A plan to overhaul a home for people with disabilities has had to be re-assessed after technical problems at GO caused a massive shortfall in telethon donations.

Villa Papa Giovanni, one of Id-Dar tal-Providenza’s three residences, was due to undergo a €200,000 upgrade by next year.

But that timeline is being revised and the project re-evaluated after telecommunications company GO admitted donations made to a number of charity and political telethons were double registered.

Last week, GO said a “systems-related” error meant it had to revise down donations by €1.4 million.

Id-Dar tal-Providenza said it had suffered a €427,000 shortfall as a result.

“Effectively, what we had planned for Villa Papa Giovanni needs to be re-evaluated,” Fr Martin Micallef, Id-Dar tal-Providenza director, said.

“We’ve started on external works but after that we need to see what we can afford to continue.

It might mean what we planned to have finished in a year may take longer than that

“It might mean that what we planned to have finished in a year may take longer than that, perhaps it will take us two years to complete.

“We will have to see what the finances can afford to stretch to as, even due to the pandemic, donations are also impacted.”

The Siġġiewi residence comprises four apartments and houses some 50 residents.

In an interview in January, Fr Martin said that measures taken to adequately safeguard the home and its residents from COVID-19 had increased running costs by an additional €150,000.

Despite the difficulties, Id-Dar tal-Providenza had managed to complete works on a new home in Balluta and had set its sights on revamping the Villa Papa Giovanni apartments next.

GO’s fundraising telethon donations error affected other charitable NGOs, including L-Istrina and Caritas as well as the Labour and Nationalist parties.

The shortfall in donations was discovered in February, when GO undertook a reconciliation exercise and discovered the discrepancy but was only made the findings public last week.

The Archdiocese of Malta has expressed disappointment in GO, emphasising that this was not the level of service expected.

Id-Dar tal-Providenza has issued a fresh appeal for donations, with more information on how to transfer funds to the organisation available online at www.sabihlitaghti.org.

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