PN slams 'reckless' government spending over €31 million rent paid for Żejtun offices

PN candidates Joe Giglio and Joseph Grech say government has a responsibility to ensure tax payer's money is well spent

PN Candidates Joe Giglio (left) and Joseph Grech
PN Candidates Joe Giglio (left) and Joseph Grech

The Nationalist Party (PN) has taken umbrage with the government's 'reckless' spending of public money after reports surfaced that the Malta Business Registry is renting office space at €2 million a year.

PN candidate Joe Giglio said the party has no issue with government leasing buildings from private entities. However, the problem is the process by which contracts are awarded and the way money is spent.

“The party has no issue with government getting in contact with private entities for the leasing of buildings. What is wrong is the way contracts are assigned, without a proper call of interest. The point is how money is paid. The full value of the lease should be a priority,” Giglio said adamantly.

This was raised during a press conference on Wednesday, where Giglio and PN candidate Joseph Grech addressed what they called "reckless government spending".

They both criticised the Malta Business Registry for renting offices in Żejtun at hefty prices, referring to an investigation by The Shift News that found government will pay €8.5 million over 15 years, when it employs less than 140 employees.

Giglio said the government rented it in a shell state and paid for all the furnishings. He questioned why government leased such an office space, which he said was designed for a bathroom showroom, instead of using a government-owned building.

Giglio stated that government is not spending its own money but that of the taxpayer. “Government’s income is generated by all of our work, so the responsibility is greater to ensure money is well spent in the best interest of all,” Giglio said. 

He added that, without reckless spending, the money could be better invested in schools, sports and infrastructure.

Grech made reference to recent scandals involving former Education Minister Justyne Caruana, where she handed a €5,000-a-month contract to her close friend Daniel Bogdanovic.

He added how, following her resignation, Caruana was awarded a €30,000 “golden handshake” as well.

Grech also touched upon the hospital concession deal with Vitals and remarked how €1.3 million was paid by the government for ancillary expenses, although the contract had originally stated this should have been absorbed by the company.

He remarked on the Corradino Correctional Agency, noting that it signed a contract for security upgrades amounting to €2.1 million but ended up paying double the amount - €4.5 million in total.

“These cases are a confirmation that the Labour government has no issue spending our money irresponsibly. The price is being paid by us all.”