Busuttil once again pledges to ignore Electrogas contract if elected
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil yesterday renewed his pledge to “ignore” the government’s power purchase agreement with Electrogas if elected to power, describing the contract as daylight robbery.
His comments come in the wake of an article published yesterday in The Malta Independent on Sunday which reported how the Electrogas rate €0.096 per Kwh compares with the interconnector rate €0.03c - €0.06c per Kwh.
The study shows that if the new Delimara power station had been commissioned in 2015 as per the Labour Party’s electoral pledge, it would have cost the country an extra €138 million over the last two years.
In actual fact, the study finds it was the use of the interconnector, which was commissioned in March 2015, which had been responsible for keeping the prices of electricity down over the last two years.
Speaking yesterday morning at the Nationalist Party’s Santa Venera Fleur-de Lys club, Dr Busuttil said that it was thanks to the electricity interconnector project that the per unit price of electricity has been kept low and that once the Electrogas plant comes on line prices will shoot up to close to 10c per unit.
The arrangement, Dr Busuttil said, makes no sense at all when it has been proven that the interconnector is able to supply threefourths of the country’s energy needs at far lower prices than those contracted with Electrogas, which he described as a “monument of corruption”.
Given the losses of €138 million that would have been accrued had the power station been commissioned on time back in 2015, Dr Busuttil asked imagine the costs next year, the year after and for 18 years.
He questioned why the government had locked itself into Electrogas unit prices when the interconnector prices were close to twice as high.
This, he said, was a case of “daylight robbery” that demonstrated that Minister Konrad Mizzi was either incompetent or corrupt.
Dr Busuttil said, “It wasn't for nothing that Konrad Mizzi, the minister who negotiated the contract, opened a company in Panama. It is not for nothing that we suspect that there is something dirty in this whole business.
“I have pledged that a future Nationalist government will purchase electricity from the cheapest source, and we will not honour this government's corrupt contract with Electrogas that will cost us €100 million a year more than purchasing energy from the interconnector. It is a corrupt contract and we will ignore it.”
On Budget Day, Dr Busuttil recalled, as the Finance Minister was reading out his Budget Speech, many people switched their television channels to Rai 3's programme Report, which researched a number of countries, Malta included. Malta was described by the programme as a Banana Republic.
“This,” he said, “hurts me. But what hurts me more is that the government has let Malta become a Banana Republic. The fact that the international media is continually damaging Malta's reputation because of the government's actions hurts us all.”
LNG tanker public consultation a sham
Turning to the LNG tanker risk assessments published this week and the associated public consultation process, Dr Busuttil questioned whether the government even knows what it is doing.
Following two year of pressure leveraged by the Opposition, the press and the public, the risk assessment reports were at last published this week.
This was, however a case of too little, too late, Dr Busuttil said.
“First they build the entire power station, then they bring in the massive LNG tanker and only after that do they launch a public consultation exercise to seek permission.
“This consultation process is a sham. Do you know what you are doing or not?” Dr Busuttil questioned of the government.
On his request for an extension of the public consultation process, Dr Busuttil lambasted the Environment and Resources Authority for having extended the period for a mere 10-days, from 30 days to 40 days.
“After waiting two years for those reports, the public and everyone else has been given just 30 days to read, study and analyse 15,000 pages of technical documentation. Neither is 40 days is not enough for a real public consultation on a project of this magnitude.”
Dr Busuttil appealed once again for a further extension to the deadline. The ERA chairman, Victor Axiak he said, was a man of integrity and he appealed for him to not let this happen under his watch.
“Let's make it a serious and credible one exercise. If Joseph Muscat will not defend the people of Marsaxlokk and Birzebbuga, we will. They will have us fighting for them.”
Biggest budget shock was the electric shock
Turning to this week’s budget, Dr Busuttil said that the biggest shock from the budget was an “electrical shock”.
He recalled how the public at large and the majority of the social partners had been anticipating energy rates and petrol and diesel cuts that, however, did not materialise.
The Opposition, he said, will give its alternative vision for the country and its budget tonight in Parliament.
He described this week’s budget as a pretend social budget that gave a false illusion of addressing poverty by which in reality did not do so.
The irony, Dr Busuttil said, was that “the dirtiest government in the country’s history put a tax on soap”.
He advised the government to apply some soap to itself. He said that whole categories of people had been ignored by the budget, not least of which were the middle class.
The people, he said, will reach their own conclusions and when they do, they will vote to “throw this government out of office whenever the next election may come.
“There is another way, another party and another way of doing politics - a clean and honest way. There are politicians that you can actually trust and who are ready to earn your trust and work not for their interests, but, rather, for the people’s interest.”
Busuttil increasingly negative and bitter - Labour
The more time that passes, the more the Opposition Leader shows his negativity and bitterness over a budget that divides benefits for all, the PL said in a statement.
“This negativity results in inconsistency. He says that it was a cosmetic budget, then he says the budget was done in a way to obtain votes. First they say that energy tariffs can’t reduce, then say they reduced due to the PN, and now say they should decrease even more”.
The PL said that Dr Busuttil is also negative on the €200 million investment in the health sector.
In another statement, the Office of the Prime Minister said that if the Opposition Leader believes the energy reduction could have occurred solely due to the interconnector, then Dr Busuttil wouldn’t have said that the reduction is impossible prior to the election.
The statement mentioned the reduction in energy tariffs, adding that the energy mix proposed will see a mix of gas, the interconnector and renewable energy.