Enemalta, the state energy provider posting tens of millions in losses every year – is procuring concrete from an illegal batching plant in Gozo owned by construction magnate Joseph Portelli and his associates.
Procurement data published in the Government Gazette shows that last April, just a few days after the general election, Enemalta awarded Prax Concrete Ltd a €20,000 direct order for the carrying out of trenching works in Qala, Gozo.
This was followed two months later by a €110,000 tender for similar works in Xaghra, also by way of a direct order for the same company.
In both cases, tons of concrete produced illegally at the company’s premises were purchased by the state energy supplier.
The concrete batching plant, which was imported from Sicily and set up illegally in broad daylight within a government-owned quarry in Kercem, is still being allowed to operate four years after the government said it was to take action.
Despite an enforcement order of around €50 a day being imposed on the plant by the Planning Authority, it has not been shut down.
Instead, it is being used by Portelli and his partners – Mark Agius, known as ta’ Dirjanu, and Daniel Refalo, a Comino beach concessionaire turned property developer – to supply concrete for dozens of projects including the construction of apartment blocks and for public projects in Gozo.
The Shift has already reported how the illegal plant supplied various projects undertaken by the Gozo Ministry, including for the new pool being built at the former sports complex in Victoria.
On top of that, Enemalta is now also procuring its concrete from the batching plant.
The Lands Authority, which owns the quarry in which Portelli installed the illegal plant, has not taken any court action against the company or its directors.
Portelli had organised a private dinner for Gozitan contractors just before the last election for Prime Minister Robert Abela, during which donations were collected for the Labour Party’s electoral campaign.
According to recent data, Enemalta awarded the illegal operation a total of 162 direct orders in just six months that were worth a total of over €4 million. In contrast, the number of proper tenders between January and June 2022 amounted to just 36.
This means that under the guidance of Enemalta CEO Jonathan Cardona, politically appointed by Minister Miriam Dalli to head the corporation, the state entity is making most of its purchases through direct orders instead of issuing tenders according to public procurement regulations.