Spike in employees was necessary to avoid further landfilling, Wasteserv CEO says

The issue of the sustainability of the current landfill was brought up in a Public Accounts Committee meeting when Wasteserv CEO Tonio Montebello confirmed that the increase in employees prevented further landfilling

The landfill would have already have reached full capacity if it weren’t for the employment of additional workers at Wasteserv last year, the CEO of the national waste agency Wasteserv Tonio Montebello said.

More recyclable material would have been disposed of in the landfill if it weren’t for the increase in employees to shoulder the necessary work, he explained, in response to a question by Labour MP Julia Farrugia Portelli.

Farrugia Portelli said that this indicates that people out there might not be understanding the mechanisms behind the employment spike.

If the employees were not taken on, the recyclable materials would have ended up in the landfill and this would cause problems, she said.

“If we kept the same rhythm, our landfill would have finished and we wouldn’t have alternatives.”

Montebello confirmed this, saying that the landfill would have been filled if it weren’t for the new mechanism.

Wasteserv employed 400 people by the end of 2013, but the number rose up to 763 in December 2017.

Fenech Adami insisted that he found no issue with the workers being employed, but was questioning the fact that half of them were employed from the first district – where the minister responsible for Wasteserv, Jose Herrera, contests. To this, Abela said that he remembers the same situation at the Malta Freeport – to which Fenech Adami responded that the government MPs are defending wrongdoing by saying that the same happened under the Nationalist administration.

Montebello further defended the employment of the workers by saying that they were not employed ‘capriciously’ – a statement strengthened by a question by PL MP Clayton Bartolo who said that the fact that there was an increase in the tipping fees and revenue shows that there was a need for more workers.

“It’s not easy to find workers, as it is a laborious job and many workers leave the job. We always work with what the finances allow for, and we surely wouldn’t employ people capriciously.”

Bartolo pointed out that there was no deficit despite the employment of a significant amount of people – to which PAC chairman Beppe Fenech Adami remarked that just because there wasn’t a deficit doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a significant increase in costs. This comment caused a commotion by Labour MPs who said that the chairman is nitpicking and derailing the issue due to the word ‘deficit’.

PL MP Robert Abela objected to the fact that the same witness – Montebello – was being asked to testify for the fourth meeting in a row. The Labour MPs agreed that time is being wasted and that the Opposition is putting forward questions which were not relevant.

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