Adrian Delia mhux mejjet bil-ġuħ

It-Times qalulna illum li l-kontijiet tat-taxxa li l-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni kellu pendenti  tħallsu mill-kunjati ta’ Adrian Delia.

Qrajna matul il-ġimgħat u x-xhur li għaddew fuq kontijiet pendenti ta’ Adrian Delia dwar credit cards, overdrafts personali mad-diversi banek u d-diffikultajiet tal-kumpanija Mġarr Developments Limited li fiha Adrian Delia għandu sehem minoritarju ta’ madwar 9%.

Xi żmien ilu kumpanija tal-awdituri kienet iċċertifikat li Adrian Delia għandu x’jagħmel tajjeb għal dak li għandu jagħti lill-banek. Tajjeb.

Imma x’sens jagħmel għall-Opposizzjoni li tkun fl-aħbarijiet mhux għal proposti politiċi innovattivi tagħha (fejnhom?) imma għall-mod kif il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni jamministra flusu?

Il-messaġġ ċar li Adrian Delia qed jagħti u ilu jagħti sa minn meta ġie elett bħala Kap tal-Opposizzjoni mhux wieħed ta’ serjetá. Smajna kull xorta ta’ stejjer dwar dan: l-ebda waħda minnhom ma tnissel fiduċja f’min jippretendi li jmexxi l-pajjiż.

Għax jekk l-amministrazzjoni ta’ flusek tnissel dubji, kif qatt tista’ titwemmen meta titkellem dwar it-tmexxija tajba?

Delia, ovvjament mhux mejjet bil-ġuħ. Imma madwaru hemm għatx kbir għas-serjetá fit-tmexxija, fil-forom kollha tagħha.

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“Tradituri” f’nofshom

Waqt li n-Nazzjonalisti huma ppreokkupati bit-“tradituri” f’nofshom, it-tmexxija tal-partit tidher li hi inkwetata li l-partit hu maqtugħ mir-realtá, kif fil-fatt hu!

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista mhux ser ikun iktar partit ta’ elitisti – dawk b’imneħirhom imxammar – iddikjara Dottor Adrian Delia. Wieħed dejjem jista’ jipprova jagħmel dan: ir-riżultati jkun jista’ jarahom kulħadd.

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista, qal Dottor Adrian Delia, għandu joffri leħen għan-nies f’kull qasam tal-ħajja. Inkluż forsi, vuċi għat-“tradituri” ukoll!

It-taqlib li għaddej minnu l-PN hu kbir. Qed ngħid taqlib, mhux tibdil. Prinċipalment passi lura. Huwa ċar li l-ftit passi żgħar ‘il-quddiem li saru taħt it-tmexxija ta’ Simon Busuttil ftit li xejn kellhom aċċettazzjoni mill-membri tal-PN fil-livelli kollha. Bosta jidher li qisuhom bħala imposizzjoni: il-politika tal-inklussivitá għadha mhix parti mil-lingwaġġ aċċettat mill-PN u wisq inqas mill-politika mħaddna. Diversi fil-PN, sfortunatament, għadhom imxennqin għall-għeruq fundamentalisti.

Kultant nisimgħu xi leħen maħnuq ifakkarna fl-għajta tal-bieraħ “religio et patria”. Għajta li tistona f’kuntrast mal-pluraliżmu etiku u l-identitá Ewropea mħaddna minn sezzjonijiet dejjem jikbru tas-soċjetá Maltija illum. Jidher li l-PN ma tgħallem xejn mill-esperjenzi riċenti tiegħu b’mod partikolari mid-diskors u l-atteġġjamenti fundamentalisti tat-tmexxija ta’ Lawrence Gonzi.

L-ebda partit politku ma jista’ jingħalaq fih innifsu u ma jagħtix kaz ta’ dak li qed jiġri madwaru. Il-valuri tas-soċjetá li qed naħdmu fiha qegħdin fi stat ta’ trasformazzjoni kontinwa, kultant mgħaġġla ħafna, u dan għandu jkun rifless ukoll fil-mod li bih nagħmlu l-poltika. Il-PN illum qed iħallas il-prezz politiku għax fil-passat riċenti dan ma għarfux. Jidher li anke fil-preżent hu deċiż li jibqa’ għaddej fl-istess triq żbaljata.

Instigat minn persuni bħal Edwin Vassallo, il-Membru Parlamentari mill-Mosta li bħal Don Quixote kontinwament ikollu viżjonijiet ta’ mtieħen ineżistenti, il-PN tilef opportunitá oħra meta l-Parlament kellu quddiemu l-abbozz ta’ liġi dwar il-vjolenza domestika. Kif spjegali wieħed mill-Membri Parlamentari tal-PN, il-grupp parlamentari tal-PN kien diġa ivvota favur l-abbozz ta’ liġi dwar id-Vjolenza Domestika kemm fl-istadju ta’ l-ewwel qari kif ukoll fl-istadju tat-tieni qari. Kien biss meta Edwin Vassallo tfixkel minħabba l-viżjoni tal-imtieħen tiegħu li nbidel il-ħsieb u kulħadd fil-grupp parlamentari telaq għal rieħu.

Issa l-PN għamel pass ieħor. Ittimbra “tradituri” lil dawk li kellhom il-kuraġġ li jsemmgħu leħinhom u li ma jibqgħux imxekkla mill-irbit tal-fundamentaliżmu.

L-attitudnijiet tal-lum imorru lura għall-posizzjoni ta’ prinċipju li ħadet Therese Commodini Cachia li irrifjutat li ssegwi l-posizzjoni tal-Opposizzjoni kontra l-Ordni għal Standard Nazzjonali dwar il-leave għall-prokreazzjoni medika assistita f’Ottubru 2017.

Tmien membri parlamentari tal-PN u ċioe Claudette Buttigieg, Chris Said, Simon Busuttil, Karol Aquilina, Mario De Marco, Karl Gouder, Jason Azzopardi u Therese Commodini Cachia bħala riżultat tal-vot ħieles tal-Opposizzjoni appoġġaw l-abbozz ta’ liġi dwar il-Vjolenza Domestika bil-bqija tal-grupp parlamentari jivvota kontra.

Biex ikompli jgħaxxaqqa, il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni, wara li spiċċat din il-kummiedja ddikjara li l-abbozz ta’ liġi approvat, li jimplimenta l-Konvenzjoni ta’ Istanbul, ikun wieħed minn ta’ l-ewwel li meta l-PN ikun fil-Gvern jitħassar. Mid-dehra Dottor Delia mhux jirrealizza li bi kliemu qiegħed jimbotta dak il-jum (li l-PN ikun fil-Gvern) ħafna iktar il-bogħod. Possibilment li l-Kabinett Nazzjonalista li jmiss għadu l-anqas biss twieled!

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 13 ta’ Mejju 2018

“Traitors” in their midst

While the PN rank and file are preoccupied with the “traitors” in their midst, the PN leadership is apparently worried that the party is out of touch with reality, as indeed it is.

The PN will no longer be a party of the elite, declared Dr Adrian Delia. Well, one can always try to achieve that: the results so far are there for all to see.

The party, said Dr Delia, would offer a voice to people at all levels of society –  presumably a voice for “traitors” too!

To say that the Nationalist Party is in a state of turmoil would be a gross understatement. It is now clear to everyone that the very few steps forward made by the PN under Simon Busuttil’s leadership were never accepted by either the PN MPs or by its rank and file. Most considered them an imposition: the politics of inclusivity has not yet made it to the PN political lexicon. Most of the PN, unfortunately, still yearns for its anachronistic fundamentalist roots.

The PN’s perennial motto religio et patria is in stark contrast to the ethical pluralism and Europeanisation embraced by ever-increasing sections of Maltese society. The PN has apparently learned nothing from its recent experiences, most notably when Lawrence Gonzi’s fundamentalist discourse ruled the day. No political party can ignore the rapid changes in our society. The values of our society are in a state of constant transformation, at times at a very fast pace, and this should be reflected in the way in which we do politics. The PN today is paying the political price for failing to recognise this fact and acting accordingly.

Prodded by the likes of Edwin Vassallo, the Mosta MP who constantly has Don Quixotic visions of non-existent windmills, the PN missed another opportunity when the Domestic Violence Bill came up before Parliament. As one PN MP explained to me, the PN Parliamentary Group voted in favour of the Domestic Violence Bill at both first and second reading stage, until Edwin Vassallo panicked due to his vision of windmills, as a result torpedoing his own parliamentary group.

The PN has now gone one step further. They are labelling as “traitors” those who have the courage to stand up and be counted, free from the shackles of fundamentalism.

The current attitudes can be traced to the uncompromising stance taken by Therese Commodini Cachia, who did not support the Opposition’s stand against the National Standard Order in relation to Leave for Medically Assisted Procreation way back in October 2017.

As a result of the Opposition free vote, eight PN MPs – namely Claudette Buttigieg, Chris Said, Simon Busuttil, Karol Aquilina, Mario De Marco, Karl Gouder, Jason Azzopardi and Therese Commodini Cachia – supported the Domestic Violence Bill with the remaining members of the PN Parliamentary Group voting against.

To crown this comedy of errors, the Leader of the Opposition further declared that the approved Domestic Violence Bill implementing the Istanbul Convention, would be one of the first that he would repeal on taking office. Apparently Dr Delia is not aware that his utterances have pushed that day (when he assumes office) further into the future.  It is possible that the members of the next PN-led cabinet have not even been born yet!

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 13 May 2018

L-IVF mhux kapriċċ: (3) Mill-friża għall-adozzjoni

Tkellimna fuq l-iffriżar.

Alternattiva Demokratika qed tgħid li min għal raġunijiet ta’ kuxjenza ma jaqbilx mal-iffriżar għandu jkollu d-dritt li juża l-IVF mingħajr iffriżar (opt-out etiku). Għandu jagħti struzzjonijiet lil konsulenti f’dan is-sens. Ovvjament il-konsulenti ser ikollhom diffikultá għax mhux trattament faċli.

Min jaċċetta l-iffriżar għandu ftit inqas diffikultajiet imma għandu ukoll responsabbiltá dwar x’ser jagħmel bl-embrijuni li eventwalment jiffurmaw. Li dawn jintużaw mill-koppja stess li tkun ipproduċiethom hi l-iktar soluzzjoni faċli. F’każ li jiġri hekk ma naħsibx li jkun hemm xi diffikultá. Anzi naħseb li tkun is-soluzzjoni idejali.

Il-problemi jibdew f’każ li l-embrijuni li qed jiffurmaw u li qegħdin fil-friża għal xi raġuni (tkun xi tkun) ma jintużawx. Il-Gvern fl-abbozz ta’ liġi qed jgħid li wara ħames snin dawn ikunu jistgħu jingħataw għall adozzjoni.

Il-proposta dwar l-adozzjoni tal-embrijuni mhiex proposta originali. Kienet saret f’rapport ta’ kumitat parlamentari li kien tmexxa mill-ħabib tiegħi t-Tabib Jean-Pierre Farrugia li kien mexxa kumitat parlamentari magħżul (Select Committee) dwar l-IVF fl-2010. Il-Membri Parlamentari l-ohra fil-kumitat kienu t-tobba Michael Farrugia (illum Ministru) u Frans Agius (MP minn Haż-Zabbar)

Din hi proposta li hi tajba fuq il-karta imma fil-prattika ftit tista’ taħdem għax min irid jaddotta m’hux qed jistenna l-IVF. Min imur għall-IVF jagħmel dan għax ikun jixtieq li l-wild ikun ġenetikament parti minnu. Naħseb li hi preferibbli addozzjoni normali milli addozzjoni mill-freezer tal-IVF għax tkun inqas problematika. Allura jkun iktar għaqli li l-koppji li jagħmlu użu mill-IVF jerfgħu huma stess ir-responsabbiltá sħiħa għall-embrijuni li qed jiffurmaw u li jitqegħdu fil-freezer. Dan minnu innifsu jnaqqas il-problema ta’ kumulu ta’ embrijuni li qed jiffurmaw fil-freezer.

Dan ovvjament ma jsolvix kull problema għax dejjem ser jibqa’ każi li dwarhom ma jkunx hemm qbil. Hu meħtieġ diskussjoni iktar fit-tul dwar x’jiġri mill-embrijuni qed jiffurmaw u li jitħallew fil-freezer.

Il-Gvern qed jgħaġġel iżżejjed. Hemm bżonn jieqaf ftit iktar u jisma’. L-abbozz jista’ jtejbu.

 

ikompli : (4) Surrogacy: sostituzzjoni tal-omm naturali

Ir-rigali tat-tieġ ta’ Venezja

Il-kurżitá ta’ Simon Busuttil m’għandhiex limitu.

Issa jrid ikun jaf ukoll dwar ir-rigali tat-tieġ li Joseph Muscat u Keith Schembri taw lil Ali Sadr Hashiminejad, sid il-bank Pilatus. Mhux biss, irid ikun jaf ukoll min ħallas għalihom!

Mid-dehra din ser tkun xi mistoqsija parlamentari għal wara l-vaganzi tal-Għid. Probabbilment li jidħol fin-nofs Anġlu Farrugia l-Ispeaker u jerġa’ jżomm id-domanda milli ssir, bħalma ġara ftit ilu meta Simon Busuttil ried ikun jaf dwar il-kontijiet tal-bank tal-Kasco!

Simon Busuttil qed jgħid li biex Hashiminejad stieden lil Joseph Muscat u lil Keith Schembri għat-tieġ dawn bil-fors kienu ħbieb sew, ħbieb tal-qalba. Simon Busuttil qiesu qed jibdel id-diska issa. M’għadux jgħid li dawn kienu klijenti tal-bank u li kien jiftħilhom il-kontijiet l-hawn u l-hemm bil-miljuni jtiru min-naħa għall-oħra tad-dinja qieshom żerriegħa tal-ħarrub.

Issa jekk Simon Busuttil għandu kurżitá biex ikun jaf x’rigali rċieva Hashiminejad mingħand Joseph u Keith, il-kurżita tagħna hi waħda differenti: mhux aħjar inkunu nafu min kienu l-mistednin l-oħra għat-tieġ ta’ Venezja? S’issa nafu bil-koppja Bencini, imma kien hemm ukoll bosta oħrajn. Min kienu: ħbieb, klijenti jew pedini importanti li jaħdmu mar-regolaturi differenti f’Malta?

Għax jista’ jkun li dawn il-mistednin (li s’issa isimhom mhux magħruf) tawħ ħafna iktar minn rigal tat-tieġ lil Hashiminejad. U xejn ma niskanta jekk għal dan diġa ħallasna aħna lkoll.

Id-dellijiet ta’ Adrian Delia

Mid-dehra, Adrian Delia ma jkunx inkwetat jekk flok id-dellijiet tas-siġar nispiċċaw bid-dellijiet tat-torrijiet li qed jinbnew. Dan joħroġ minn kummenti li l-media xandret wara li segwiet laqgħa bejn Adrian Delia u l-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Iżviluppaturi ta’ Malta li fiha Sandro Chetcuti għamel ħiltu biex iħeġġeg lill-partit ta’ Delia li kien għaqli li jimxi fuq il-passi tal-Partit Laburista ta’ Joseph Muscat u jindiehes iktar man-nies tan-negozju. Fi ftit kliem li jkun business-friendly.

Din mhux l-ewwel darba li Sandro Chetcuti pprova jħeġġeg lill-partiti politiċi ewlenin li jaqblihom jekk jisimgħu minnu. Drabi oħra qabbel lil Partit Laburista u lil Partit Nazzjonalista ma żewġt iħwienet kbar li perjodikament ikollhom offerti speċjali tal-blieh. Il-membri tal-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Iżviluppaturi Maltin, kien jiftaħar Sandro Chetcuti, huma dejjem b’għajnejhom miftuħa għall-offerti speċjali, għax dak ikun il-mument li jaqilbu min-naħa għall-oħra.

Li jkollok Gvern li jdub quddiem in-nies tal-flus hi opportunitá tad-deheb għal dawk li jridu jdawru lira. Għax, mhux hekk, wara kollox ma hemm l-ebda differenza bejn id-dell tas-siġar u dak tat-torrijiet: it-tnejn jipproteġu mill-qilla tax-xemx!

Jidher li Delia l-iżviluppatur ittrasforma ruħu f’Delia l-Kap ta’ Partit biex ipproduċa l-izviluppatur-politiku tas-seklu 21. Tidher stramba l-biċċa, imma dejjem kienet hemm, kemm kemm ma tidhirx: bl-iżviluppatur jissielet bejn djun mal-banek u argumenti mal-awtoritajiet tat-taxxa. Fil-passat kellna politiċi li deffsu imnieħirhom fl-iżvilupp tal-art. Illum għandna sitwazzjoni bil-maqlub: għandna żviluppatur li qed ideffes imnieħru fil-politika!

Il-kunflitt bejn dak li jsejħulu żvilupp u l-ambjent ma jispiċċa qatt. Il-problemi li jinħolqu mhux ser ikunu iktar faċli biex jissolvew jekk flok politiċi-żviluppaturi jkollna l-iżviluppatur-politiku. Adrian Delia ġie rappurtat jgħid li ried jiffoka fuq “ippjanar għal viżjoni fit-tul għall-industrija”, ċjoe għall-industrija tak-kostruzzjoni. Probabbilment li dak kien Delia l-iżviluppatur li kien qiegħed jitkellem. Jekk il-ħsibijiet ta’ Delia l-politiku jikkuntrastawx ma dan għadu ftit kmieni biex nintebħu.

L-istampa kienet okkupata tirrapporta li Delia l-politiku kien medhi jitħakkek mal-iżviluppaturi tat-torrijiet. Kien hemm diversi laqgħat ta’ Adrian Delia ma żviluppaturi stabiliti, b’mod partikolari ma dawk involuti fl-iktar proġetti kontroversjali li issemmew dan l-aħħar. Ovvjament li l-iżviluppaturi, b’mod organizzat, qed jaħdmu fuq l-Opposizzjoni, jitolbu l-appoġġ tagħha huma u jgħumu fil-kontroversji kurrenti. Diffiċli tgħid jekk f’din l-okkazjoni sarux jew ġewx imwegħda xi donazzjonijiet (finanzjarji) li ċertament huma meħtieġa biex jittaffew id-djun kbar li l-PN hu mifni bihom.

Dawn il-laqgħat ġew f’mument interessanti ħafna, meta l-President tal-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Iżviluppaturi Maltin ġie appuntat konsulent tas-Segretarju Parlamentari għall-Ippjanar u s-Suq tal-Propjetá. Billi qed jintqal li din il-ħatra mhux ser tkun il-kawża ta’ kunflitt ta’ interess hu probabbli li din is-sitwazzjoni ser tkun rimedjata billi fl-istess ħin jingħata parir liż-żewġ naħat tal-Parlament. Hu ċar li l-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Iżviluppaturi Maltin qed tinkoraġixxi lil Adrian Delia biex huwa jimxi fuq il-passi ta’ Joseph Muscat billi anke hu jkun ħabib sew man-nies tan-negozju (business friendly). Delia mid-dehra dieħel bir-ras mingħajr m’hu jirrealizza li bħala riżultat ta’ dan, il-PN dieħel iktar ‘il-ġewwa fil-but tal-iżviluppaturi.

Sadanittant l-istupru ta’ pajjiżna jibqa’ għaddej. Kif ilu għaddej għal iktar minn 40 sena. Jonqsu d-dellijiet ta’ siġar u fl-istess waqt jiżdiedu id-dellijiet tat-torrijiet.

Dan isejħulu progress!

 

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 18 ta’ Marzu 2018

Adrian Delia’s choice of shadows

Apparently Adrian Delia is not preoccupied if, instead of shadows cast by trees, we are restricted to shadows cast by high buildings. This conclusion results from a comment picked up by the media when he had the opportunity to listen to a Sandro Chetcuti lecture urging the PN to be business-friendly, just like Joseph Muscat’s Labour Party.

This is not the first instance of Sandro Chetcuti lecturing the major political parties. On other occasions he has compared the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party to two supermarkets which periodically make fantastic special offers available. Members of the Malta Developers’ Association, he claimed, are on the look-out for the discount season as this is when they switch their custom from one supermarket to the other.

Dealing with a business-friendly government has been a field day for those intent on making hay while the sun shines, and casts its shadows – both the relatively short ones cast by trees and the much longer ones cast by high rises. It seems that Delia the developer has now morphed completely into Delia the Party leader, producing a 21st century developer-politician: a strange combination, but somehow it was always there beneath the surface – the developer wading his way through overdrafts and tax disputes.

Various other politicians have, in the past, put their finger in the development pie. Now we have the opposite experience: a developer putting his finger in the political pie!

The conflict between the so-called development and the environment is never-ending and the problems created will not be easier to tackle with developer-politicians being substituted by a politician developer.

Adrian Delia was reported as stating that he wanted to focus on “long-term planning for the industry”, that is the building construction industry. Most probably that was Delia the developer speaking. Whether Delia the politician has contrasting views is too early to state.

The press has been busy reporting that Delia the politician has been courting high-rise developers. Various meetings have been held with established developers, in particular  those involved in the most controversial projects currently in the pipeline.

Obviously, the development lobby is working the Opposition, seeking its support in the minefield they are currently navigating. Whether any (financial) donations were made to help alleviate the debt-trodden PN cash-box is anybody’s guess at this point in time.

These meetings come at an interesting point in time, when the Malta Developers’ Association President has been appointed as an advisor to the Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market. Given that it was considered that this appointment did not give rise to “any conflict of interest”, most probably this situation will now be remedied by simultaneously seeking to advise the opposing sides of Parliament.

The Malta Developers’ Association is clearly encouraging Delia to follow in Joseph Muscat’s footsteps of business friendliness and Delia seems determined to barge-in, oblivious to inevitable consequence that, as a result, he will further embed the PN in the developers’ pockets.

The rape of our land is work in progress. It has been going on for over 40 years and, unfortunately, the end is not yet in sight. The substitution of shadows cast by trees by those cast by high-rises goes on.

They call this progress.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 18 March 2018 

Adrian Delia u d-dellijiet

 

Mela fil-laqgħa li Sandro Chetcuti kellu mal-Partit Nazzjonalista kif mistenni, stieden lil Adrian Delia biex huwa ukoll ikun pro-business bħal Joseph Muscat.

L-iżvilupp qalilna Sandro mhux bil-fors ikun kontra l-ambjent. Ovvjament qal Delia. Għax tista’ tqis jew li tgħaddi ħajtek għad-dell tas-siġar inkella minflok toqgħod fid-dell ta’ torrijiet [dawk li jibnu sħab Sandro, jiġifieri].

Ovvjament Sandro Chetcuti qed jistenna li jerġa’ jiftaħ is-supermarket. Ma tiftakrux meta qabbel lill-PN u lill-PL ma żewġt iħwienet kbar [supermarkets] li jikkompetu bejniethom bl-offerti li jkollhom, u l-iżviluppaturi, skond Sandro, jfittxu l-aħjar offerti?

Pro-business? No thanks. Nippreferi nkun favur in-nies.

Il-Kabinett Nazzjonalista li jmiss

 

Mela issa l-PN tilef lil Charlot Cassar ukoll. Fost il-merti tiegħu kellu l-ħidma biex jissensibilizza l-PN għal materji ambjentali u dan permezz tal-opposizzjoni għall-proġett taż-Żonqor.

Mhux l-ewwel wieħed li telaq, u probabbilment l-anqas m’hu ser ikun ta’ l-aħħar.
Bħalma ġara f’kull każ ieħor ta’ riżenja l-PN flok ma ipprova jindirizza r-raġunijiet għar-riżenja ta’ Charlot Cassar reġa’ għaddas rasu fir-ramel.

Il-kummenti li smajna dwar kemm Charlot m’huwiex team-player u xi kummenti oħra li ma rridx nirrepeti turi r-redikolaġni li fiha sab ruħu l-PN.

Mhux ser noqgħod ninseġ ħafna eloġji għal Charlot. Ngħid biss li kien persuna raġjonevoli li fittex it-triq tad-djalogu u sabha fl-attiviżmu ambjentali tiegħu fejn iltaqa’ u ħadem ma persuni ta’ kull lewn politiku. Li l-PN mhux kapaċi japprezza dan ifisser ħafna.

Jiena mhux ser nawgura iktar minn dawn lill-PN. Għax jekk ser jibqa’ sejjer hekk naħseb li l-Kabinett Nazzjonalista li jmiss għad irid jitwieled.

Making hay …….. in St George’s Bay

The 23-storey Pender Gardens high-rise is nearly completed, after nearly 10 years of continuous construction activity. The application for the 31-storey Mercury House was approved last month and next Thursday, the Planning Authority Board will consider planning application PA2478/16 submitted by Garnet Investments Limited in respect of a substantial stretch of land along St George’s Bay on the outskirts of Paceville St Julian’s.

The applicant has requested the following: “Demolition of all existing buildings forming part of St. George’s Bay Hotel and ancillary facilities, Dolphin House, Moynihan House and Cresta Quay. Construction of Parking facilities, Hotels and ancillary facilities, Commercial Area, Multi Ownership holiday accommodation, Bungalows, Language school with accommodation. Restoration of the Villa Rosa and upgrading of the facilities including parking facility, kitchen and toilets all below existing site levels within the Villa Rosa Area to address catering facilities/wedding hall.”

The project includes mixed-uses covering a total site area of 48,723 square metres, a building footprint of 18,345 square metres and a total gross floor area of 82,917 square meters.

It is a small part of the area that was tentatively tackled by a draft Masterplan for Paceville which, after being rejected by public opinion was sent back to the drawing board. I consider it highly unethical for the Planning Authority to proceed with considering this application after the clear and resounding verdict of public opinion. As a minimum, the consideration of this application should have been postponed until a new, reasonable and acceptable Masterplan has received the go-ahead. A minimum effort at achieving consensus as to what development is acceptable is essential.

The Planning Authority is unfortunately insensitive to public opinion. It is amply clear that it, and those who appoint most of its Board members, are on the same wavelength as the development lobby, which is hell-bent on making hay while the sun shines. At this point in time, it is the turn of the St George’s Bay area.

The project is obviously recommended for approval in the 43-page report from the Planning Directorate.

The basic point of contention with such large-scale projects is that they are considered in isolation. Most of them would never get off the drawing board (real or virtual) if the consolidated impact of all neighbouring projects (existing or in the pipeline) are taken into account. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to address similar concerns to the EIA public consultation on the db Group ITS site project.

Five large-scale projects are earmarked for St George’s Bay. Each will generate considerable havoc from excavation throughout construction and right through operation in the whole St George’s Bay area. Cumulatively it will be hell. Who cares?

Way back in 2006, when the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive of the EU was about to be implemented in Malta, the Lawrence Gonzi – George Pullicino tandem rushed through the approval of the Local Plans in such a manner as to ensure that the accumulated environmental impact resulting from their implementation was not scrutinised and acted upon. The present state of affairs is the direct result of that irresponsible Gonzi-Pullicino action 12 years ago.

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) occasionally tries to patch things up. For example, within the framework of the ITS EIA exercise ERA suggested that the traffic assessment of the ITS and the Villa Rosa projects be consolidated. This has, however, been avoided: a case of too little, too late.

So where do we go from here?

The development lobby is maximising its efforts to make hay while the sun shines. In reality, a consolidated mess is taking shape with massively built-up areas in a relatively restricted space punctured by high rises mimicking phallic symbols of all shapes and sizes spread all over the place. Pender Place has 23 floors. Mercury House will have 31. The ITS phallus will have a 37-floor residential tower. The Villa Rosa/Cresta Quay project will have more modest heights.

Next Thursday, the Planning Authority has the opportunity to scrutinise the proposal for this Villa Rosa-Cresta Quay project. We will see once more the extent to which the concrete lobby still holds the Authority by its balls – obviously where this is applicable.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 18 February 2018