La Valletta - Gozo Channel dished out €4.3 million worth of direct orders between 2016 and the beginning of 2018, statistics in parliament show. The direct orders were mainly for maintenance and repairs on the Gozo ferries, as well as the subcontracting of workers. Executive Security Services, owned by Stephen Ciangura, was given €390,000 worth of direct orders for “seamen services” in 2017, including separate contracts worth €130,000, €108,000 and €100,000. Mr Ciangura serves as the chauffeur of MCST chairman Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando. Public procurement regulations state that any project worth more than €120,000 should be granted by tender through the Contracts Department. Last year, Times of Malta reported how at least six of the 10 members sitting on Gozo Channel’s new board of directors were Labour Party activists. Appointed by Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana, the board is again chaired by Joe Cordina, Labour’s Xagħra mayor and a candidate at the last general election. Sitting with him are two former Labour MPs, a Labour local councillor, a member of the party’s executive committee and a Labour electoral candidate. Questions sent to Mr Cordina about the amount of direct orders were not answered by the time of writing. Successive reports by the Auditor General had repeatedly stated that direct orders should be kept to a “barest minimum”, as they circumnavigated normal tendering rules.
Trust Business Solutions JV were given over half a million euros in various direct orders for the provision of personnel, including cleaners, cafeteria attendants and mooring men. None of these direct orders exceeded the €120,000 threshold. Ship repair company Palumbo received €966,783 in direct orders. This figure included a €575,000 contract to refit the “Ta’ Pinu” ferry last year, and another €281,000 contract to re-fit the MV “Gaudos”. ABB Spa was given a €205,669 contract for spare parts and Manoel Island Yacht Yard a €288,000 contract. Apart from some other smaller contracts, Signal 8 Security Services were handed one contract of €260,000 for mooring men services, and another for €241,000. A number of parliamentary questions have been asked this week about the direct orders given by different ministries. The Economy Ministry spent over €1.3 million in direct orders between December 2016 and November 2017. Two direct orders worth just under €5 million were given by the parliamentary secretary for sport for the building of a shooting range.
(Source: Malta Times)