Updated: Government denies Corinthia state-aid allegations

The actual proposed development for the Corinthia hotel. Credit: Corinthia Group

The government has denied statements made in a Times of Malta story published today about the reopening of talks between the government and Corinthia Group.

The story purported that after the Government wished to renegotiate the terms of their agreement with Corinthia Group following legal warnings  that they could be breaching EU state aid rules. This agreement refers to the proposed projects on the St George’s Bay peninsula.

The government calls the statements an ‘outright fabrication’ and that the, ‘government has no reason to change its opinion that the transaction fully complies with the precepts of state aid.’

They instead state that the government was, ‘considering certain submissions made by various stakeholders to understand their concerns on the project.’ ‘State aid considerations are completely unrelated to these discussions.’, they added.

The discussions with the Corinthia are understood to be ‘positive’.

The Times of Malta had reported that the current deal was very discriminatory towards estate developers and the government had been warned about this.

Added to this is the reporting from sources that the Corinthia Group could be paying €17m for the concession, a lot less than the €700m, the land’s current market value.

This vastly discounted rate would impact heavily on other developers.

In addition, the government had also been told that the temporary emphyteusis agreement it was intending sign with the Corinthia Group would open up the process to public calls for tenders.  This was because it would proposed on public land and signalled a complete change of land use.

Public needs to know more about Corinthia development – Graffitti

The ‘public has a right to know’ what the Corinthia development deal will consist of, Moviment Graffitti has said.

The NGO states that an email has been sent to Honourable Alexander Muscat, Chairman of the Environment and Development Planning Committee, calling for an  ‘urgent meeting’ to ascertain details about the development and clearances for the Corinthia Group.

Those emailing the Chairman are understood to be from local NGOs, local councils and resident’s groups.

Moviment Graffitti explains that under the Aarhuus Convention, the Maltese government is responsible for engaging the public when development decisions are expected to have an impact on both the environment and the community.

‘Although this is not a planning application, the draft agreement with the Corinthia group refers to reclamation of the seabed and lists other factors which would effectively render the obtainment of a planning permission a fait accompli.’