The new shooting range in Ta’ Kandja has cost the taxpayer at least €6.24 million, according to information tabled in parliament on Monday on the direct orders awarded by SportMalta.
Junior minister Clifton Grima came under fire over the direct orders, with PN leader Adrian Delia asking why the authorities did not make a public call for payments exceeding €120,000, as required by law.
Although the law states that any payments over €120,000, unless specific criteria are fulfilled, need to be awarded according to an established tendering procedure, SportMalta awarded six direct orders which exceeded the limit set at law.
Grima failed to specify why the tendering process was by-passed but insisted that all the necessary documentation associated with the payments was readily available.
A direct order of more than €2.3 million was awarded for the “negotiated procedure for the construction of a five metre backstop” while another €2.36 million was spent on the installation of a shotnet system.
The list of direct orders tabled by education minister Evarist Bartolo in answer to a parliamentary question by Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi does not indicate the companies or individuals who were awarded the direct orders.
The shooting range was promised by the Labour Party prior to the 2017 general election, however the construction of the site was only made possible by a change in the law a few weeks after the election.
The Times had reported that the changes allowed government to obtain permission without a full development application. The shooting range was validated by the Planning Authority in November through a simple Development Notification Order (DNO), usually reserved for minor developments which only require the clearance of cultural and environmental authorities and a letter of recommendation from the responsible minister.
The shooting range, developed over 100,000 square metres of land close to the Police Academy, will include facilities for trap and skeet shooting, the 25-50m ranges, the 300m rifle ranges, dynamic ranges and paintball.