The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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Attack on cash rebate programme is an attack on film industry - Commissioner

Sabrina Zammit Friday, 25 August 2023, 12:30 Last update: about 11 months ago

Anyone attacking the cash rebate programme is attacking the stability of the film industry, Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech said on Friday.

In a short, published video on Facebook, full of clichéd phrases normally used by politicians, the commissioner defended the cash rebate system and spoke of efforts to bring more foreign investment in the country.

The video was ostensibly in reply to a story published by The Sunday Times of Malta in which it was reported that Maltese taxpayers will be paying €46.7 million to the film company producing the Gladiator sequel film. The rebate is part of a cash scheme that promises productions up to 40% cash back if they film in Malta. This sparked criticism on the rebate scheme and questions as to whether the film industry should be afforded such benefits.

Grech said that over the last few days, he has met with several individuals who were asking about, what he described as “insensitive” attack on the film industry.

Grech said that he is not going to let anyone hinder the jobs of those working in the industry or the opportunities brought in the country.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo had earlier in the week also defended the €46.7 million being given as a rebate, saying that the funds are not being taken from other sectors.

"When we say we will give €47 million as a cash rebate, it means that while this production is being filmed in our country, over €110 million is being spent. So giving the impression that the country is losing money is completely wrong, is misleading," he said.

Continuing on the same matter Grech said the cash rebate sum given is the amount which has already been spent by the film in question in the country.

He explained that this system has already been approved by the EU and is already in place on other countries.

Moreover, he said that the cash rebate system is already in place in other sectors such as the Igaming industry.

However, the PN reiterates that these millions could have been spent on different sectors, including to strengthen the Maltese culture sector or the improving of local talents.

On Friday the PN presented a formal request to the Auditor General to investigate the expenditure of almost €137 million from taxpayers’ that the Malta Film Commission paid to foreign companies between September 2018 and August 2023.

 

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