The Gozo Ministry is having trouble explaining a five-year lease for office space costing taxpayers over €150,000 thanks to a procurement process that happened to benefit George Fenech, known as ‘Il-Playboy’, and one of the main ‘canvassers’ for Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri.
The Shift is informed that after the tender process, the choice was made to go for Fenech’s property. But John Borg, the Gozo Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, is not giving any answers despite a call for tenders naming him as the contracting authority.
Asked repeatedly to give the address of the newly leased property and specify who or which departments are using the new 200 square metre office space, Permanent Secretary Borg directed The Shift’s questions to the ministry.
Borg said the minister’s spokesperson, Leanne Bajada, would reply. She did not. Borg then refused to answer questions.
Minister Clint Camilleri’s spokesperson never answers any questions, despite this being one of the main tasks she is paid for by taxpayers.
‘Il-Playboy’, the minister’s ‘canvasser’, was also one of those present at the private dinner held with Prime Minister Robert Abela in Gozo with developers and entrepreneurs in the lead-up to the general elections in March.
The Shift revealed the event had taken place and the fact that a substantial donation of funds was then made to the Labour Party’s electoral campaign.
Sources told The Shift that when Clint Camilleri was Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Welfare, he had already leased an office at The Duke’s complex in Victoria from the same George Fenech.
This office is now being used as the constituency office of Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo while taxpayers continue to subsidise ‘il-Playboy’s’ private property portfolio.
There is concern about a new trend in Gozo where people close to the minister end up getting their private properties funded and restored at taxpayer expense.
Questions were also raised about the lease of new offices in Victoria by the Gozo Regional Development Authority through Clint Camilleri’s ministry and the approval of Permanent Secretary Borg.
While the original tender was won by GTS Ltd, owned by a contractor from Xagħra, for €225,000, the company mysteriously backed out after it won the contract.
Instead of cancelling the tender and restarting the call, as required by public procurement rules, the ministry decided to award the tender to the remaining bidder, Elzan Construction, even though the requested payment was almost twice as much as the real value of the tender.
Elzan Construction is owned by Franceso Grima, known as ‘Il-Giegu’, who is also a very close collaborator of Minister Camilleri.
Last week, The Shift also exposed another questionable deal involving Gozo Channel, which leased a supermarket in Mgarr for ten years for offices, even though the property has massive structural problems.
While already paying the lease for three years without ever using the place, state-subsidised Gozo Channel is now forking out an extra €500,000 to arrange the building.
The building’s owners are the private clients of Gozo Channel Chairman Joe Cordina.
Prime Minister Robert Abela continues to ignore the scandals.