'Long-term goal to convert Delimara to gas, not heavy fuel oil' - Gonzi

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi says that government’s long-term goal to ensure energy stability for Malta is to eventually convert the Delimara power station to run on gas.

The statements follow months of acerbic exchanges between government and opposition, where government has consistently and persistently advocated the desirability of heavy oil technology over gas technology in the €250 million Delimara Power Station extension.

During the press conference, Gonzi also spoke on the government’s work during past. Regarding the government’s fiscal approach, Gonzi said that “We have changed the texture of government spending from unproductive subsidies to investments that look to the future of the country such as health and education.”

He said that the country now needs to look towards the challenges of the future: “We need to maximise every cent of tax and ensure that we have the courage to carry out the necessary reforms, no matter how hard they may be.”

Malta’s main challenge, he said, is to ensure that the country does not keep depending on one source of energy anymore (i.e. the Marsa Power Station).

He said that through initiatives that promote investment into alternative sources of energy, as well as the Sicily/Malta energy interconnector, the government hopes to move Malta away from this dependency.

Throughout his address, Gonzi repeatedly emphasised the importance of both the interconnector and the Delimara Power Station extension. He praised the “government’s decision” to close the Marsa Power Station – omitting to mention however that the decision is overdue by a year as the plant was originally slated for closure in 2010.

An EU directive binds the government to closing the plant by 2015 latest, or face stiff fines and even possibly punitive action.

Gonzi said that the energy demand would keep rising, and that Malta’s dependency on one source of energy represented a “vulnerability” which government is seeking to address.

He said that to be able to also ensure an attractive and competitive market for foreign investment, Malta has to ensure a stable energy source.

Government ‘against’ state funded political parties

During the press conference Gonzi also declared that government “was not considering” state funding of political parties, and indicated that a draft report on the matter prepared by PN MP Franco Debono was compiled the recommendations of the 1995 Galdes Report in 1995.

Speaking during the press conference, Gonzi said that the draft Bill – as prepared by Franco Debono - has now been handed to legal experts for their comments and is expected to be also discussed by the political parties.

He hoped for agreement on the draft Bill, saying that he does not wish for such a law to be a “unilateral imposition”

Gonzi said that Debono was directed to look at the way donations and other similar sources of funding are to be capped, adding that government did not consider looking at fully-fledged state funding for political parties.

He maintained that the draft Bill will consider other foreign legal frameworks for party funding, adding that Malta is not trying “to reinvent the wheel” and that the Galdes report was also considered.

In 1995, the Galdes Report had proposed the capping of donations to political parties as well as the identification of those donors who contribute significant amounts.

Air Malta

Asked about Air Malta and whether the 600 worker layoffs estimated are founded, Gonzi once again reiterated that the situation is as yet sensitive and withheld from commenting on the exact nature of any figures.

Gonzi would only say that “restructuring will be necessary,” adding that currently, the plans are being finalised before being presented to the EU.  “It is then up to them”, he said, referring to how the EU will require to vet the Air Malta rescue plans within the context of the EU’s state aid regulations.


Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco noted the challenges posed by the civil unrest that is sweeping Mediterranean and North African countries.

He emphasised that Malta should not remain complacent, even if figures for the first three months of 2010 showed a healthy increase in tourism. “We need to promote Malta as a safe destination where business is as usual.”

De Marco said that the Malta International Airport registered an 18% increase in arrivals “and that even excluding the increased traffic seen during that time related to the Libyan unrest, there is still a significant increase.”

Natura 2000 Sites

De Marco said that it is not enough that a large number of Malta’s green areas are marked as Natura 2000 sites. “We need to go beyond and manage them properly as such sites require,” he said.

He said that plans in this regard will be finalised by 2013.

Consumer Protection

Parliamentary Chris Said also spoke of the establishment of a new Consumer Protection Agency. He said the agency will enhance and safeguard consumer rights, promote awareness of consumer obligations among business owners, and ensures fair and balanced competition.

Regarding medicine prices, Said said that following discussing with importers and stakeholders, government managed to reduced the price of a number of medicines. He stressed however that this was done “without imposition on anyone.”

Regarding banking regulations, Said added that amendments also introduced the concept of Early Repayments without incurring penalties or additional payments.

Consumer Protection Tribunal

Nationalist MP Franco Debono praised the work carried out by the Tribunal, saying that as many as 359 cases were heard before the Tribunal in 2010, adding that the number of cases appearing before it are on the increase.

Now that the €4,000,000 commissions have been distributed we get a change of heart, how very green of the honourable gentleman. Conumer Protection: How about leading by example and pay out the irregular VAT charged on new vehicles to their rightful owners. AirMalta We can afford €50 million to bail out Portugal which is not our concern but find it hard to find the money to bail out AirMalta and save jobs, while engaging foreign CEO s who are not cwiec with a €500000 tax free pay pack. State funding political parties, gonziPN is already well greased by millionaire contractors I'm alright fcuk you Jack.
This is something which should have been decided years ago. But one must, today, add a note of caution. The supply of gas, obviously from abroad, will in future be subject to large economic pressures, the same as oil. The largest gas producer in Europe, Russia, will soon cease selling gas to other European states. All of its gas will go to China; in fact they are already building a huge pipeline straight to China.
Unbelievable,gas power station long-term goal for Gonzi, The changeover to a gas operated power station will cost the tax payer a further €27 million.
Mark Fenech
The using of gas fired generating plant should have been on short term basis. It is true that we do not have any source of supply as yet, but that is the fault of the politicians. They allowed Libya and Italy to use our continental shelf for nothing without giving Malta a supply pipeline of LNG. We have allowed these two neighbours to take us for a ride. If it was not feasible to make a T joint in the pipeline when passing near Malta, we should have requested them to supply us with a pipeline from Gela for free, as they are using our property for nothing at all. Why are we so prudent to claim for what is ours?????
Dr Demarco said "the challenges posed by the civil unrest that is sweeping Mediterranean and North African countries.... Malta should not remain complacent...We need to promote Malta as a safe destination where business is as usual.” And when Joseph Muscat said something similar all hell broke loose and government apologists were up in arms against him.
This new Gonzi excuse reminds me of a sticker I see on at the local ' snack bar' today yo pay cash, tomorrow free'!
Luke Camilleri
It would have been "short-term" with some foresight...especially with the PN being in goivernment for over 20 years without an energy policy at all and a Power station built 20 years ago which is still unpaid for! It's Gonzipn that is lacking the gas to move and plan ahead in its eagerness to please its sustainers especially in tender bidding! BWSC..BWSC...BWSC...