Updated 5.29pm

A technical error by GO has led to charitable donations made to L-Istrina, Dar tal-Providenza, Caritas and others revised down by €1.4 million, plunging their upcoming operations into chaos.

The error caused GO to double-register donations made to fundraising telethons from GO-registered numbers between October 2020 and January 2021. The telecommunications firm has said that customers were not billed twice for their donations.

The massive shortfall in donations was discovered in February, when GO undertook a reconciliation exercise and discovered the discrepancy, but was only made public on Tuesday.

Apart from the Istrina campaign and telethons organised by Dar tal-Providenza and Caritas Malta, the Labour and Nationalist parties are also understood to be affected by the double-counting error, having organised telethons during the affected period.  

The Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation said the error led to around €948,000 in donations to L-Istrina being calculated twice over. 

In a statement, the Curia said the revised donation figure would derail the plans of Dar tal-Providenza and Caritas and affect this year's operations of the two charitable entities.

Dar tal-Providenza's funds have been hit by a €427,000 shortfall as a result of the error, with the NGO receiving €1.6 million from its Festa tal-Ġenerożita' telethon rather than the €2 million originally announced. 

The administrative secretary of the Archdiocese, Michael Pace Ross, expressed his disappointment during a meeting with GO’s Chief  Executive Officer, Nikhil Patil, and emphasised that this was not the level of service  the Archdiocese expected from GO. It took note of the apology by GO and welcomed the company's commitment for seeking ways to support both Dar tal-Providenza and Caritas.

Caritas said that as a result of the GO glitch, the funds collected at its ‘Maratona ta’ Mħabba’ on November 14 reached €424,170 and not €668,280 as it was initially advised.

The NGO expressed its disappointment in view of plans already made for the allocation of the funds, but it thanked all donors for their generosity. 

It issued an appeal for fresh donations to enable it to reach out for the vulnerable members of society. 

Dar tal-Providenza made a similar appeal, noting that people could donate online.

'System-related error': GO

In its statement, GO said the issue was a system-related one, which only impacted the reporting structure.   

“This issue was brought to light during the exhaustive reconciliation and reporting procedures we go through when these telethons are over. Our teams have already established what led to this anomaly and are implementing measures to avoid this in future events,” GO said.

“We go through rigorous testing of the system before every event, however no matter how prepared we are, we can never fully anticipate the unexpected. We have been in discussions with the organisations impacted by this incident and are looking at ways of how we can support them going forward. This incident is deeply regretted and we would like to reassure the general public that they were not billed twice for their generous contributions,” GO added. 

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