Rule of law NGO Repubblika, said that Prime Minister Robert Abela cannot turn a blind eye to the serious issues raised by the National Audit Office, NAO, regarding the transfer of the ITS land in Pembroke to the db group.
Repubblika is insisting that a public inquiry must be held in order to determine who took the decisions regarding the transfer of the land in St. George’s Bay and that police must investigate the suspicion of corruption in the deal.
In a statement, the NGO said that it is imperative that the land, which is of public domain, be given back to the Maltese people.
The NAO report uncovers scandalous manoeuvres – Repubblika
On Wednesday, the Auditor General, Charles Deguara, expressed his doubts on the regularity of the tender issued by Projects Malta to transfer the Institute of Tourism Studies building to the DB Group. The tender was issued five years ago.
In the report by the National Audit Office which said that Projects Malta failed to obtain the authorisation from the contracts department before the offer was issued in November 2015, to build, design and operate the project which is to be built on the site occupied by ITS in Pembroke.
The Auditor General also stated that the sense of urgency that drove Government to dispose of the ITS site was of concern given the fact that no alternative premises had been secured for the ITS. The NAO also said that the government failed to develop a masterplan for the area which was also a great concern.
The report said that “no information supporting this decision or who was involved was provided, with the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Tourism each assigning responsibility to the other.”
“We denounce as scandalous the fact that the Office of the Prime Minister and that of the Minister of Tourism are “each assigning responsibility to the other”. Joseph Muscat and Konrad Mizzi are now blaming each other.” Said Repubblika.
The NGO also said that it is scandalous that despite the huge powers at his disposal, the Auditor General himself was unable to discover who is responsible for taking the decision to hand over this land which is worth millions.
The Auditor General said in the report that certain members of the Negotiation Committee failed to provide any input and no records of negotiations were made available. This made it difficult for the NAO to understand the negotiation process.
Repubblika demands that Prime Minister Robert Abela shoulders the responsibility for this and that he cannot use COVID-19 as an excuse to put aside this matter.
“Corruption is also a serious illness which breaks the moral fibre of a country and sickens the economy,” stated Repubblika.
In the report, the NAO gave brief details on the transfer of the ITS land
- In November 2015, Projects Malta Ltd issued a request for proposals (RfP) for the design, build and operation of a mixed tourism and leisure development in St Julian’s on the site occupied by the Institute of Tourism Studies
- In February 2016, the Seabank Consortium, the sole bidder, was nominated the preferred proponent with its €17,000,000 bid
- Negotiations ended in January 2017, with Cabinet endorsing the €56,000,000 value established by Deloitte who assisted Government in this respect
- On 1 February 2017, the Commissioner of Land and the dbSG, entered into a deed for 99 years
- In July 2019, the dbSG submitted a fresh application for excavation works while the original application was still active
- The National Audit Office (NAO) was requested to review this disposal by the Public Accounts Committee in March 2017. The audit commenced in January 2019