€3.5 million tender for ITS campus plans despite previous €700,000 direct order

The new tender includes services that were already covered in a €700,000 direct order originally issued by Konrad Mizzi in 2016


The government has issued a €3.5 million tender for architectural services despite having already awarded a €700,000 direct order in 2016 to an architect for the same purpose.

Last June, in a bid to revive plans to build an extensive new campus for the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) at Smart City, the government issued a call through the Department of Contracts.

The call was for the interior design and project management needed for the construction of a new nine-storey ITS campus, which would include a hotel as well as the provision of services that were already covered in a €700,000 direct order issued by disgraced former Minister Konrad Mizzi in 2016.

The new tender has yet to be awarded. It is unclear how the value of €3.5 million was reached. The Planning Authority still has to discuss and issue a development permit for the project.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo did not reply to questions asking for explanations about the tender, and neither did he say what stage the project had reached (the campus was meant to be finished years ago).

Where did the money go?

In 2016, Projects Malta awarded a €700,000 direct order for the design and submission of plans for the new ITS project to Architect Colin Zammit of Maniera Group, an acquaintance of the former minister responsible for the entity, Konrad Mizzi.

The direct order issued to Maniera Group in 2016.

A number of architects had questioned the direct order at the time, but the project never took off. After Maniera Group designed and submitted the plans to the Planning Authority in 2016, the project was put on the back burner.

Last year, The Shift sought an explanation about the direct order awarded to Colin Zammit in 2016.

The then Permanent Secretary for Finance Alfred Camilleri said that it was Projects Malta Chairman William Wait and Permanent Secretary Ronald Mizzi, assisting Konrad Mizzi at the time, who had insisted on issuing the direct order to Maniera Group.

The issue was even raised during the public inquiry on the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, where William Wait failed to clarify whether Konrad Mizzi had directed him to issue the €700,000 direct order or not.

A few weeks ago, after a separate deal to revise the supposed ICT city project was reached between the government and Smart City, the ITS project appears to be back on the cards and Colin Zammit presented fresh plans to the Planning Authority, which is now expected to issue its final recommendation.

Fresh plans for New ITS Campus presented to PA by Colin Zammit of Maniera Group

The government is trying to use EU funds for the project, but this move has yet to be approved, due to possible state aid issues related to Smart City and ITS New Campus Ltd, an ITS commercial state entity established to coordinate the project.

Making way for a controversial development

Initially set in the heart of the tourism industry, the ITS had to move from Pembroke to make way for the DB Group City Centre Project, incorporating a hotel and a residential tower engulfing St George’s Bay.

This prime public property, with a market value of hundreds of millions, was passed on to entrepreneur Silvio Debono for only €15 million to be paid over seven years following a controversial tender managed by Konrad Mizzi and disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Source: NAO report.

Following an investigation, the National Audit Office (NAO) raised several questions about the deal, including the procurement process and the closed-door negotiations that led to such favourable terms for the DB Group.

The DB Group project has not started. A Court decision on its controversial permit issued by the Planning Authority is expected shortly.


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1 year ago

Everybody should know that an architect gets paid for the plans submitted even if the plans are thrown in the shredder. That is the law. These are the laws that thus corrupt government uses to pay out monies to cronies and friends. The architect gets 6% of the cost of the finished project, unless a previously agreed quote is requested. Who knows how many of these side kicks have been paid.

1 year ago

Another 3,5 million plate of spaghetti where no one can be identified EVER. It will however go through as there are many consiglieri involved, Mafia Rules as ever what a fucking Island.

T. P.
T. P.
1 year ago

What about parking spaces?

At ITS’s previous site, a very large parking space in front of the institute itself was taken up by the approximately 200 full time students who used to attend since most students had their own car apart from part time students who used to attend in the evening. This apart from the fact that various coaches ferried students who did not have their own means of transport.

It is my understanding that over a thousand full time students currently attend the Institute.

Would it be too much to ask for plans indicating both the size and site where the vehicles are to be parked?

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 year ago

And the rot goes on. I wonder how many millions possibly billions have been used under “the direct orders” scheme?
Why do we have a Finance Ministry set up? Should it not be the Finance Minister grab the bull by the horns and do his duty?
Or is he there purely to sign cheques, particularly a few days prior to an election.

Last edited 1 year ago by Francis Said
1 year ago
Reply to  Francis Said

I suspect that the Finance Minister has the additional task of saying before the election that the finances look just fine, only to realise a few weeks after the election that there is a huge financial hole in the government mess.

Noel Ciantar
Noel Ciantar
1 year ago

Colin Zammit is the go-to Architect for swimming pool permits in valleys in protected Small Rural Settlements within the boundaries of the North West Local Plan. He is the Architect the Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg went to for his pool permit in the Santa Katerina settlement in Rabat (Malta).

The pool is located right in the public’s view point of the Wied Liemu valley on the enclave called Tad-Dahla.

Actually, the Minister obtained two permits for a pool on a field which the Minister bought in 2014 from a vulnerable old man. A Court of Magistrates described the field acquisition process as a diabolical plan.

The first permit was issued by the Planning Authority in 2018 in terms of the Rural Policy and Design Guidance 2014.
In a first appeal in front of the Appeals Tribunal chaired at the time by Martin Saliba, the Appeals Tribunal declared that the site could not be developed in terms of the North West Local Plan policies, but that a pool could be developed under the RPDG 2014, thereby confirming the Planning Authority’s decision. However, a Court of Appeal ruled that the RPDG 2014 is not applicable to Small Rural Settlements, and revoked the permit.

The Minister, who declared on Gadgets (a TV show) that he is a bad looser, would have none of this. So he applied again for a pool on the same site.

A second permit was issued in 2020, with the Planning Authority – by now chaired by Martin Saliba who had moved from the Appeals Tribunal – justifying its green light in terms of the North West Local Plan policies – this being a contradiction of what the Appeals Tribunal led by Saliba had ruled in the case of the first permit. Following a new appeal, in May 2022 an Appeals Tribunal upheld the second permit, justifying it through … (drum roll) … the RPDG 2014.

A fresh appeal has been filed in front of the Court of Appeal.

Last edited 1 year ago by Noel Ciantar

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