Tista taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
Malta’s national heritage agency – Heritage Malta spent over €45,000 on a party to celebrate its 20th anniversary in September, according to information given to parliament, but there was no data on which suppliers were used or how their services were procured.
The agency was established by the Cultural Heritage Act and is responsible for managing museums, sites and their collections and conservation throughout the country.
Taking place at Fort St Elmo, one of the sites under its supervision, Chairman Mario Cutajar and CEO Noel Zammit planned an evening of videos on the agency’s work over the years and a reception with live music.
According to information given in parliament to MP Julie Zahra, the bill for the three-hour party, paid for with public funds, amounted to more than €45,000.
The money was spent on catering, lighting and sound, and other hospitality services, and the venue itself was free because it was in the custody of Heritage Malta.
No details were given on the procurement arrangements for the event, but Heritage Malta officials told The Shift that suppliers were those known for being close to the Labour Party with a history of being selected for similar events.
As for the cost of individual services, some €5,000 was spent on food, while at least €11,000 was spent on renting LED screens to project Cutajar’s speech.
Audiovisual material, music videos and filming for the occasion cost taxpayers another €11,000, € 6,000 was spent on renting lighting equipment and €3,000 on a sound system.
The party also included a DJ to keep guests entertained for €1,300.
Cutajar previously spent many years at the General Workers’ Union as deputy secretary general before resigning due to differences with the then-administration. He was then posted to Heritage Malta but sidelined after a management falling out. Cutajar later claimed he was discriminated against and won a court case, plus compensation.
When the Labour Party came to power in 2013, Cutajar was appointed head of the civil service and then took over the post of executive director at Heritage Malta.
After retiring from public service, shortly after Robert Abela became prime minister, he was appointed chairman of Heritage Malta, topping up his pension with a few extra thousand euros a year.
Under his watch, Heritage Malta has been embroiled in several controversies, including plans to turn the Natural History Museum courtyard in Mdina into an alfresco restaurant through a direct order. The plan was shelved only after significant public backlash.
But it was a similar story at Ta Bistra Catacombs, hired to be used by a ‘friendly’ restaurateur from Mosta.
Following various reports by The Shift about maladministration at the agency, Noel Zammit, the handpicked CEO of Cutajar, sent a memo to all staff, warning them of disciplinary action if they give out information to third parties.