Opposition MP claims ‘corruption’ behind Mriehel skyscraper proposal

Ryan Callus claims that the government 'slyly' inserted a clause to allow the construction of skyscrapers in Mriehel, allowing business groups involved in the LNG power station project to propose a massive complex in the locality 

A proposal to construct four skyscrapers in Mriehel “stinks of corruption”, Opposition MP Ryan Callus claimed.

Speaking in Parliament during a debate on the Office of the Prime Minister ahead of a vote on the 2016 Budget, Callus recounted how the government’s draft Floor to Area Ratio policy that it had released for public consultation did not include the possibility of constructing skyscrapers at Mriehel.

Neither did any of the submissions during the public consultation process propose the allowance of the construction skyscrapers at Mriehel.

“Somehow though, the final policy included a clause that allowed the construction of skyscrapers in Mriehel,” he said. “The government slyly inserted this clause at the last minute without allowing the public to give its views about it.”

Gasan and Tumas – two powerful business groups – have now proposed a futuristic high-rise tower complex in Mriehel. Callus pointed out that these two businesses jointly own GEM Holding, a company that forms part of the EletroGas consortium contracted to build a LNG power station in Delimara.

“This whole deal stinks of corruption and a dirty style of capitalist politics,” he said. “The government is morally corrupt, pseudo-socialist, and its true colours have come out.”

MEPA’s chief lawyer ‘forced to resign’

Callus also had harsh words about how MEPA’s former chief lawyer Anthony Degaetano had been paid  €250,000 in an “unprecedented” golden handshake.

“MEPA described it as an out-of-court settlement for cases won by Degaetano against the authority’s management, but the cases in question had been settled years ago,” he said, suggesting that the true reason behind his dismissal was because he was an annoyance to MEPA chief executive Johann Buttigieg.

“Buttigieg decided to give Degaetano a golden handshake unilaterally, with no involvement by the MEPA board,” Callus said. “He paid a quarter of a million euro to force Degaetano out, and it was only thanks to media reports that the news became public”.

The Opposition MP also condemned the hundred or so transfers of worker from MEPA’s Planning Directorate alone in recent months, as well as MEPA’s decision to carry out a verification exercise to establish whether the Union Haddiema Maghqudin should maintain official recognition of its employees.

“Why does MEPA want to carry out a verification exercise when it is about to demerge into two authorities?” he questioned.