much. Now we know.

                           
                               
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KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

Pigsty of government under the leadership of the biggest ROBBER Abela.

Shame on you away.

D M Briffa
D M Briffa
1 month ago

Clayton Bartolo is too embarrassed to tell us the truth: the government haven’t been able to do the maths because no one possesses a calculator with enough digits.

The good news is that when we really begin to feel the pinch in a year or two’s time these, and similar stories, will come back to haunt the government. The opposition, if it can organise itself, could have a field day. There’s no shortage of ammo.

Greed
Greed
1 month ago
Reply to  D M Briffa

But I’m sure he can calculate and count any money that may have been giving to him in brown envelopes and am sure that his maths would surely kick in to overdrive to make sure he may have got all his dues?

Keith Lewins
Keith Lewins
1 month ago

One of the main issues is that the actual film awards were always for home consumption – who will pay for broadcast rights to a Maltese language program? Most such award shows Oscar’s, BAFTA’s, Cannes Film Awards, etc are presented in English, and therefore can be sold to an international audience. Therefore no exposure for Maltese filmmakers was derived from this fiasco,

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago

What about the Minister of Finance Clayton Bartolo. He should take the bull by the horns and ensure that public funds are spent according to established procedures and accounted for in a professional manner.
This government’s attitude, is simple. We are in power and we decide how to spend taxpayers’ funds. Do not ask how or why or how much.
No wonder that Malta’s National Debt in 10 years has risen to a staggering 10 billon euros.

carlos
1 month ago
Reply to  Francis Said

Dawn jafu li hawn nofs il-poplu gifa, korrott u njorant ghalhekk ghandhom rashom mistrieha li jistghu jkomplu jisirqu. Soluzzjoni Wanda biss hemm – li l-poplu jinzel fit-toroq u jitlob li ssir gustizzja.

M.Galea
M.Galea
1 month ago

Every thing they do its business for them! Money into their own pockets and to win the majority they tell us its for the economy, and the sheep applauds!

carlos
1 month ago

Kollha (tal-muvument korrott) jisirhu kemm jifilhu. anglu qal li l-parlament sar maqjel – l-unika verita’ li qatt lissen. Ma tantx tistenna ahjar meta kellna pm dikkjarat korrott, u issa ghandna bhal pm il-konsulent tal- korrott. Mafiamalta

Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

In a private and independent commercial company/enterprise, Clayton Bartolo, would be guilty of wrongful trading, which is a criminal offence. Furthermore, witholding information/documentation from public scrutiny, would constitute another criminal offence.
As a Minister, Clayton would also be called up by the Minister of Finance, and censured for overspending on the budget of a government entity which had been approved in Parliament. In other words, he gave his middle finger, to the taxpayer and Parliament.
On the transaction itself, Clayton should know, barring his ignorance or convenient ignorance, that even when a commercial entity asks for a comprehensive quote, it is good accounting practice, to ask for a detailed breakdown of the services included.
So, Clayton, don’t think that everyone is gullible like your chicken brain followers. Those who have some brains and use them, know that you are a hypocrite and a cheeky wrongdoer.

carlos
1 month ago

Il-kawza tar-rivoluzzjonijiet huma il-gvernijiet korrotti kif ghandna f’Mafiamalta.

Nicholas
Nicholas
1 month ago

Jaqq ta bniedem. M’hux hekk, dawk m’hux flus tieghu imma flus tal poplu. Mur gib lill familja tieghu jonfqu kif gi gi ara kieku x’jaghmel. Nerga nighid bniedem vojt kollu.

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