Op­po­si­tion walks out of Par­lia­ment as min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi takes the floor

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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?

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