Hour-long Special Olympics opening ceremony in Valletta cost €1.8 million

Eighty direct orders were issued in a few days, leading to taxpayers footing the bill for an additional €276,000

 

The opening ceremony of the Special Olympics Invitational Games held in Valletta’s St George’s Square last May set taxpayers back almost €2 million.

Most of the work was carried out by the same organisers involved in the Labour Party’s electoral campaign just a few weeks earlier. At the same time, some 80 additional direct orders were issued just a few days in the run-up to the ceremony.

An analysis of new information tabled in parliament following questions by Opposition MP Mark Anthony Sammut shows the bulk of the activities required to set up the stage, sound and lighting systems for the occasion was awarded by tender to the same group of companies that had organised Labour’s mass events for its electoral campaign just two months earlier.

But even in this case, where the tender was issued through a so-called ‘accelerated procedure’ that severely limits competition, the near-€1 million budget earmarked for the ceremony was significantly overshot.

Nexos & Co Ltd, the lighting company used by the Labour Party for its political meeting requirements during the last electoral campaign, was supposed to have spent some €445,000 on the event but ended up being paid €580,000 – an additional €135,000.

IStage Ltd, owned by Charles Magro, the staunch Labour activist who has been awarded millions of euros in direct orders through his company TEC Ltd, spent over €100,000 more than what had been allocated and ended up being paid €485,000.

ICAN Ltd, owned by Keith Chetcuti, a close collaborator of disgraced former OPM boss Keith Schembri, was paid €227,000, which is €80,000 more than what had been allocated for the service.

The Special Olympics ceremony.

According to the tender, these companies should have been responsible for all the facilities needed for the event. But Festivals Malta, controlled directly by one of Prime Minister Robert Abela’s persons of trust (Aaron Zahra), issued a raft of direct orders to cover extra costs.

Making sure that several others close to the Party take a piece of the pie, even during an event dedicated to people with special needs, at least 80 different direct orders were issued in the final few days before the ceremony, which lasted for an hour.

Among the direct orders was almost €10,000 awarded to Jean Naudi for makeup, €5,000 to Conrad Cachia for hair styling, €600 to Simon Bartolo for ‘writing services’, €1,710 to purchase coffee machines for ‘backstage hospitality’, and even €423 for a Raja & Co dress for singer Ira Losco.

Ira Losco’s dress was purchased by direct order for €423

Anton Attard’s Mint Media was meanwhile paid €3,500 for a TV operator, Yada Dance Company, owned by veteran dancer and Labour candidate Felix Busuttil, was paid €3,500 for direction and choreographic input, while Ronnie Vella, another Labour activist, was paid €560 for acting as the event’s coordinator.

In total, all the extra costs and direct orders saw taxpayers footing an additional €276,000 for the event, which brought the opening ceremony’s total costs up to a staggering €1.8 million.

The ceremony was presided over by the Prime Minister’s wife, Lydia Abela, who replaced Michelle Muscat as President of Special Olympics Malta after Joseph Muscat’s ousting from Castille.

                           
                           
                               
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Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago

Money no problem for those close to the PL. Unfortunately money is a huge problem for the rest of us peasants when it comes to make ends meet for essential items.

Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
1 month ago

It makes you wonder who are the ones with the special needs.

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

That is why the University of Malta was robbed of €1 MILLION. Somebody had to pay. The students are living with smoke in their eyes , cannabis and condoms , who cares about education funds.

Charles Bartolo
Charles Bartolo
1 month ago
Reply to  makjavel

Even the most blinkered cannot deny the deadly diseases afflicting our island so I’ll take the Mintoffian-era jab. Back to the university students, unless they have a position of trust or fake consultancy lined up for them by their favourite sugar daddy minister, they will find the real world much less fun when trying to make something out of their lives on this rock.

John Borg
John Borg
1 month ago

Fejn hu Clyde Caruana ????

I. Gatt
I. Gatt
1 month ago

Sleaze sleaze and nothing but sleaze, that is the question?

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

But €1000000 of the bill was hijacked from the Students in the University,

Bamboccu
Bamboccu
1 month ago

Bla Misthija
Bla Qalb
Bla kuxjenza
Hekk hu l Gvern tal Labour.
U maghna l haddiema jixxahhah.

carlos
1 month ago

What ever happens in mafiamalta is tainted with corruption.

JJC
JJC
1 month ago

X’kien ma tawh xejn lill Jeremy.J.Camilleri, dak li jifhem f’kollox, u tiegħu biss tajjeb?
Mela għalhekk rega’ beda jispara bl-addocc.

A38
A38
1 month ago

Spending Galore!!!
Air Malta redundancies could near €60 million for 345 employees

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