The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

'Inadequate action by minister jeopardising work of film industry producers' - association

Thursday, 9 April 2020, 17:16 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Malta Producers' Association has written to the Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Julia Farrugia Portelli about the repercussions being felt by its members and other producers within the film/TV industry as a result of her "inadequate action" against Film Commissioner Johann Grech.

In late February the Association said it "had asked the Minister to remove Grech following published evidence that the Commissioner, through some of his staff, was caught discriminating against local production service providers by pushing a list of only a few preferred providers to foreign producers looking at filming on the islands."

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A meeting was held between the Association and the Minister on 9 March 2020, the association said, "however Grech was not dismissed or even suspended despite the evidence of serious wrongdoing published in the media never being denied. On top of this, during the near hour and a half meeting the MPA further revealed that the corrupt practice was only the tip of the iceberg and recounted a plethora of instances of bad governance, mismanagement and overall ineptitude of the Film Commissioner. The list was substantial."

In the letter sent today to Minister Farrugia Portelli, the MPA stated that the inaction on Grech was "aggravating the situation and had led to a point where its members would have to disclose information about clients and future business to a public officer they know cannot be trusted."

The association said that "this situation was now beyond absurd."

"During the normal course of work, local production service companies necessarily need to be in touch with the Film Commissioner to discuss upcoming projects and deal with elements that the production may require, such as booking the water tanks or other film assets currently managed by the MFC and/or obtaining certification for the Incentives offered. This contact happens at very early stages of a project and is key to consolidating a project being attracted to Malta."

The Association asked the minister whether she considered this situation as business as usual. "Did she honestly expect members of the MPA to inform Grech of potential projects planning to film in Malta knowing that he has a list of preferred service providers that he had forwarded to enquiring producers who got in touch with the Film Commission?" the association asks.

The MPA reiterated that the Minister should dismiss or at least suspend Film Commissioner Johann Grech with immediate effect. "This would be normal procedure when a person has been caught abusing his/her position and committing serious wrongdoing. Why was normal due process not being followed in this case?"


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