Economy Minister Chris Cardona to move ministry to Mile End

Economy minister and PL deputy leader for party affairs Chris Cardona to move his ministry a few doors down from Labour’s Mile End headquarters

Economy minister Chris Cardona
Economy minister Chris Cardona

The Broadcasting Authority will move into a new premises in Valletta in the coming months while economy minister Chris Cardona is expected to move his ministry in the opposite direction and set up office just over 100 metres away from the Labour Party’s headquarters in Hamrun.

MaltaToday is informed that by summer the Broadcasting Authority will move into a building in Melita Street, Valletta but sources close to the authority’s board said that the new offices are inadequate as it is not big enough for the authority’s 30-strong staff.

The new offices, which are still under construction, are “too small and dark” for the authority’s employees, who could increase in number in the coming months as the authority’s remit is set to be expanded.

The Broadcasting Authority currently only supervises radio and television broadcasting services but the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS), which entered into force in 2007, is aimed at creating a wider regulatory body covering both traditional television broadcasting and new services such as digital broadcasting and online services.

Sources said this could see the Broadcasting Authority (BA) and the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) merge to form one new regulatory body regulating both telecommunications and broadcasting, making the BA’s move to Valletta short-sighted.

The Broadcasting Authority’s board and management were not involved in the decision making process and the selection of the premises, souces said.
The Broadcasting Authority’s board and management were not involved in the decision making process and the selection of the premises, souces said.

The BA did not issue a call for tenders but issued a call for expressions of interest. In reply to MaltaToday’s questions, the authority said “a proposal to move to new offices has been put forward for the Board’s consideration” adding that a call for expressions of interest was issued “and a number of bids were received for the Authority’s request to rent premises.” 

A BA spokesperson said “the move to a more central location will enhance the standing of the Authority as well as contributing to its efficient functioning.”

Sources said the authority’s board and management were not involved in the decision making process and the selection of the premises in Melita Street was taken by the authority’s chairperson, Tanya Borg Cardona, without a clear evaluation and due diligence process.

But the authority denied this, saying “the Board is still in the process of considering the details of the project and a final decision is yet to be taken.”

Sources said that the board – made up of four representatives picked by the two parties – and the management are being kept in the dark about the move and a number of people have been seen at the authority’s office discussing the move, including Borg Cardona’s former partner David Newman.

Tanya Borg Cardona
Tanya Borg Cardona

It is unclear whether the move has been sanctioned by the ministry of finance and the justice ministry, which is responsible for the BA.

The authority’s offices in Hamrun will not remain vacant for long, with economy minister Chris Cardona expected to move in the opposite direction and rent the offices a few metres away from the Labour Party’s headquarters at the Mile End in Hamrun.

The ministry is currently split in a number of offices in Valletta and Marsa and although doubts have been raised about whether the building is big enough for the ministry’s employees it is set to be housed under one roof in Hamrun.  

Not only will Cardona cut the commute to his party HQ office, but from his new office, which happens to be next door to PN deputy leader Mario de Marco’s private residence, Cardona will have the opposition’s Pieta HQ in sight.

Former CEO retained as consultant

Former BA CEO Pierre Cassar, who resigned his post in 2016 to take up a post at the University of Malta, has been retained as a consultant, MaltaToday has learnt.

Pierre Cassar
Pierre Cassar

MaltaToday understands that the former CEO is receiving more than €10,000 a year.

A BA spokesperson said “Cassar was appointed as a consultant to the Board because of his experience in the field. The decision was unanimously taken by the Board and is minuted. His conditions and terms of service are capped by privacy and will not be divulged.”

Moreover, MaltaToday is informed that Cassar bought the BA vehicle which was at his disposal during his eight-year stay at the authority.

Cassar bought the Chevrolet Cruz for a fraction of its market value but the authority refused to divulge this information.

Since Borg Cardona took over as chairperson in early 2016, the authority has acquired a new vehicle – a Toyota Avensis – but the chairperson makes use of her personal vehicle for official business despite having a Renault Megane and the new Toyota at her disposal.