Labour Party mass events suppliers and those who worked on the 2022 electoral campaign benefited from around €1 million in direct orders from Festivals Malta at the time when it was being run by Norman Hamilton and Annabelle Stivala.
The list of some 100 direct orders festivals Malta awarded in the second half of 2021, just a few months before the March 2022 election, was released only this week and a few days after Stivala stepped down from the government agency.
According to public procurement rules, the agency had been obliged to publish the list six months after the award of the direct orders, but it remained unpublished for over a year.
An analysis of the lengthy list, published in the Government Gazette confirms The Shift’s earlier reports that the same people who supplied Labour’s election mass events were later compensated through direct orders for government events.
The largest public expense by Festivals Malta in the last six months of 2021 went directly to the organisation of a Maltese song festival, Muzika, Muzika, on which more than €400,000 was splashed out through direct orders.
Liquorish Productions Ltd – owned by former NET TV presenter Andrea Cassar and her husband Warren Brimmer – were given a hefty €100,000 direct order to produce a series of programmes on the festival.
The Labour television station itself was also the recipient of direct orders connected to the festival, including thousands of euros it was paid for the hiring of its Outside Broadcasting Unit as well as for adverting.
Other PL mass meeting organisers, were given repeated direct orders that were normally split into just under €10,000 portions to avoid a tender needing to be issued.
Those given these handouts include TEC Ltd, ICreate Ltd and IStage Ltd, all owned by Charles Magro, who was responsible for all mass meeting stages during PL activities.
They also include RVC Co Limited, – which provides LED screens at PL activities, sound providers Beasteam Audio and lighting contractors Nexos.
Other direct orders were awarded to Moira Delia, €5,000 for presenting the festival and Paul Abela, €20,000 split into two separate direct orders for artistic direction. Diane Nikolic was paid almost €7,000 for make-up while Mariella Calleja received a €7,000 direct order for hairdressing.
Stivala also ignored the findings of a National Audit Office report that found Festivals Malta was also breaching recruitment rules by employing its staff through direct orders that were renewed every six months.
Others kept on the direct order payroll include PL election candidate and veteran dancer Felix Busuttil, who was paid €9,000 for ‘marketing campaigns’ every six months, and Charles Marsh a former l-Orizzont photographer who paid over €6,000 every six months to “coordinate a rock festival”.
The same clique of contractors was also paid separately for other events organised by Festivals Malta and all by direct order.
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