Employers’ group asks Prime Minister to intervene with film commission

The Malta Employers’ Association asks Robert Abela to ensure that the Malta Film Commission creates a level playing field for service providers as it reacts to accusations of favouritism levelled at Film Commissioner Johann Grech

Film Commissioner Johann Grech (left) is facing calls for his resignation after Maltese service providers accused him of favouritsim
Film Commissioner Johann Grech (left) is facing calls for his resignation after Maltese service providers accused him of favouritsim

Employers have slammed the Malta Film Commission over claims that it was pushing selective list of Maltese service providers in its dealings with foreign film producers.

The Malta Employers Association has asked Prime Minister Robert Abela to intervene and ensure a level playing field among competitors is restored.

“The decision by the Malta Film Commission to establish a selective list of film production companies which excludes many eligible local producers with years of experience in the sector from participating is scandalous and should be reversed with immediate effect,” the MEA said on Thursday.

The controversy surrounds a shortlist that companies in the sector say was distributed to foreign film producers and which excluded several established service providers.

On Wednesday, the Malta Producers Association has accused Film Commissioner Johann Grech of favouritism and asked for his resignation or removal.

Wading into the controversy, the MEA said the decision to shortlist was even more “inexcusable” given that foreign production companies will only be eligible for tax incentives if they choose their suppliers from the official MFC list.

“The privileged few will have a substantial unfair competitive advantage over the ones which have been left out. In effect, the list is a barrier to entry to many eligible companies. This is clearly immoral and contributes to the deteriorating reputation of the entire business environment in Malta in international circles,” the MEA said.

It called on the Prime Minister to rectify the situation and ensure that all Maltese producers have an equal chance of winning business.

The MEA’s statement follows a request made by the producers’ association to meet Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli on the matter.

In its letter, the association reiterated that “any shred of trust in Film Commissioner Johann Grech, has been completely obliterated”.

“When the online crew and company directory was removed a few years ago, it gave rise to the suspicion that this was done in order to exert control over the private sector. With Johann Grech at the helm, this is no longer just a suspicion and there is now clear evidence that under his tenure, the film commission has been channelling work to a select few,” the association said.

Grech has denied interfering with the choices of foreign production companies, insisting the accusations were untrue.

In a statement yesterday, he said the Malta Film Commission had created a new platform in line with GDPR rules that allowed foreign production companies to have access to hundreds of Maltese companies and individuals.

Grech insisted the new system eliminated the monopoly of the few.

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