Minister Clayton Bartolo surreptitiously tabled an abridged version of a report in parliament on the film industry’s impact on Malta’s economy. He promised to publish the full report in the first weeks of September in August, but he didn’t. Instead, now, he has tabled an abridged version.
His excuse is that he cannot trust the opposition with the full report, but the real reason is that the report is a total sham.
The report claims to be an Economic Impact Study on the film and production industry’s impact on Malta’s economy, but it’s nothing of the sort.
It’s just a word salad of total gibberish, a shocking embarrassment littered with bad grammar, incomplete sentences and massacred English. It hasn’t been proofread, and if submitted for a secondary school project, the report would not even get an E.
And if you think I’m exaggerating, here’s the first sentence of its executive summary:
“This report presents the estimated impact from the direct expenditure of film and motion pictures productions in 2022, merited from Malta being one of the most attractive countries for pre- and post-production activities setting Malta’s position as a Mediterranean hotspot for production companies alike and adding to its competitive edge globally”.
That’s pure propaganda – and pretty dire propaganda. What does “merited from Malta” even mean? What is “a Mediterranean hotspot for production companies alike”?
This report was drawn up by Malta University Consulting and bears the emblem of the University of Malta. That report is no advertisement for the university, and it should swiftly disassociate itself from such pathetic mediocrity while suing the authors for bringing the university into disrepute.
That first sentence was no exception. The whole report is littered with basic errors and real howlers. “Thereafter subsequent periods”, “famous architecture”, “ever increasingly expanding industry”, “to bolster forward”, “in recognition to such talent” are just a few examples.
Several sentences are just left hanging incomplete: “This through NSO and Central Bank provided input output multiplier methodology and estimates”; “Contributed greatly to national export services figures”; “This following significant success and contribution to Malta’s economy”.
Plenty more is incomprehensible: “Assessment of direct effects being the first round, expenditure impacts from the direct expenditure of production upon the basis of clearly defined assumptions”. What does that mean?
Try this classic: “This is at par with other key factors identified as contended by other key evaluations of the local film industry”.
Or maybe this one: “This provides increasing recognition of the potential for screen tourism to provide destinations with a unique strategic opportunity”.
It’s so amateurish, garbled, and flawed that it can only harm Malta. No wonder Clayton Bartolo kept it hidden for so long. That’s why he won’t release the full report despite his promises – because it only elicits ridicule and embarrassment.
It’s a cheap, transparent propaganda exercise riddled with laughable hyperbolic assertions. “One of the most prominent locations that significantly contribute to screen tourism is the filming location of Popeye village whose constructed 1980s film set has been since transformed into a major local tourist attraction filled with beautiful original sets and animation activities,” the report claims.
It appears the author of the report has never been to Popeye Village.
With brazen propagandistic verve, the report lauds the Malta Film Studios. The study didn’t look at the MFS. Its brief was to study the economic impact of the film industry. But who cares?
The authors wax lyrical about MFS: “The facilities have an outstanding track record as a reliable and efficient production studio… The wide range of water SFX equipment is capable of creating realistic storm sequences in a matter of seconds and in a controlled environment. This makes MFS world renowned. This to the likes of ‘Captain Philips’, ‘Foundation’ and ‘1923’ managed by their experienced SFX crew that merit credit to their acclaimed reputation”.
That doesn’t sound like a scientific report. I’m no economist, but that doesn’t sound like an Economic Impact Study either. That’s just pure trash in bad English.
The report also claims three dinosaur installations “attracted hundreds of tourists and franchise fanatics to these locations and has continued to strengthen globally our national screen tourism proposition”.
Those dinosaurs in Vittoriosa, Mellieħa and Valletta “strengthen globally” Malta’s tourism? Nobody in his right mind can take that report seriously.
But the biggest fiction in that report is reserved for the wild claims about the massive economic benefits of Clayton Bartolo’s wisdom. With no evidence, data, or explanation, the authors claim that “Deductively, the return on investment for every €1 of public finances invested via the cash rebate scheme has resulted in a multiplier of economic contribution of €3 on the wider domestic economy”.
Where did that come from? Where is the data? To use Labour’s favourite slang, “Where is the proof”?
There is none. It was all made up by the Malta Film Commission – and the report actually states it. “We also point out that expenditure data by recent productions, directly referenced within this report, have been provided by MFC and as such were taken at face value as valid and representative estimates”.
That explains it. This was no scientific research exercise, this was no proper economic impact assessment, this was some amateur getting paid thousands of taxpayer euro for parroting the misleading inaccuracies propagated by the minister and his sidekick, Film Commissioner Johann Grech.
The report ended in precisely the same way it began – making bizarre, unsubstantiated claims in barely coherent sentences: “The evidence is clear that the local film industry has derived significant investment and, in turn economic benefits over recent years, without which would prove Malta inadequate to keep up to high industry practices and quality of competitiveness as contested by other service offerings and fiscal regimes worldwide”.
The depressing fact is that you and I have probably paid a fortune for that garbage.