Minister Owen Bonnici fully aware of Manoel Theatre Chair’s ‘irregular’ actions

Chairman told board contracts were not his ‘personal initiative but that he was just following instructions from the ministry’


Culture Minister Owen Bonnici was fully aware of the Manoel Theatre chairman’s six irregular contracts signed in 2019 that have already cost taxpayers half a million euros but kept re-appointing him to the position regardless.

When the contracts Chairman Michael Grech signed were suddenly terminated in 2021, various board members asked Grech to explain what happened – two years later.

They wanted to know why he entered into these contracts he is not authorised to enter into with an architectural firm without first obtaining permission from the board and the finance ministry, sources within the national theatre’s board of management have told The Shift.

But Grech, The Shift is reliably informed, told his fellow board members he was “obeying orders from above” and insisted that it was not on his “personal initiative but that he was only following instructions from the ministry”.

At the time of the contracts’ signing, the Culture Ministry was headed by Minister Owen Bonnici.

The agreements are now being contested in court, with the possibility of hefty penalties being incurred due to their sudden termination when the rest of the board became aware of the six contracts.

Asked by The Shift to confirm whether he had given Grech instructions to sign the contracts, Minister Owen Bonnici refused to explain.

He has also so far ignored other questions asking him to state whether he has taken any action on the matter and to explain why he chose to reappoint Grech to the post with an honorarium of over € 13,000 a year.

Grech is also refusing to explain his actions.

Following The Shift’s questions, Grech contacted this newsroom requesting more time to reply and explain since he was on holiday. That was mid-December, and he has still not offered any answers despite several reminders.

The Shift last month revealed how, in 2021, Grech, a partner at GVZH advocates, sent AP Valletta a termination letter informing the firm that the six contracts it signed in 2019 were being immediately terminated.

The firm, which had already run up a bill of over €500,000 by the time of the irregular contracts’ termination, has now sued the national theatre’s management in a case in which it is arguing that the government failed to pay an additional €100,000 in damages owed due to the sudden termination.

The contracts were terminated when Jose’ Herrera replaced Bonnici as culture minister.

When the culture portfolio was passed back to Bonnici’s political remit, the minister again re-appointed Grech despite the contracts’ debacle.


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10 days ago

Would be nice of the minister to clarify these matters.
As soon as he returns from Davos.

Mark Debono
Mark Debono
9 days ago
Reply to  viv

I hope there are cameras in Davos as noddy loves to be in front of a camera he would attend the opening of a fridge door if he knew his photo would be taken

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
9 days ago

Minister Bonnici is one of the first serving Ministers in the Labour administration, or to put it rightly, one of the first who wasted no time to serve himself and those who had to be served for an array of reasons. And this is besides his sheer incompetence.

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