Nearly €4.8m paid out from Good Causes Fund since 2015

The Good Causes Fund has committed to providing €4.78 million in funding for various causes since the beginning of 2015, though the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have brought about a slowdown of activity.

A detailed list of all the initiatives which received funding was provided by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna in reply to a parliamentary question by Claudio Grech.

The fund was set up in 2001, with the aim of helping out individuals, agencies or organisations involved in social, educational, sport, philanthropic or religious activities. It generates its income through a percentage of tax revenues from gambling activities as well as from unclaimed prizes.

Back in 2013, shortly after taking office, Scicluna had asked the Auditor-General to look into possible mismanagement of the fund ahead of the 2013 election, with the investigation determining that the fund had been overcommitted. The fund had committed to provide some €1.7 million in 2012, a figure far higher than any registered in the past five years.

An upward trend could nevertheless be seen, with the fund providing €449,778 in 2015 and €636,439 a year later.

Its allocation almost doubled to €1.12 million in 2017 – another election year – and increased further to €1.22 million in 2018. The allocation reached a maximum of €1.02 million last year, with the amount committed for the reconstruction of the historic St Publius arch in Floriana yet to be confirmed, though set to vary between €20,000 and €50,000.

2020 allocations almost all linked to Covid-19

But the amount allocated so far in 2020 is just over €340,000, suggesting that the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to a drop in funding.

€288,000 is explicitly linked to the pandemic, including €50,000 to supplement an emergency fund set up by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector and €40,000 allocated to the Malta Community Chest Fund. Additionally, 90 band clubs received €2,200 apiece.

To date, only two initiatives unrelated to the pandemic benefited from the Good Causes Fund this year, with Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna received €50,000 to continue restoration works at the Lascaris War Rooms. The Augustinian Community in Malta, meanwhile, received just over €2,000 to help repatriate the body of one of its more illustrious members: Cardinal Prospero Grech, who died in Rome on 30 December at the age of 94.

Charitable initiatives regularly funded

The two largest single allocations since 2015 – each worth €90,000 – went to the MCCF in 2018 and 2019, for the same purpose: to fund three of the main fundraisers it holds during the year. The funding includes €60,000 which serve to organise L-Istrina, while the Fun Run and Rockestra are assigned €15,000 apiece.

24 other initiatives received €50,000, including the Franciscan Friars’ project to open a soup kitchen catering for the poor in Valletta.

The Good Causes Fund has also made an annual contribution to Oħloq Tbissima campaign in aid of the communities helped by the Missionary Society of St Paul, whose 2020 edition is being held very weekend. The Good Causes Fund has contributed €57,500 between 2015 to 2019 to the campaign, which is now in its 18th consecutive year.

The St Jeanne Antide Foundation, run by the Sisters of Charity to support poor and vulnerable families, was allocated €15,000 on three occasions. This funding helped it acquire a second-hand car, acquire furniture and to ensure the safety of wooden beams ahead of renovation works of its SOAR premises, which serve to help women who are victims of domestic violence.