Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
Gozo Ministry’s “habitual abuse” of the procurement system through the issuance of direct orders, highlighted by a National Audit Report into 2022 published in December, continued into 2023, new data published in the Government Gazette shows.
The data shows that during the first six months of 2023, the ministry, under the supervision of recently promoted Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri and his Permanent Secretary John Borg, issued 164 direct orders worth more than €2 million.
A recent NAO audit looked at how the ministry dealt with procurement in 2022, concluding there was “habitual abuse” of the rules throughout the year. The new data for 2023, analysed by The Shift, shows similar patterns to the year before.
Kerber Security Services Ltd, Signal 8 Security, Executive Security, Security First and Gold Guard continued to receive repetitive direct orders every two months to provide their services to many ministry locations such as school car parks, the back gate of the ministry, the Wild Birds Directorate, the unused Gozo Heliport and Gozo Channel.
Instead of issuing long-term competitive tenders, the ministry issues direct orders every few weeks, splitting the bill into chunks of under €10,000 each time to bypass competitive procurement procedures.
Architect Frank Muscat continued to serve the ministry in various projects, while Claude R. Mallia, a Maltese architect with a Gozitan girlfriend, has joined the list with various small road projects on the sister island.
Labour pollster Vincent Marmara joined the list of consultants at the Gozo Regional Development Authority. At the same time, Labour’s organising secretary, William Lewis, was paid almost €9,000 for work at the Xewkija experimental farm.
Media attention on Gozo was also bought through direct orders.
Enemed’s influencer, Claire Agius, obtained another government sponsorship for her Labour TV programme Local Traveller (€7,500), while another TVM programme, Lenti, was also given a €10,000 sponsorship.
The minister’s cousin, George Scicluna of CVC Media, a mainstay of Gozo Ministry sponsorships under different administrations, was awarded a new €16,000 direct order, violating the €10,000 threshold, to provide a historical documentary.
Q Media, run by Gzira FC insiders Sharlon Pace, former BOV Chair Deo Scerri and Helmut Amhof, was paid €10,000 as sponsorship for a friendly football match between the Netherlands and Austria while even the Gozo Branch of the Liverpool Supporters Club was sponsored by the ministry to the tune of €8,000.
The ministry issued five direct orders of some €7,000 each time to cover “night allowances paid to contractor’s employees” for Gozo Channel staff, an unusual step as the allowance would usually form part of the original contract.
Minster Clint Camilleri was one of the ministers Prime Minister Robert Abela promoted in his latest reshuffle, awarding him the responsibility of the sensitive Planning Authority despite a number of high-profile issues with planning applications and projects.
The NAO report for 2022 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”. They also noted approving variations over and above contracts and predetermined modifications.
“Such method of procurement, which merited a public call for tenders, was endorsed by the respective permanent secretary (John Borg),” the NAO said.
The NAO also previously found several discrepancies relating to employment and that “overtime was carried out habitually, very often with vague justifications given for its requirement” and with a total lack of control.