Opposition walks out of Parliament as minister Konrad Mizzi takes the floor
The Opposition walked out of Parliament yesterday as Ministerwithout-portfolio Konrad Mizzi took the floor to speak in the debate on the financial estimates of the Office of the Prime Minister, which include the energy portfolio.
PN Whip David Agius said the Opposition was walking out because it did not recognise him (Mizzi) as minister over his pending cases. This is not the first time that the Opposition has walked out of the chamber during Konrad Mizzi’s speeches.
A shouting match broke out but veteran PL MP Joe Debono Grech’s voice thundered over the din: “Did you copy this from someone else?”
Konrad Mizzi said the Opposition did not have the stomach to stay and listen to the truth. “The Opposition does this every time I speak to grab the headlines. But these tricks do not work any more so we will continue speaking about our achievements in the sector.”
Taking the floor after a fiery speech by PN MP Ryan Callus, Dr MIzzi said his would not be a political speech. “I will be speaking about facts because this I what people want to hear.” He said 2017 would be a very important year when Malta will have energy from gas and will start working on the pipeline. There will be water-related projects and private public partnerships.
Dr Mizzi said Enemalta will retain the right to buy electricity from the cheapest source and the Opposition is lying about this. On the other hand Electrogas is bound to supply us with energy for 18 years.
On the pipeline Mr Mizzi said previous administrations had been offered a link from Libya “but the oil lobby, corruption, was much stronger then.” This administration was working on a solution and was working to find an exact route between Malta and Gela in Sicily. Once that was ready the planning applications would be submitted.
The Delimara project is safe, even in storms, he said, adding that the government had brought in the best company in the business to construct a special mooring system. “We studied everything in detail, including the wind and waves. We also have an emergency plan in place. The only parts not published are the sensitive parts. You do not tell robbers how best to break into your home.”
cide what kind of government they want to lead Malta. I am confident the electorate will choose in the interest of all Malta and Gozo.”
Independent MP and Partit Demoktratiku leader Marlene Farrugia, in her address, responded to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s question he asked in Parliament on Tuesday night: do you like the direction this government is taking Malta in?
“Do you all have faith in justice and the rule of law? Do you all have faith that the police force will bring you justice? Do you really believe that health care is free in Malta? I know a woman who waited four years for an operation, someone else had to go do one privately. She has passed away now,” said Dr Farrugia.
She spoke of how the so-called cancer factory sold to Shanghai Electrics, - the BWSC factory - , is still being used by the Chinese company as it was, with Heavy Fuel Oil. She therefore questioned the sincerity of the Labour Party’s claims that the power station is unhealthy.
Dr Farrugia criticised the government harshly for failing to publish the sale of Enemalta contracts.
“Why does Enemalta have the resources to build an offshore windfarm in Montenegro, but did not have the resources to increase capabilities to switch to gas?”
On the health sector, Dr Farrugia also spoke of the blanked out pages on the Vitals-government contracts tabled in parliament some days ago.
“You could call the PN hypocrites, because they blanked out pages from the BWSC power station contracts, but you can’t say that to me,” she exclaimed.
Referring again to Dr Muscat’s question in Parliament last Tuesday, she said: “Do you have your minds at rest that this government will act transparently, justly, in the interest of the people? The answer is a clear no.”
Dr Farrugia slammed the government for acting swiftly with projects such as the Paceville master plan, the towers in Mriehel and the towers in Sliema, but conveniently dragging its feet with regard to a genuine discussion on minimum wages and the €50 million social housing project. “Prime Minister Muscat has lost credibility, he has placed the interests of a few people within Castille before the interests of people in Malta and Gozo.”
Energy Shadow Minister Marthese Portelli spoke about the Delimara gas project and questioned whether the placement of the tanker in Marsaxlokk was driven by other factors which were not in the public interest.
She said the European Parliament was insisting that before building new energy terminals governments should make use of excess energy produced in Europe. But the government did not care about this and insisted on building a multi-million project instead. This raised serious doubts on the true reasons behind the project. Just like there were doubts about the real reasons behind the Panamanian companies, and who the owner of Egrant was.
Dr Portelli said the LNG risk reports published last week – all 15,000 pages of them – had been ready in December. So why where they only published now? This was done to discourage people from going through them, Dr Portelli said. And the most important pages were missing with the excuse that they were sensitive.
Turning to the Paceville Masterplan, Dr Portelli asked what would happen to elderly residents whose houses would turn into roads or open spaces under the plan. Some people have lived there for decades. Will they be kicked out? These questions need to be answered now, not later.
She asked if the consultants who drew up the masterplan had any other interests in the Paceville area.
According to the plan some 30 Paceville businesses could be expropriated. Many of these are location-driven and cannot be easily relocated. How will they be compensated?