The Malta Independent 6 June 2023, Tuesday
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Tourism Minister confirms TMI report on risk of ITS losing EU funds, says it is not too late

Neil Camilleri Tuesday, 2 June 2015, 18:29 Last update: about 9 years ago

Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis this evening confirmed a report published in The Malta Independent last week which revealed that the Ministry for Tourism risks losing thousands of euros in EU funds that were allocated for a training programme aimed at improving the skills of uncertified tourism workers in Gozo.

The funds risk being lost as the ITS has lagged far behind in the processing of documentation for the ministry to apply for disbursements. The ‘Skills Upgrading for the Tourism Sector in Gozo’ programme was launched in 2012. Almost €140,000 were allocated for it from the European Social Fund.

The project was set up to certify participants employed in the tourism sector. It was undertaken by the Gozo Ministry, and eventually by the Ministry of Tourism following change in government, in collaboration with the Institute of Tourism Studies, which provided the training.

The ITS was to cover the funds necessary for its staff members to deliver the training and accreditation process. The ministry had an agreement with the Planning and Priorities Co-Ordination Division (PPCD) to apply for a refund, with the funds being disbursed by the ESF, and in turn paid to the ITS. The disbursement period for the funds allocated for the project ends at the end of 2015, and the sources said that the ITS has now gone in panic mode because the process to apply for the refund is lagging far behind, with the institute risking losing the funds.

Replying to a Parliamentary Question by PN MP Jason Azzopardi, Dr Zammit Lewis said he read the story and had verified it. “We are doing all we can to avoid losing these EU funds,” he said. The Tourism Minister said internal discussions are underway so that these funds, which were applied for successfully, are not lost. “We are still in time to save these funds.”

Dr Zammit Lewis said keeping hold of EU funds is aways a challenge, and this particular case is no different. “We are facing a challenge in this particular case and we are doing all we can so that the project continues and the funds are not lost.”


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