PM to replace PA chairman as cull of Muscat connections continues

Martin Saliba, who in 2019 was appointed as Planning Authority executive chairperson by disgraced prime minister Joseph Muscat, is to leave the post and will be replaced at the end of the month, The Shift can report.

Orders for Saliba’s removal came directly from Castille in another move in Prime Minister Robert Abela’s ongoing elimination of people connected to Joseph Muscat, who Abela is replacing with his own people.

Sources within the Authority confirmed Saliba’s contract has not been renewed although the PA executive chairman was thought to have been close to Abela since they worked together at the PA’s appeals board, the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT).

Saliba, a permanent PA employee, chaired the Tribunal between 2013 and 2019 and was placed in the post as soon as Labour was returned to power. During the time span, Robert Abela had been the PA’s legal counsel and was raking in some €17,000 in fees a month through repeated direct orders.

“It seems that Saliba was not ‘obeying’ enough,” a senior PA official told The Shift. “Abela wants someone who he can trust more than Saliba – a ‘yes’ man – who can deliver on the projects of major close developers.”

Despite a number of controversies, including when Saliba was left on the PA’s payroll between 2013 and 2019 even though he was supposed to be chairing an ‘independent’ appeals board, many in the industry, including architects, described him to The Shift as being “a fair and decent man”.

They said that while the positions he occupied were extremely sensitive in nature, and always susceptible to the pulling of strings by businessmen and senior government officials, Saliba is said to have a sense of equilibrium.

On the other hand, various environment NGOs have continually slammed Saliba and called him out on numerous occasions for being ‘biased’ towards big developers.

A case in point was the EPRT’s approval of the db Group’s massive and controversial development at the former ITS campus in St George’s Bay, which was later revoked by the courts, only to be before the courts once again now.

Under Saliba’s tenure, Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli – a close friend of the Prime Minister – is said to have had something of a carte blanche, with the PA turning a blind eye to many blatant illegalities.

It is not yet known where Saliba will be moving or who will replace him. Saliba himself had replaced Johann Buttigieg, who was known for his proximity to certain developers and who was dismissed by Abela from his later position as the Malta Tourism Authority’s chief executive officer.

                           
                           
                               
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Greed
Greed
27 days ago

Not obeying enough?? Seriously? Don’t worry he will get another lucrative position as he will have to keep his mouth shut. And who will lapdoggy robber put in his place,JP by any chance?

Bamboccu
Bamboccu
27 days ago

Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando is the favourite candidate for the job!
He knows how to deal with canals and roots!

Francis Said
Francis Said
27 days ago

I believe that there will be a new authority. The Malta Stay Home and receive hefty monthly remuneration.
Note: For the chosen few ONLY.

Edward Mallia
Edward Mallia
26 days ago

A case in point was the EPRT’s approval of the db Group’s massive and controversial development at the former ITS campus in St George’s Bay, which was later revoked by the courts, only to be before the courts once again now.

The case of the db Group’s first proposal for the former ITS campus was a perfect illustration of Martin Saliba being ”a fair and decent man”. Saliba, then chairman of the EPRT — a personal position with a complete conflict-of-interest, given he was a PA employee! — literally shouted down the main objection to the PA vote favourable to the db ITS proposal brought by the NGO group. This pointed out that a PA member Matthew Pace had a clear conflict-of-interest with the PA vote as he was an employee of an organisation advertising apartments in that same development. Benignly looking on this ”beserker” performance was the then-legal adviser to the PA, one Robert Abela. The NGO group took the matter up to the Appeals Court, with a series of objections. Then-Mr. Justice Mark Chetcuti dealt with the case in short shrift, saying that he felt he should only consider the first objection — that of Matthew Pace’s conflict of interest. That he found justified in a 15-minute summing up and so the PA vote was annulled. So much for Saliba’s fairness and decency.
Yet more: you say that the db ITS proposal is again before the Courts. Martin Saliba has much to do with that, too. When the ‘repeat’ db ITS came up before the Planning Authority, Saliba had been translated to the PA chairmanship by his old friend Robert Abela, by then Prime Minister. Literally a few minutes before the start of the PA session, the members were told that the original sentence of Mr. Justice Chetcuti had stipulated that PA members present for the first vote should abstain if the same proposal came again to the vote. That ”edict”, regrettably swallowed whole by people who should have known better, had several pieces of Saliba’s “fairness”” and ”decency”. The first and most obvious one was that the first Appeal Court sentence contained a caution to be careful of their position regarding conflicts of interest for potential second voters and not at all prohibition. The second was that although, as described by its own architects, db ITS no.2 had significant differences from db ITS no.1, it was given the same PA number. The third was that Pembroke Council which had a vote was warned to change its representative for the db ITS no.2 PA meeting so as not to fall under the original — fake — prohibition of a second vote. A very sly touch this for Pembroke, though a Labour Council, was committed to voting against because of very heavy pressure from residents. But that fair and decent person had done his sums, which said that if he could get away with his ”interpretation” of the first Appeals Court sentence, the db ITS no.2 would scrape home 4-3. Which is what happened. And when it went to the PA Appeals Tribunal, this last produced a 100-page refutation of the NGO case, bearing the paw-marks of that other decent and honest man Robert Musumeci. And so we are back to the Appeals Court. And perhaps Martin Saliba might be penning that eternal squeal heard when ”honest, decent” men are let down by their ”honest, decent” friends: Et tu Brute?

Anthony Nani
Anthony Nani
26 days ago

Different faces same shit. Saliba was far from fair in both the chairmanship of the eprt and as executive chairman.

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