Gozo ministry’s permanent secretary ‘habitually’ abusing procurement rules

Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.

Gozo’s Ministry Permanent Secretary John Borg, installed in 2014 and surviving three consecutive different Labour ministers, has been identified as the prime culprit of rampant ongoing abuse at the Gozo ministry, particularly when using public funds.

In a damning report issued by the National Audit Office (NAO) on the ministry’s spending in 2022, Borg is highlighted for accommodating direct orders repeatedly given to the same service providers and individuals.

This goes directly against Borg’s role as permanent secretary, who is supposed to act as the guardian of upholding rules.

The NAO’s reports confirm several reports by The Shift about the rampant abuse at the Gozo ministry led by Clint Camilleri.

Examining just a few of the hundreds of direct orders issued on Borg’s watch in 2022, the NAO found that services of substantial value were being “habitually split into several contracts not exceeding the €10,000 threshold laid down in public procurement rules”.

“Such method of procurement, which merited a public call for tenders, was endorsed by the respective permanent secretary (John Borg),” the NAO said.

Gozo Permanent Secretary John Borg.

According to rules, all contracts valued over €10,000 must be awarded after a public call. However, through Borg’s endorsement, the Gozo Ministry broke up contracts into repeated chunks of direct order contracts of €10,000 each so that ‘selected’ providers could be accommodated without any competition.

The NAO noted that this illegal and abusive method was being used by the Gozo Ministry across the board, particularly for security, cleaning, project management and research services.

“Between 9 December 2021 and 28 November 2022, the Gozo Ministry issued 37 direct orders towards a security services company, for a total value of €209,082 (VAT excluded),” the NAO found.

“Several agreements, each covering a period of a few weeks, were separately signed to cater for different locations within the ministry’s remit,” the report highlighted.

Fifteen consecutive direct order agreements, each mainly covering nine weeks, were entered into with an individual to provide project management services between January 2020 and the end of 2022.

Research was also being procured through the abusive system.

“Between June 2020 and January 2023, the ministry paid a total of €68,000 for statistical and consultancy services related to different assignments. These were procured through two-monthly contracts awarded by several direct orders to the same service providers.”

The NAO also found various other cases of abuse, all directly pointing towards the office of the permanent secretary, including the approval of variations (extra payments) over and above contracts and predetermined modifications to contracts.

“Before signing a contract for the provision of security services at the Gozo College Secondary School car park on 11 December 2020, an approval by the permanent secretary was already issued on 7 December 2020 for a modification of the contract amounting to €10,297, or 50% of the contract value.”

Despite the number of times the permanent secretary was found to be acting against his mission, no action has been taken by the prime Minister responsible for his nomination.


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2 months ago

If the Prime Minister doesn’t take action against the corrupt bastards, then I guess we’ll have to, won’t we?
He calls himself Prime Minister and in reality he is covering up and promoting corruption and the black economy. What a disgusting human being.
His place should be in prison and not equipped with a desk.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
2 months ago

This Perm Sec is part of the Mafia gang and there is no other way to say it. Unfortunately, the long standing civil service in Malta which was ones well renowned for its sense of correctness and good governance has been now reduced to an extension of the executive without distinction and true demarcation of responsibilities, by those who are there to accomodate this Mafia gang in power.

2 months ago

“Despite the number of times the permanent secretary was found to be acting against his mission, no action has been taken by the prime Minister responsible for his nomination.“

This last paragraph sums it all up. With Labour in Government, these senior public officers have their mind at rest that they will be protected no matter what. A serious shakeup in senior public officers is desperately needed, however most of them were planted there by this corrupt Government precisely to head and cover these irregularities!

Nothing will happen, let’s wait and see. We’re unfortunately used to these situations by now!

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