A Labour TV personality, Claire Agius, is being paid €1,000 a month by state entity Enemed to promote a company with a virtual monopoly in the local fuel market, The Shift found.
Enemed, wholly owned by the government and under Minister Miriam Dalli’s responsibility, is running at a loss, receives substantial government subsidies, and has not published its audited accounts since 2020.
The Shift asked how the government can justify paying an influencer such a sum when it is struggling financially and has no real market competition, but no response was received.
Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request filed by The Shift, it was discovered that Agius has been contracted by Enemed since September 2021 and receives other benefits besides the monthly fee.
This includes sponsorship of her ONE TV programme, “The Local Traveller”, to the tune of €1,000 in fuel every six months.
While Enemed did not explain how Agius was selected, it stated the Labour Party TV personality has “an active presence on the internet, television, and social media, and attracts a substantial number of followers on social media.”
Enemed is the sole importer of all petrol products in Malta and has very few competitors in the diesel sector as there are almost no storage facilities except the ones controlled by the state entity. Therefore, every person buying fuel in Malta is ultimately a customer of Enemed, calling into question the need for such marketing.
Malta is the only EU member state with no competition in its fuel market, with pump prices the same in all stations and controlled by the government.
Earlier this year, The Shift revealed how a government agency, Project Green, had secretly engaged pop star Ira Losco to post photos of herself and her family enjoying themselves at Project Green activities.
Losco also tagged the personal profiles of Minister Miriam Dalli and MEP candidate Steve Ellul in her social media appearances while hiding the fact that these were sponsored posts.
The government paid her €417 for each post.
Following The Shift’s revelations, the singer stopped tagging politicians in her posts.
The one-page contract given to Losco by Project Green’s politically appointed CEO, Steve Ellul, was for six months, ending in October. It is not known yet whether Losco’s contract has been renewed.