Supposedly, the Film Commissioner is a public executive who can’t make political remarks but following revelations and criticism, the government is funding up to €47 million in subsidies to the production company producing the Gladiator movie in Malta.
The message is not informative in any way, but simply a scathing and populist attack against his critics implying they are traitors to the nation and that they want to take away the jobs of Maltese. It is a political message worthy of a fascist or a criminal thug. Johann Grech has long been accused of blunders and reckless spending but he wants us to believe that it is all for the good of us.
What would we do without him?
He is a nobody in the international world of films and culture and his Twitter account is barely active with a very small follow count. His IMBD page shows he had zero experience in the world of films before becoming Film Commissioner. Yet, he feels confident enough to defend his actions by insulting the whole nation – “whoever doesn’t agree with me is a traitor”.
Meanwhile, the Principal Permanent Secretary, Tony Sultana visited the offices of the Film Commission for a propaganda shoot while the Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo is accusing critics of peddling conspiracy theories. The Principal Permanent Secretary is a civil servant and is not supposed to be doing politics. This kind of propaganda and behavior for the top civil servant of a government is completely abnormal. As for the Minister for Tourism, who comes from a family of rent-seeking deck-chair hiring semi-literate Labourites on Comino, can’t tell the difference between recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure but wants us to believe that Malta is investing in the film industry and that critics are peddling conspiracy theories.
Generous tax breaks in Malta have been a major economic policy since the 1960s and no one is contesting that. What is being contested is the reckless and criminal way the Labour government is spending public funds. There is no coherent economic plan at the Ministry for Tourism and its related entities, especially the Malta Tourism Authority and the Film Commission which have become hotspots for rampant corruption with these entities turning into the personal entertainment tools for Labour politicians. The most damaging result of the Ministry of Tourism’s rampant corruption and wreckage with public funds is the damage done to the local culture industries which as a result have been left without a cultural infrastructure to operate as this infrastructure has been taken over by the associates of the Ministry for Tourism. We have no free market in Malta’s culture industries as we are in a situation where major cultural events in the private sector can only happen with the support of the Malta Tourism Authority. This is a very different situation from ten years ago when venues had a demand for music and live shows, for example, a market that has now been completely taken over by MTA and their associates. As for the local film industry, it has been completely suppressed and basically is nonexistent except for some exceptions.
There are many different ways to issue public subsidies to attract foreign direct investment in many different economic sectors, but there aren’t these kinds of serious discussions within the government. Labour is using cultural entities for its political campaign and producing popular music events and popular movies with public funds is accommodating to their populist politics, both in terms of campaign strategy and for genuine corruption and rent-seeking. The choice for propping up the Malta Tourism Authority and the Film Commission with these kinds of popular projects is primarily political and opportunistic. In fact, I have no doubt that with his video, Johann Grech is also preparing his ground for a future political career with the Labour Party.
This is, after all, the exact way and manner a criminal organisation in government would think of culture, just like when you hire Frank Sinatra to sing at your casino for more than dozens of years consecutively, year after year. They think and act like criminals every step of the way.