PM reiterates new power plant delay caused by ‘tripartite negotiations’

Opposition demands publication of contracts signed with Chinese-owned Shanghai Electric Power and ElectroGas consortium

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

The delay in the construction of a new power plant was caused by tripartite negotiations following the involvement of Chinese-owned Shanghai Electric Power, an investment which did not form of the original plan put forward by Labour during the electoral campaign.

Addressing parliament, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reiterated that parliament will be given “a clear timeline” of the construction of the new power plant once all negotiations have been concluded.

“The delay was caused by tripartite discussions that were never envisaged. We worked well and attracted an important investment, despite the PN’s statements that our plan would have never attracted investors,” Muscat said.

He reiterated that the government had managed to turnaround Enemalta’s financial situation “from a corporation that was on the verge of bankruptcy to one that will start making profit”.

The Opposition this evening reiterated its call for government to publish the contracts which the government is negotiating with Shanghai Electric Power and ElectroGas.

Leader Simon Busuttil also questioned the need of a re-gasification plant once the pipeline comes into force.

“Both the interconnector and the pipeline are required to ensure security of supply. What should a country do if the pipeline gets damaged by an anchor? These issues are not solved within hours. Should we leave the country without an energy source for days?” Muscat said.

He reiterated that Labour’s energy mix included both the interconnector and the pipeline, pointing out that he had to personally intervene with two Italian Prime Ministers to ensure that the necessary permits for the interconnector are obtained after the previous administration failed to acquire these permits.

“If Busuttil thought that the state of the interconnector was plug and play, he has no idea what he’s talking about,” Muscat said.

He said, that re-gasification facility could not be avoided to ensure that Malta doesn’t find itself without a source of energy. The pipeline, he added, formed part of the government’s medium-to-long-term strategy while the interconnector on its own was not enough.

Muscat also briefed parliament on the conclusions of the last European Council, held in October, that tackled climate change and the economy.

In reply to other questions raised by various members of parliament, Muscat said the European Union agreed that it greenhouse emissions should decrease by 40% by 2030 when compared to the level of emissions registered in 1990.

“Each member state is now negotiating its targets at a national level,” he said, adding that at this stage Malta would not be revealing these negotiations as not to influence other negotiations between the Commission and other states.

He confirmed that Malta was the only country not to make use of a trading emissions system, a scheme that gives member states a capping of emissions, allowing countries to buy allowance according to their targets. Malta auctioned in the market, but never opted for the free allowance, arguing that emissions will be reduced by 60% through the use of a gas-fired power plant.

However, Malta is targeting a special arrangement to use allowances in non-ETS – mainly traffic, agriculture, waste and old air conditioning systems.

Muscat also told the House of Representatives that due diligence carried out into a Singaporean company, International Energy Group, proved to be “satisfactory”. The government, through its investments arm Malta Enterprise, has set up a joint venture with IEG. Malta Enterprise will have 10% of the shares.

According to the PM, this joint venture will help Malta become “a trading financial hub” between Europe and Asia.

In reply to a question raised by PN MP Beppe Fenech Adami on Muscat’s last trip to Singapore to participate in the latest citizenship conference organised by Henley & Partners, Muscat said his involvement in these conferences was rendering results.

Fenech Adami quipped whether there was an obligation in the contract for Muscat to act as “a salesman” doing the works the concessionaires should be doing.

“No, I have no obligation to represent our country during these conferences,” he said, adding that a full report by the IIP monitoring committee will be published as pledged.

Fenech Adami pointed out that the contract was never tabled in parliament.

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