Electrogas: “Why is the Govt. afraid of a public inquiry?” – Bernard Grech

Opposition leader partit nazzjonalista leader bernard grech on budget day
Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Leader of the Opposition Bernard Grech asked why is the Government afraid of a public inquiry into Electrogas if there are no irregularities.

The PN is calling for an Inquiry Board to be appointed to look into the Electrogas deal. This is to examine all processes in relation to the Electrogas project, to identify any abuses within these processes, to identify all persons involved and to provide recommendations.

Grech was speaking during a debate on a motion on this project, a project that has been tainted with allegations of corruption. He stated that the Government doesn’t want the truth to emerge.

The deal outlined that Enemalta p.l.c is bound to purchase €131,600,000 worth of LNG gas yearly from Electrogas Malta Limited. On its end, Electrogas purchases the gas from SOCAR (State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic), who in turn purchases the gas from the manufacturer. This is all while Malta could have purchased the gas directly from the manufacturer.

Ex-Minister Konrad Mizzi and ex-Chief of Staff Keith Schembri were allegedly to receive kickbacks from the project, funnelled into their secret Panama companies by 17 Black, owned by Yorgen Fenech. Yorgen Fenech is accused of being involved in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

“It’s apparent that the Government will refuse a public inquiry into Electrogas” – Callus

Nationalist party (PN) Member of Parliament (MP) Ryan Callus stated that it’s apparent that the Government will refuse a public inquiry into Electrogas.

Callus was speaking during a debate on a motion on this project, a project that has been tainted with allegations of corruption. He stated that the energy purchased from Electrogas comes at a price much higher than that for energy available via the interconnector.

He went on to say that a purchase model for Malta should involve purchasing energy from the interconnector, than from solar panels, then from the BWSC Delimara power plant, and finally as a last resort, from Electrogas. Callus stated that such a purchasing model would mean 91 million in savings. Meanwhile, Enemalta bound itself to purchase 85% of the generated energy and of the gas from Electrogas, irrespective of the actual daily demand for electricity.

Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina, who moved  the motion, referred to the Prime Minister Robert Abela’s comments that the institutions are working. He criticised this comment, saying that if the institutions were really working, a report by the Attorney General (AG) outlining the Government’s misconduct wouldn’t have been tabled for two years. Aquilina also said that the institutions are working in Abela’s favour. He called for a public inquiry to be streamed live on television for everyone to watch.

The Government responds

On his end, Parliamentary Secretary Clayton Bartolo tabled an amendment to the motion. This removed all references to a public inquiry, and called on Bernard Grech, the PN leader, to submit a formal request for a magisterial inquiry.

Minister Michael Farrugia stated that the report submitted by the AG stated that the deal was just and transparent and that the power station is necessary to secure power supply demands. He outlined that there were no conflicts of interest within the boards, and that the documents calling for proposals were well-structured.

He went on to say that if there were any shortcomings, these did not affect the final result, because it was ultimately an advantageous project for Enemalta. Electrogas was a consortium that submitted the lowest offer, and therefore had to be chosen.

Furthermore, Farrugia said, the European Commission has also scrutinised the project, and concluded that everything was lawful, and that the price justifies the investment made by the consortium.

 The motion will be put to a vote in another sitting.