Comino beach concessions extended without a tender

After months of hiding lucrative public beach concessions given to three individuals close to the Labour government, two ministers have now admitted the concessions were extended without a tender for at least two consecutive years.

The extensions, issued by the Malta Tourism Authority and termed illegal by public procurement experts, were given on the direct instructions of Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo, who played the Covid-19 card.

Opposition MPs Rebekah Borg and Albert Buttigieg have asked a raft of parliamentary questions over at least six months seeking an explanation and the contracts for the concessions.

But both Ministers responsible for the Lands Authority, Silvio Schembri, and Tourism, Clayton Bartolo, have been running Parliament around in circles – refusing to say whether there have ever been any public calls for the concessions, which have been running for several years now.

They have also refused to publish any of the three concession agreements, citing the usual jargon such as commercial sensitivity.

Until now, the MPs have managed to establish that the Lands Authority has been ‘renting’ three of Comino’s prime areas – two in the Blue Lagoon and one in Santa Marija Bay – to the MTA since 2018.

The agreement, which is for 15 years, remains under wraps, with the minister arguing it is “an internal document”.

Clayton Bartolo, whose family has a direct business interest in Comino, has meanwhile confirmed the MTA has given out three concessions in Comino but still refuses to name the concessionaires or publish the agreements.

Bartolo even refuses to state whether the concessions had been awarded through a public tender.

Asked when the concessions would come to an end, Bartolo did say that “a new tender is going to be issued at the start of 2023”.

Reminded by Buttigieg that what he was referring to was the current concessions, Barolo finally conceded that “the agreements were extended until the end of 2022 due to the pandemic”.

Interestingly, the new call won’t be issued until the beginning of 2023, which might give the current concessionaires another summer of business before the tendering process is concluded.

The government was under intense pressure last summer with public protests by NGO Moviment Graffitti over how Comino was being used and abused by a few Labour Party cronies.

The Shift has already revealed that the two concessions at the Blue Lagoon are held by Daniel Refalo, who, from renting deckchairs, became a developer and business partner of Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli and Mark Cutajar. The latter is the brother of Labour MEP Josiane Cutajar and is a Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri canvasser.

The other concession, at Santa Maria Bay belongs to Sandro Ciliberti, who had a bomb placed outside his Xagħra home in 2016.

                           
                           
                               
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Carmen
Carmen
1 month ago

They have no shame at all.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Carmen

How could scum not vote for scum?

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
1 month ago

how could people vote for this scum???

KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

Poor poor Malta.

KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

Our jails are too small for all the political traitors on the constitution.
Doesn’t anyone wonder why the youth wants to leave this beautiful country as soon as possible?

Nigel Baker
Nigel Baker
1 month ago

Looking at the photograph above the headline to the article, who in their right minds would want to visit the Blue Lagoon?

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