Cost of Acting President’s ‘mystery shopping’ tender increases by … – The Shift News
Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti
There is no end to the fortune of academic Frank Bezzina, who steps in to replace President George Vella at San Anton Palace whenever President George Vella is abroad, which tends to happen at inconvenient times.
Bezzina, a Pro-Rector at the University of Malta, was appointed Acting President by Prime Minister Robert Abela in an unprecedented move widely seen as easing the passage of the controversial amendments to the IVF law.
Bezzina, and his partner Vincent Marmara, the Labour Party’s pollster, were paid an additional €152,000 on top of the value of the tender they had won by placing a cheaper bid.
In 2019, the pair were tasked with conducting “mystery shopping for the public administration” through a commercial business they own together, called Power Knowledge. Both hold various other government appointments.
While Bezzina and Marmara beat the competition for this tender by submitting the lowest bid at €453,000, things immediately changed after the adjudication process closed.
As soon as the assignment started, Power Knowledge was commissioned more work, increasing the initial value of the tender.
In the end, the Acting President and Labour’s chief pollster received €605,000 for the job – an increase of more than 33%.
While variations in costs are ‘normal’ with tenders, these are normally limited to under 5%.
Even sources close to the OPM could not explain “why a simple study should register such a high increase in cost.”
They also confirmed, “the finance ministry asked no questions and just approved the variation”.
Frank Bezzina was catapulted to the post of Acting President by Prime Minister Robert Abela instead of former minister Dolores Cristina who had served in the post for a number of years.
His appointment had caused quite a stir. He is an unknown in the field of public administration or politics. Still, there was no doubt about his purpose – the first thing Bezzina did when he arrived at the Presidential Palace was to sign the file left behind by President George Vella on the controversial amendments to the IVF law.
Apart from his business ventures with Marmara, lecturing at University and stepping in for President Vella, the government also appointed Bezzina as Chairman of Wasteserv and a member of the board of governors of the Central Bank.