Labour, Gatt at loggerheads over Smart City expropriations

Labour – Minister economical on €14 million expropriations for Smart City land.

The investments and transport ministry has accused the Labour party of scaring off foreign investment, over claims by Michael Farrugia that the government spent €14 million in land expropriation and energy infrastructure for the construction of Smart City.

Farrugia said that the details emerged from a PQ in which it was revealed that €5.9 million was spent in expropriation, along with €7.9 million in factory relocations from the Ricasoli industrial estate, and another €55,000 in pending compensation for loss of business.

 “It is shameful that Minister Austin Gatt said on national TV that Smart City hadn’t cost a cent to government, when some €14 million was spent in expenses that also include services from the Water Services Corporation and Enemalta.”

Farrugia added that the WSC had not filed for a permit to demolish the pumping station at Ricasoli up until 11 November 2010, when this had to take place on 31 December 2008.

“What emerges is that it is not true that Smart City’s obligations towards the completion of the project were MEPA’s fault. Gatt has to take responsibility for the delays at Smart City.”

In its reply, Gatt’s ministry said Farrugia’s statement was evidence that a Labour government would not compensate for expropriated private land. “Had it been for Labour, the factory owners would have been left with nothing.”

The ministry said Smart City paid a rent for the Ricasoli land, and that the expropriation’s cost was still reflected in the value of the land being rented.

“Farrugia is mocking government projects and throwing a bad light on our country, just to scare off foreign investors. Labour doesn’t want Smart City to be realized. It’s lucky the private investment in Smart City is not conditioned by the whims of the Labour party.”

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Stefan Mifsud
The less this Minister and Ministry utters or writes the better.