The financing of Fawlty Towers

Townsquare.Fawlty Tower

The saga of the Mrieħel and the Townsquare towers is now entering a new phase, with the planning appeal stopwatch due to start ticking shortly –  most probably towards the end of the month. It is known that, so far, Sliema Local Council and a number of environmental NGOs will be appealing against the 4 August decision of the Planning Authority to approve the “Fawlty Towers” at Mrieħel and Townsquare Sliema .

Financing of the projects is next. The banks cannot increase their already substantial exposure to loans that are dependent on building speculation. Consequently, the developers will inevitably have to seek the involvement of private citizens and, possibly, institutional investors. Most probably, the process for financing the projects has already commenced; it will involve the issuing of bonds to the public and will normally be sponsored by a bank and a stock-broking agency.

The bank or banks and stockbrokers sponsoring the bond issue will have to ensure that the bonds are subject to an “appropriateness and suitability testing” subject to such direction as the Malta Financial Services Authority  may consider necessary and suitable. Also, in the light of past local unpleasant experiences, the Authority will undoubtedly be guided by the need to ensure  that prospective investors fully understand the inherent risks of the proposed investments.  It will also ensure that detailed information is published in the form of a suitable prospectus in which the small print is both legible and understandable.

Those who finance the high-rise projects should shoulder responsibility for their impact together with the Planning Authority and the developers. They will potentially make it happen, so they should carry the can. It is important to get this message through: those who will invest in the Gasan and Tumas bonds intended to finance the “Fawlty  Towers”  should receive more than a monetary return on their investment. The moment they sign up they will also assume co-responsibility – with the developers, the Planning Authority, the bank or banks and the sponsoring stockbrokers – for this projected development .

Word is going around on the need to boycott the services and products placed on the market by the Gasan and Tumas Groups. Journalist Jürgen Balzan, writing in Malta Today described these services and products as being wide-ranging (hotels, car-dealerships, gaming, finance and property) which easily impact on the daily life of a substantial number of Maltese citizens. However, such a boycott’s only link with  the “Fawlty  Towers”  would be through the owners.  It would be preferable for a boycott to have a direct link with the offensive action.  In this context, the forthcoming bond issue to finance the “Fawlty  Towers”  presents itself as a suitable opportunity.

A boycott is a non-violent instrument of protest that is perfectly legitimate in a democratic society. The boycotting of the forthcoming bond issue would send a clear message that people will not be complicit in further ruining the  urban fabric of Sliema and ensure that development at Imrieħel is such that the historic landscape is fully respected.

A social impact assessment, if properly carried out, would have revealed the apprehensions of the residents in particular the residents on the Tignè peninsula. But, unfortunately, as stated by Sliema Green Local Councillor Michael Briguglio, the existing policy-making process tends to consider such studies as an irritant rather than as a tool for holistic management and community participation.

We have had some recent converts on the desirability of social impact assessments, such as Professor Alex Torpiano, Dean of the Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta. Prof. Torpiano, in an opinion piece published by the Malta Independent this week, stressed that spatial planning in Malta needs a social-economic dimension. Unfortunately, I do not recollect the professor himself practising these beliefs as the leading architect in the MIDI and Cambridge projects on the Tignè peninsula,  a stone’s throw from Townsquare!

Investing in this bond issue is not another private decision: it will have an enormous impact on the community.

Responsibility for this ever-increasing environmental mess has to be shouldered by quite a few persons in Malta. Even the banks have a very basic responsibility – and not one to be shouldered just by the Directors: the shareholders should also take an interest before decisions are taken and not post-factum.

I understand that the Directors of APS Bank have already taken note of the recent  statements regarding the environment by  Archbishop Charles Scicluna. As such, it stands to reason that APS will (I hope) not be in any way associated with the financing process for the “Fawlty  Towers”.  However, there is no news as yet from the other banks, primarily from the major ones – ie Bank of Valletta and HSBC.

This is a defining moment in environmental action in Malta. It is time for those that matter to stand up to be counted – and the sooner the better.

published by the Malta Independent on Sunday – 21 August 2016

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Gasan mhux mejjet bil-ġuħ

Delimara floating gas stirage terminal

L-anqas ta’ Tumas m’huma mejta bil-ġuħ.

Għax bla ma trid bilfors tasal għall-konklużjoni li mejtin bil-ġuħ meta tisma’ l-aħbar li s-self ta €350 miljun ghall-power station ta’ Delimara mal-BoV u tlett banek oħra ser ikun garantit mill-Gvern ta’ Malta minflok ma jiggarantuh huma u l-membri l-oħra li baqa’ tal-konsorzju s-Socar tal-Azerbajgan u s-Siemens.

Minn meta l-hawn il-Gvern jagħmel tajjeb għall-garanziji tal-kuntratturi tiegħu?

Mill-bidu nett kien jidher li hemm xi ħaġa mhux f’postha f’Delimara.

L-ewwel Joseph wiegħed li l-power station bil-gass ser tkun lesta sa sentejn mill-elezzjoni, inkella jirreżenja. Is-sentejn għaddew. Ma lesta xejn u ma rreżenjax.

Imbagħad fallew il-Gasol – li kellhom 30% sehem fil-proġett, il-partners ewlenin tal-proġett.

Issa daħal il-Gvern biex ikun garanti għas-self li hemm bżonn għall-proġett. Garanzija bhal din, normalment jagħmilha l-kuntrattur li jkun qed jieħu ħsieb il-proġett.

Hemm xi ħaġa tinten ħafna. Għax la Gasan u l-anqas ta’ Tumas m’huma mejtin bil-ġuħ. Kemm huma kif ukoll is-Socar u s-Siemens għandhom x’jagħmel tajjeb għas-self li ġie negozjat mal-BoV u l-banek l-oħra!

 

Il-Bank of Valletta, jsodd it-toqob

House of the 4 Winds

 

Bħalissa d-diskussjoni politika hi dwar min kien mistieden għall-ikel tlett snin ilu. Ikliet mistura u ikliet magħrufa. Kif ukoll dwar min iktar seta kien preżenti. Dwar min serva l-ikel u dwar min maxtar.

Mera mera fuq il-ħajt: min hu l-iktar maħmuġ għid? Il-mera ma tafx lil min ser taqbad temmen, tant ilha tisma’ affarijiet. Imn’alla li l-mera ma titkellimx għax kieku min jaf kemm toħroġ bi stejjer bejn affidavit u ieħor, bejn libell u ieħor.

Smajna b’donazzjonijiet li jidhru bħala ħlas għal reklami kif ukoll dwar dak il-loan imdaqqas mal-BoV li spiċċa ma tħallasx. Tkun storja tajba kieku tkun magħrufa bl-egħruq u x-xniexel. Għax donnu li l-BoV għandu d-destin li jsodd it-toqob finanzjarji ta’ dawk li huma komdi f’dan il-pajjiż.

Sadd it-toqob tas-self tad-Daewoo. Sadd it-toqob tal-Air Malta biex jixtru l-fuel. Sadd it-toqob tal-magħżulin għall-power station tal-gass f’Delimara. Sadd it-toqob ta’ min irid jirtira kmieni mix-xogħol, imma żamm id-dritt biex jidħol lura.

Sabuħ għal snienhom lill-BoV.