Despite giving all details to the media, and giving full disclosure and details about the project, the newspaper persisted on reporting wrong facts.
The Marigold Foundation wants to set the record straight and is answering all allegations being levelled at the project for the sake of correctness and full transparency.
ALLEGATION: Inmates are owed over €16,000 for work they have carried out since last June
FACT: Since the start of the project, inmates were paid over €14,700 with the last payment effected on 23rd February 2016. Detailed documentation of all work carried out by each inmate is kept. Other payments due in respect of work that has been carried out or is still ongoing will be paid as per normal procedures.
ALLEGATION: Work is valued at well under normal market prices
FACT: Work carried out by inmates is valued at market prices and this is totally transparent to the participants as the price list of each task is available in the workshop. Participants fill in their respective worksheet detailing the type and amount of work done. During the visit to the workshop the price list was made available to the journalists. Other media present during the visit in fact reported this price list. From the amounts charged to clients, which are again based on market prices, one has to deduct amounts earmarked for National Insurance, Victim Support, expenses for sewing accessories and admin costs as well as future projects.
ALLEGATION: Measurement is taken by the width of the material rather than the length.
FACT: It was pointed out to the journalists that common practice is to measure curtains by the width sewn rather than by length of the material. This is logical since the length of material is generally standard and it would result in mismeasuring a job if length is applied instead of the width of the curtain produced.
ALLEGATION: Two inmates have since been released and not yet received a cent of the money owed.
FACT: Two inmates, released in October and December, have been paid in full for all the work they carried out. Payment is also due to another inmate who left at the end of February during the period when work was interrupted due to the H1N1 virus. Payments could not be processed during this period as the project coordinator, Mary Grace Pisani, was prohibited by her doctors from visiting CCF. This was stated during the press briefing.
ALLEGATION: The Marigold Foundation received 10% of the proceeds from the sale of curtains
FACT: To date, the only money received by The Marigold Foundation is a sum of €500 which the inmates themselves collected and donated to the Foundation. The 10% mentioned in the article is earmarked to go towards Victims Support and will be passed on to Marigold when all payments have been settled. All this was stated at the Press briefing.
ALLEGATION: “They treat us like slaves, expecting us to sew all these costumes and curtains to very tight deadlines”. “I sometimes get up at 4am to start working on the costumes and curtains and do not stop until 7pm, then they treat us like this”.
FACT: Inmates choose to attend the course and to participate in the work scheme on a voluntary basis. They themselves choose when to go to the workshop and they decide how much time they spend there. They have never been asked to start work at 4am, as alleged. Prison authorities informed us that inmates usually start work after breakfast and special permission would be needed if a prisoner wants to leave the cell earlier. During the preparations for the CHOGM, prisoners were in fact allowed to leave their cells earlier. Recently, the programme coordinator also managed to negotiate with CCF so that some inmates were given permission to go on site to help to put up the curtains. This is an important achievement since it provides the inmates with the experience of the last phase of curtain making.
ALLEGATION: Designs for Parliament Exhibition were sold directly to the public and Ms Pisani still did not pay the inmates the money.
FACT: Designs for the Parliament Exhibition were made as part of their training and as motivation for the participants. These were not sold. Curtains are in fact still hanging in the sewing rooms at Corradino Correctional Facility as could be seen by the journalists present for the press briefing.
ALLEGATION: Inmates were barred from entering the workshop yesterday and today.
FACT: The project has not been operating for the past few weeks since the co-ordinator was prohibited from going to CCF due to her medical condition.
ALLEGATION: Inmates said they were being paid €3 a metre for curtains
FACT: Inmates are paid at market prices and there is full transparency as the price sheet detailing the value for each task is available in the workshop and also given to all inmates who participate. The inmates are able to know exactly how much they will receive once the job is finished and paid for, as stated at the press briefing.
ALLEGATION: Amount paid in February was not quantified
FACT: During the Press briefing it was made clear that inmates will receive different amounts as this is based on the type of work they carry out. Detailed documentation for each participant is recorded. During February inmates were paid €1,500.
ALLEGATION: When Mrs Muscat was asked why Ms Pisani had not paid for 400 costumes for the CHOGM event, the Prime Minister’s wife said ‘ask the government’.
FACT: Mrs Muscat said that CHOGM payments had to go through normal payment channels according to all procurement regulations and any queries could be directed to them.
ALLEGATION: Both Mrs Muscat and Ms Pisani sidestepped questions whether the Love, Faith, Forgiveness project is a registered NGO as required by law.
FACT: It was clearly stated that Love, Faith, Forgiveness is not a registered NGO but is a project initiated by Ms Pisani in collaboration with CCF. The Marigold Foundation acts as patron as this project is within the objectives of the Foundation to assist those working towards achieving a better society.