Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg, tasked with hosting Europride in Malta next month, is refusing to give details on the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer funds already spent on the event.
The government is earmarking a €2.5 million budget for the international event, but details on its administration are scarce.
Sources close to the organisation of this week-long “diversity party” told The Shift that the government is dishing out funds to very few event organisers, and public procurement rules are being completely ignored.
The Labour Party has a track record of using grand-scale events, such as the Malta Film Awards, to boost the Party’s profile.
According to the same sources, a company called Greaat, owned by former PN mass events organisers Anton Attard and Mark Grech, the latter a former MZPN President, better known as Guru, have been tasked by Buttigieg to take care of most of the organisation.
Even a dedicated website set up for this event was produced by Sour Punch Ltd – a subsidiary of Greaat, together with another shareholder, Kimberly Lowell.
It is as yet unclear whether the Attard-Grech tandem has been selected through a public tender.
The two are known to have good connections with Luke Dalli, the Labour presenter and son of EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli, who pushed hard for this event to be held in Malta.
The Home Affairs Ministry, in which Buttigieg is a Parliamentary Secretary, did not reply to questions for an official breakdown on how much of the €2.5 million budget has been spent so far, whether any tenders have been published, who won and who received direct orders.
Instead, a spokesman just said that so far, a total of €574,000 have already been spent in deposits, mostly €521,095 on music performances to be held during the LGBTIQ+ Malta week.
Festival being used to boost profile of Buttigieg and Dalli
Government sources have told The Shift that the international festival to be held in Malta is being used by both Rebecca Buttigieg and Helena Dalli to boost their personal profile.
Buttigieg, a newcomer who was only elected to parliament through the gender mechanism, was immediately given a junior minister post by Robert Abela and made responsible for reforms and equality.
However, despite the controversial issues surrounding her portfolio, including legislation on cannabis growing, she has made little to no impact so far.
On her part, Dalli, given the least prestigious of portfolios as a Maltese commissioner since Malta joined the EU in 2004, is making every effort to be seen as the champion of gay rights among her counterparts.
While on an EU level, Dalli exerted no real power and was not even any directorate-general (ministry) within the European Commission, she wants to use the event in Malta as some ‘triumph’ as her five-year term as EU Commissioner is soon ending.
With Buttigieg, Dalli will be presiding over the major events in September’s Europride.