Corinthia draft agreement is final and will address genuine concerns – PM
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, after being asked at Castile, gave an assurance that the final draft of the agreement presented to the Corinthia Group will address genuine concerns that have been raised in various quarters and said there will be justice for all. Asked about the value of the land, the Prime Minister compared this agreement with that made for Smart City. He said the comparison is that for the value of a tile in the Corinthia case, the land for Smart City had been purchased.
The project proposed by the Corinthia Group for the development of two, Six Star hotels as well as a residential and commercial complex on the St George Peninsula has remained high on the public agenda.
The Government denied media reports that fresh negotiations have been opened with the Group to change the terms of the proposed agreement after a warning that the agreement breached EU Regulations on State help.
Dr Muscat said that as an example, all the cases of public land given as a concession to private entities have all been on a perpetual lease basis. He said he cannot understand why there should be discrimination against a Maltese investor when Smart City was not given this condition. Smart City owns the land and can sell it off any time they want without any problem. He said the previous administration had given a substantial amount of land. He said a study of the MIDI situation shows they do not have this type of constraint.
Asked about criticism of the value of the land and the money payment requested from Corinthia, the PM recalled the land concession given to them by the previous Government was against payment of €200,000 annually and if the Group wanted to, for the next 75 years they can sit on the land and leave everything as it is. He said instead of this, the Group is proposing a very strong investment.
The Prime Minister said that for the equivalent of a tile sold to Corinthia, the whole of Smart City may be bought. He said the land evaluation had been carried out by independent experts and the Government accepted their evaluation.
Meanwhile the Local Councils of Pembroke, Swieqi and St Julian’s, seven NGOs and groups of residents have united and in a joint letter to the Chairman of the Permanent Committee for the Environment and Development Planning, Alex Muscat, requested him to convene a meeting with urgency. They remarked that although this is not a development application, the draft agreement with Corinthia refers to land reclamation from the sea that together with other aspects needs development permission. They claimed that the conditions of the Corinthia agreement will have an effect on interested parties, the public and the environment and will affect the quality of life. They said the public has a right to know what studies were carried out for such a great development.