‘An excuse to turn ODZ land into real estate project’ – Busuttil on proposed university

PN leader Simon Busuttil says proposed development of American University of Malta is reminiscent of measures taken during Lorry Sant administration. 

The proposed development of the American University of Malta will not be an investment in education but just an excuse to turn a large piece of virgin land into a real estate project, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said.

Busuttil, who last week welcomed the new university, pulled no punches in lambasting the project and even claimed that the government’s decision to sacrifice arable land echoed decisions taken in the 1980s by former public works minister Lorry Sant. 

Echoing environmentalists’ concerns that the proposed development should not be built on ODZ land, the PN leader questioned the existence of the development, claiming that the proposed university is in reality, a real estate project.

“Whenever the prime minister says something, it has become the order of the day to ask ‘where’s the catch?’ … The development is being posed as being a university but the De Paul University said it is not involved. Joseph Muscat is trying to sell it as an educational project, but in truth it is just an excuse to turn an ODZ land into a real estate project,” he said.

Busuttil also asked whether it is a coincidence that the land earmarked for the development of the university incorporates private land owned by people close to the Labour Party.

“Is it perhaps a coincidence that people very close to the Labour Party own some of the land at Zonqor Point? This brings back memories of the manoeuvres and obscenities that were carried out years ago. The government’s actions and its treatment of the environment are reminiscent of those taken in the 1980s, that is what we are getting: Vote Joseph, Get Lorry,” Busuttil argued.

Addressing the PN faithful in Nadur – where the PN managed to retain a majority in the local council elections despite registering a decrease in voters – Busuttil insisted that the party’s response to the work for votes scandal highlighted the different standards adopted by the two parties.

While paying tribute to former Gozo minister Giovanna Debono, Busuttil argued that the PN’s stand was always consistent as it waited for the police investigation to be concluded, whereas the Labour Party used the case to gain political mileage.

“As soon as Giovanna Debono’s husband was arraigned, I took action. We both arrived at the clear and logical conclusion that she had to resign from the party and from the parliamentary group,” he said.

Busuttil explained that even though Giovanna Debono was not charged, her position was no longer tenable because of the doubts cast on her.

“These are the standards of the PN, we did not condemn anyone, but we are not ready to ignore any doubts on anyone’s reputation. People expect the highest standards from everyone, but are only getting them from the PN. Joseph Muscat, on the other hand, does not have the same standards and uses a different yardstick,” he said.

Busuttil said that as opposed to the Nationalist Party, Joseph Muscat has consistently bent his yardstick to defend the behaviour of Labour MPs and party members, and that this highlights the difference between the parties.

He argued that the prime minister awarded Cyrus Engerer with a job in Brussels and a €85,000 salary despite him being handed a suspended sentence. Similarly, Busuttil explained, that it was inconceivable for Manuel Mallia to retain his MP status after granting Maltese nationality to his wife.

Moreover, Busuttil argued that Muscat bent his yardstick to Konrad Mizzi, Joe Mizzi, Helena Dalli, Luciano Busuttil, Owen Bonnic and Ian Borg.

“It seems that Joseph Muscat only expects high standard from Opposition, but then again how can Muscat have the moral authority to demand people’s resignations when he gave the owner of Café Premier €4.2 million,” he said. 

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