PA member singled out for DB conflict of interest resigns

Planning minister Ian Borg announced on Facebook that Matthew Pace, Ivan Tabone and Mariello Spiteri have resigned from their posts with the Planning Authority

Matthew Pace
Matthew Pace

Matthew Pace, the PA Board member singled by the Courts for having had a conflict of interest when he voted in favour of the DB Groups’ St George’s Bay development, has resigned his post, less than a month after saying he would not be doing so.

The resignation was announced by Planning Minister Ian Borg in a Facebook post. 

Pace, along with Ivan Tabone and Mariello Spiteri resigned their post with the authority for personal reasons, the minister said.

Pace and Tabone are members of the PA Board, which decides on permit applications for big projects, while Spiteri is a member of Planning Commission which handles more minor permits.

Last month, a permit granted to the DB Group for the construction of a residential and hotel complex on the site of the former Institute of Tourism Studies was revoked on the basis of Pace’s conflict of interest.

Tabone was Transport Malta’s representative on the PA board, while Pace represented the commercial sector.  

Spiteri, an architect, is a shareholder and director at EMDP, an architecture firm that regularly conducts Environment Impact Assessments commissioned by private developers.

Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti decreed that Pace’s conflict of interest arose from his potential financial interest in the success project because, together with his partners in Remax he stood to gain from commissions from the sale of a part of the development, which the firm had advertised.

Contacted by MaltaToday earlier this month, Pace had said that he saw no reason to resign, however both Borg and the Prime Minister disagreed with his position and said that he should go.

MaltaToday understands that the resignations followed an email circulated by Borg, reminding PA officials about their obligation to avoid conflicts of interest.

READ MOREPA board member owns EIA consultancy, wife now appointed chief of ERA

Borg thanked three for their work serving on "such an important board which takes crucial decisions for the country". 

“It isn’t easy for one to serve on such boards and to be exposed to criticism but when occupying such roles, one must be prepared to accept constructive criticism.”

The minister said however that “attacks, including those seen today, are not acceptable”.

“I would like to express solidarity with Professor Victor Axiak who does such a good job on the board,” Borg said.

Axiak, who is the chairman of the Environment and Resources Agency and also a member of the Planning Board, was uncharacteristically silent during yesterday’s board meeting, which approved the controversial Central Link Project in Attard.

The ERA chairman has come under fire from activists and residents for his vote in favour of the project, despite an Environment Impact Assessment by ERA saying that the project would result in the unprecedented loss of 50,000 sq.m of agricultural land and 549 trees, 272 of which are protected.

READ MORE: Court halts DB project: Planning permit revoked

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