Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
The National Development and Social Fund, which receives the proceeds of Malta’s controversial citizenship by investment scheme, was found to have “no established policies and procedures” for allocating funds to projects, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) found.
The NAO report released this week found that the fund, which falls under the remit of the Office of Prime Minister Robert Abela, did not have transparent criteria for how it allocated some €14 million in funds across 15 projects.
In its audit, the NAO set out to establish whether NDSF funds were being distributed and invested in line with regulations set by the board, which is currently led by Chairman Jonathan Cardona.
Following an overview, the office found it could not proceed with its initial plan given that “policies were not documented” and the “subjectivity in approving the project for funding.”
Instead, the office sampled how the funds for six projects, amounting to some €10 million, were distributed over 2022.
The NAO found that “NDSF lacks a formal documented policy and standard operating procedure for selecting projects to be granted funding”. The office noted that the fund should “ensure that good governance is safeguarded” by adopting formal policies.
Additionally, the audit office found that the NDSF has not submitted its audited accounts since 2020. The NDSF claimed this was down to “technical accounting issues”.
The lack of audited accounts means an “unbiased and objective assessment” of the Fund’s state of affairs could not be made.
The NAO audit noted how government agencies did not provide detailed cost breakdowns before their funding by the NDSF was approved. The audit office noted these are “essential tools” to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability.
In June, The Shift reported how a controversial €5 million investment into SportMalta provided by the NDSF in preparation for this year’s Games of the Small States of Europe was kept opaque, with the government refusing to divulge details.
The office also found that works on NDSF-funded projects were not certified before the funds were dished out. This led to funds being disbursed “solely on the basis of invoices provided by beneficiaries”, with three-year-old projects having to be “certified retrospectively”.
NDSF funds are acquired from three sources: the Malta Individual Investor Programme, otherwise known as the Golden Passports scheme introduced under disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s government, as well as the Community Malta Agency and the Residency Malta Agency, formerly part of Identity Malta, now Identità.
Cardona, the Chair of NDSF in charge of defining policies for the disbursement of funds, is also the former CEO of Enemalta. The Shift has reported how Cardona was sacked this summer following a raft of power outages which led to nationwide blackouts.
Cardona was then transferred back to his former government role selling Maltese passports on the instructions of Prime Minister Robert Abela.