Works start on converting BWSC plant to use gas - PM

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat defends participation at the Commonwealth anti-corruption forum, says he had done so because he did not shy away from taking decisions in the wake of Panama Papers leak

Works on converting the BWSC power plant to make use of gas instead of heavy fuel oil to generate electricity have started this week, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today.

Muscat said the use of heavy fuel oil was gradually being phased out and replaced by gas. According to timeframes announced in December 2014 by then-energy minister Konrad Mizzi, Malta will be making use of gas-generated electricity in June 2016.

The deadline also means that the BWSC's plants convertion to gas has to be completed by next month, while the ElectoGas would have to be up and running by then also. The prime minister explained that last week, half of the BWSC power plant was stopped and the heavy fuel oil infrastructure is currently being dismantled to be replaced by equipment required for gas-generating electricity.

The BWSC plant – which is to be converted to gas by Shangahi Electric Power – is expected to generate 30% of Malta’s required electricity. The remaining 50% and 30% would be provided by the ElectroGas consortium and the interconnector respectively.

Thanking Konrad Mizzi – the former energy minister who last month was retained as a minister ‘without portfolio’ after having admitted to opening an offshore firm in Panama – for his work, the Prime Minister also explained that the maligned LNG fuel tanker which will be berthed at Marsaxlokk Bay would arrive in the coming months in order for it to be used in the first phase of the project, before this is removed and replaced by a gas pipeline from Sicily. The pipeline will link Malta to the European gas distribution network.

The prime minister made the remarks this morning during a meeting at the Labour club in Zabbar, where he told supporters that the Opposition’s criticism on his participation at the Commonwealth anti-corruption forum was unjustified because he had taken the necessary decisions following the Panama Papers leaks.

Muscat instead turned the tables on the Opposition, arguing that Simon Busuttil had never spoken about the previous administration’s corruption.

“They say that whoever does nothing on corruption is corrupt, but I say that those who say nothing on corruption, are equally as corrupt,” he said.

The Labour leader said Busuttil stood in awe and in disbelief at the government’s acivements, and said that the government’s progress could be seen in all sectors.

“This government is better at everything. It has registered better results in the economy, health, environment, culture, work, sport, European funds, transport, as well as planning. The only downside is that the PN government had a stronger and less-destructive opposition than we currently have,” the Prime Minister quipped.

Muscat also slammed Busuttil for not coming up with any concrete ideas, arguing that the Opposition had only managed to come up with half-baked measures, such as its plans on transport.

Taking umbrage at the PN’s transport plan, the prime minister acknowledged that more had to be done to improve the transport sector, but took pride at the government for having the courage to take necessary decisions.

Muscat also argued that the government was creating a new middle class.

“Thanks to the government’s measures in the previous budget, Malta’s social benefits are no longer encouraging a culture of dependency. Rather, people are taking pride at their ability to work and to provide for their family,” he said.

Speaking of the country’s economic turnaround, the prime minister nonetheless insisted that the government is not “blind” to those who are still struggling to make ends meet and those who are at the edge of the poverty line.

Earlier, Muscat paid tribute to Ira Losco, and defended Malta’s spend on the Eurovision Song contest, saying the government would do it again as it was for the best of the country.