Updated 9pm; adds ministry's denial

Mark Camilleri has threatened to close the chapter on his time at the book council after what he claims is irregular government manoeuvring. 

Mr Camilleri, who heads the Malta Book Council, said that "bureaucrats" had suddenly and without warning frozen council funds and issued an order for the Education Ministry to take over the council's book-keeping. 

The decision, he said on Facebook, came "immediately after" he had disagreed with Education Minister Evarist Bartolo during a meeting over his plans to push for increased council autonomy.

“This is very odd behaviour indeed. I discussed my intention to push for the book council to have its own piece of law – an Act of Parliament - rather than a simple subsidiary legislation, and this was followed by the ministry announcing that the council’s accounting would be taken over by the ministry itself. This is not conducive to independence and autonomy,” he said.  

Mr Camilleri told Times of Malta that this was making his position untenable. 

However, a spokeswoman for the ministry said it was not true that the ministry had frozen any bank accounts of any entity. All requests for funding went through the usual process, it said.

The Malta Book Council has been planning to ask Maltese authors to vote on whether they preferred the council have increased autonomy, by being given its own Act, at a writers’ congress next month. 

In a harshly worded Facebook post, Mr Camilleri said there were strange happenings at the Education Ministry. 

“An hour after I had a confrontation with Education Minister Evarist Bartolo on his disagreement with my proposal for the council to have increased autonomy… his bureaucrats froze the council’s assets and issued an order for its accounting procedures to be absorbed by the ministry,” he wrote.  

This, he added, was a “flagrant breach” of the council’s autonomy, and in violation of an agreement that had been reached between the council and the ministry.

Mr Camilleri accused the “bureaucrats” of trying to make people’s lives a misery.  
Times of Malta has reached out to the Education Ministry for a reaction. 

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