Tista taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has spent almost €5 million in direct orders since the appointment of Ian Borg as foreign affairs minister in March 2022, data tabled in parliament on Monday shows.
Almost half a million in direct orders were spent on flights for Borg and his delegations, with tens of thousands more spent on flights for ambassadors and ministry officials.
The documents were tabled by Borg in parliament on Monday in response to a parliamentary question by opposition Nationalist Party MP Beppe Fenech Adami
Borg was moved to the foreign affairs ministry last year following a cabinet reshuffle after the 2022 general elections. In his previous role as minister for transport, he had been criticised for the transport ministry’s widespread use of direct orders, totalling €12 million in six months.
Analysis of the tabled data shows that travel agency Tristar Travel was awarded most of the direct orders to provide Borg’s flight tickets. Including travel expenses for other ministry officials, the agency was awarded €322,000 in direct orders in March of 2022.
The sum covered the Minister and his delegation’s multiple trips to Doha, New York, Brasilia, New Delhi, Japan, Libya and Morocco but excluded the cost of five-star hotels and other related expenses.
The Ministry issued a lavish €67,000 direct order to rent 108 square metres of exhibition space to set up a “Maltese pavilion” at the upcoming Dubai Gulf food exhibition in February 2024
The list of direct orders includes a €26,000 direct order to purchase ‘themed’ men’s ties, women’s scarves and bags to use as merchandise for Malta’s – uncontested – UN candidacy. Malta was the only country vying for the seat.
Ray Attard, Minister Borg’s canvasser and personal campaign photographer, employed through an unprecedented contract, also featured on the list of direct orders, occasionally mentioned by name as part of the ministerial delegations.
This year, Attard’s contract with the ministry has been changed to that of an advisor, offering Minister Borg a way to retain his personal friend while not falling foul of public service rules.
The lavish spending through direct orders quells claims that government authorities such as the Foreign Affairs Ministry will decrease spending and cut extravagance as part of a government effort to stem the spiralling of national debt.