Updated | Government accepts Opposition's demand for debate on Delimara power plant

Country deserves answers on protracted construction of gas power plant in Delimara, opposition says in parliamentary motion; debate to be held on Monday 20 October 

Government this evening accepted the Opposition's demand for parliamentary debate on the Delimara power plant.

Earlier, Opposition deputy leader Mario de Marco and MP George Pullicino presented a Parliamentary motion calling for a debate on the delayed construction of the Delimara power plant, originally scheduled for March 2015.

Government whip Carmelo Abela accepted the demand and told the Parliamentary House Business Committee that government would be giving the issue "priority."

The debate is scheduled for Monday 20 October. Abela said one whole sitting will be allocated for the debate and opening and closing remarks will be made by the Opposition. Moreover, the ministerial statement which energy minister was expected to make this Wednesday will not take place. 

This morning, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat confirmed the delay in the construction of the power station, explaining that this was due to ongoing tripartite discussions between Enemalta, Chinese investors Shanghai Electric Power and the company which was awarded the contract to construct the new plant, ElectroGas Malta.

Presenting the motion to Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia, Pullicino said that the Parliament deserved to be given an explanation by the Prime Minister on what he described as a “a dragging saga.”

De Marco said that Muscat’s actions lacked accountability and transparency, adding that despite government’s repeated promise to table the power plant contract in Parliament, this has never been presented to MPs.

“The contract, if there is one, was never discussed and we have no information on the terms and deadlines. We believe that the country deserves to have the answers to these questions,” he said.  

The motion demands a clear deadline for the completion of the power plant, and how government intends to cover the financial losses incurred by the delay.

Moreover, the opposition motion calls on government to explain the extent of these losses and what it intends to do to mitigate any repercussions which could hit families, businesses and Enemalta. 

Insiders have told MaltaToday that the agreement with the Electrogas consortium had to be revised when SEP acquired a 33% stake in Enemalta plc in March 2014, and became the owners of the Delimara power station extension.

On Saturday, energy minister Konrad Mizzi also confirmed with this newspaper that the construction of the new gas-fired power station in Delimara would not be completed by March 2015.

But he said that the energy tariff reductions for businesses would come into force as pledged.

News of the delay is set to turn into a new headache for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who had publicly claimed he would resign if his government does not deliver the power station within the timeframes it had set for itself.

On 11 April 2013, Enemalta issued an Expression of Interest and Capability (EoIC) for a power purchase and gas supply agreement, binding candidates to build and operate a new LNG plant by 31 March 2015.

Shortly after Electrogas was chosen to build the new plant, Chinese company Shanghai Electric Power purchased the ‘BWSC plant’ for €300 million.