Johann Grech presents no invoices for €4 million spent on film festival

Not a single contractor paid with public funds was listed in the report presented to parliament.

 

Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti

Malta’s Film Commissioner Johann Grech spent €4 million on a five-day film festival last July, a government-commissioned study tabled in parliament revealed, but not a single invoice was included in the report leading to issues of transparency when it comes to the spending of public money.

Justifying the expenditure, mostly on entertainment and hospitality, audit firm RSM, founded by the Labour Party’s auditor Deo Scerri, claimed the festival brought some €7 million into the economy and created jobs but did not give any specifics.

For many months, the opposition, the local film industry and journalists have been asking for information on the amount spent, including through parliamentary questions and Freedom of Information requests, all of which remain unanswered.

Finally, as a response, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo tabled the RSM ‘Impact Assessment’ in parliament moments before the debate on the damning Jean Paul Sofia inquiry report was scheduled to start.

In the RSM study, not a single invoice was included for the many direct orders. Instead, it relied on information and data provided by Grech himself.

Reaching a total expenditure of €4 million for the five days of the festival, the film commissioner spent €2.5 million on ‘arts and entertainment activities’, €372,000 on flights, €326,000 on hotel accommodation for his guests, €140,000 on food, and €110,000 on taxis. At the same time, Grech spent almost €400,000 on undefined ‘advertising and market’ research.

No details of payments made were included in the RSM study.

In the 92-page study, not a single contractor paid with public funds was listed, and no details were given on how these contracts were distributed and what procurement method was used.

The report then concludes that there was an “assumption” that the festival generated €7 million in economic activity and “created” the equivalent of some 50 full-time jobs. No data, evidence, or further information was provided to verify or support the claims.

Also, the study did not look at any issues related to good governance, including which budget was used to finance the event and how much it exceeded its initial budget.

The few concrete details included in the RSM study show that Grech invited and paid all the costs of flights, five-star accommodation, and transport for 249 “international speakers, performers, and crew members” and another 22 ‘judges’ who were also given money for their food and drink during their visit to Malta.

Some guests were also taken to Manoel Island for a grand entrance on chartered luxury yachts, with thousands of euro per day in rent and fuel paid to the owners of the Marina De Valletta in Pieta.

Among the 900 “local film professionals” invited to the event were Grech and Bartolo’s family members, employees and producers from Labour’s One TV, members of the Labour Party Executive and other close associates.

Grech, who was awarded a €90,000 salary increase after this festival, has already announced another edition of the Mediterrane Film Festival this June, this time spread over nine days.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has even approved this year’s event, although there was no fund allocation in the 2024 budget.

According to estimates presented by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, the Malta Film Commission has been given €1.8 million in recurrent expenditure for 2024 and €38 million in capital expenditure. This is broken down as €35 million to be spent on film rebates and another €3 million to upgrade the film facilities in Kalkara.

It is unclear what the budget for the 2024 event will be and where the money to pay for it will be sourced.

                           

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7 Comments
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D. Borg
D. Borg
1 month ago

One should not expect anything better from Grech or Bartolo.
However I would expect Clyde Caruana as Minister of Finance to demand their resignation and investigation by the Police for such misappropriation of taxpayer funds.
If Minister Caruana is unable to do so, he should resign outright, rather than continue to let himself be dragged into this filth by those around him.

Carmel Ellul
Carmel Ellul
1 month ago

???

Last edited 1 month ago by Carmel Ellul
viv
viv
1 month ago

An out-of-control slut pimped by an out-of-his-depth hamallu.

Anne R. key
Anne R. key
1 month ago

Should these low life’s decide to spend another Euro on another useless stunt – it should mark the beginning of dissent, the only way the voice of the angry masses is heard, is if the people decended on the streets…..!

Tony
Tony
1 month ago

Having a film festival is a good thing and can do a lot for the local industry if organised well.

And this is where the problem lies – the focus of last year’s festival seems to be spend spend spend without a care. No expense was spared at all. To film buffs access to films wasn’t easy. Screenings were fully booked yet then full of empty seats. Too many of the panelists were from the US diminishing the claim that it was a Mediterranean film festival.

And what the hell were joseph and Michelle Muscat doing at that gala extravaganza. Invitees should not have been Johann Grech’s personal guest list.

Albert Mamo
Albert Mamo
1 month ago

BLATANT ROBBER!!!💯🐀🐀🐖🐖

Frank Galea
Frank Galea
1 month ago

Jiddelettaw tant bil-provi meta jigu attakkati, dan x’tip ta’ awditjar hu bla ebda invoice u ircevuti biex jissostanzjaw il-miljuni li ntefqu?!! U dan ir-rapport ghandhom il-wicc jipprezentawh fil-Parlament? Clyde Caruana, bhala Ministru tal-Finanzi, ser jaccettah dan ir-rapport? Jekk iva, povru l-poplu li spicca jara l-fondi pubblici jitberbqu bla kontroll!!

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