This article is available in Maltese.
The head of the Public Service, Tony Sultana, appointed by Prime Minister Robert Abela, has spent tens of thousands of euro through direct orders using suppliers and service providers with Labour Party links while also boosting his image.
Through the Office of the Prime Minister’s Finance and Administration Directorate, Sultana issued several direct orders for parties, gala dinners, events, and other publicity initiatives during the first six months of 2023.
According to information published in the Government Gazette, the largest event organised by Sultana was the Public Service Expo at the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre (MFCC) earlier this year, with a final bill totalling a conservative estimate of €300,000.
In many cases, The Shift noted that direct orders totalling tens of thousands of euro for complex or labour-intensive tasks were approved on the evening of the event or a day or two before.
This raises suspicions that the direct order was a formality with the deal agreed on weeks or months before instead of going through a competitive tendering process.
The event, aimed at showing how advanced the Maltese public sector is, saw the launch of a new logo by Sultana.
This came with a hefty price tag as Pure Concepts – who also design Labour’s PR campaigns – was given a direct order of €53,000 for the project, approved just two days before the final product was unveiled.
Sultana approved direct orders to AF Printworks – the company that handles all Labour’s billboards – to supply a stand for €25,000, Nexos Lighting for €31,000 and Besteam Audio for €11,000.
Nexos and Besteam regularly provide services to the Labour Party for mass events and electoral campaign rallies.
In addition, Sultana spent €23,000 to hire LED walls for the expo through direct order from NnG Promotions, another €26,000 for stage design and video control from Mad About Video and €43,000 for Corinthia Caterers to provide food during the week-long activity. Corinthia also owns the MFCC and was paid another €123,000 for its use.
Two direct orders worth €65,000 for a party at the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta at the end of April were approved three days before the event. They comprised €45,000 worth of food from James Caterers and €21,000 worth of drinks from Alfsons Enterprises of Hamrun.
Other direct orders Sultana gave include €31,000 to G Media for ‘filming, editing and video service’. This one-man company is owned by Gareth Degiorgio, who provided ‘free’ photography services to Prime Minister Robert Abela during his leadership campaign.
Ikona Artworks was handed a €45,000 direct order to provide ‘consultancy services for brand management’. At the same time, Born Digital, with offices in Pieta, was given a €140,000 direct order to ‘develop, configure and produce’ 26 platforms hosting the websites of government ministries.