The new CEO of the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation, which in 2013 announced a new museum was to open its doors in 2018, is refusing to indicate when the multi-million-euro tourist attraction will be completed.
Despite the millions, mostly funded by the EU, that have already been invested in the project, sources close to the Foundation have informed The Shift that it is still in its early stages and that the 150-odd pillars required for the museum’s foundations have not yet been finished.
Even though the Foundation led by the Archbishop’s nominee Rev. Emmanuel Agius decided in 2021 to replace then-CEO Cynthia De Giorgio and give the beleaguered project a new impetus, she was retained on the same salary and perks and is still curating the project.
When The Shift reported in 2021 that De Giorgio was being replaced a year after reaching pensionable age, she told The Shift it was being estimated that the museum was to open its doors in 2023.
She had also said that her being replaced as CEO was not related to the project’s delay.
The Shift is now informed that the project’s completion timeline has been revised yet again and that no one has a precise idea of when it will be completed.
Sources with knowledge of the Foundation’s workings speaking to The Shift have highlighted how the project has been mismanaged, with millions of euro wasted on consultancies, retainers, and unrelated ancillary costs.
The Foundation receives an annual financial subvention from taxpayer funds.
Asked for an update on the project and an indication of its new completion date, current CEO Tonio Mallia declined to answer any questions.
Instead, while making it clear that he was merely acting as the Foundation’s board messenger, he told The Shift, “The Foundation is progressing with the Museum project with the assistance of various consultants.”
Nor did Mallia reply when asked to explain what stage the 10-year-old project was at, how much has been spent so far and why the Foundation has not published an annual financial report since 2020.
Instead, he insisted: “The Foundation shares all information concerning this project in terms of its statute, and, in concurrence with the stakeholders, publishes relevant details from time to time.”
St John’s Co-Cathedral, one of the country’s most important national treasures, is managed by the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation, governed by a council of three members appointed by the Archbishop and another three by the prime minister.
The Archbishop and the Prime Minister must be in agreement to keep all relevant information away from the public. No surprise re the PM but disappointing re the Archbishop.