The opening of a Gozo extension of the Active Ageing Ministry’s Centru Servizzi Anzjan will be setting taxpayers back some €60,000 a year in lease costs, with critics describing it as a taxpayer-funded constituency office
Gozo’s Centru Servizzi Anzjan is an imposing building in a former telephone exchange located right in the middle of Victoria’s Republic Street. It is owned by a property company that holds several sites that belonged to the defunct state telecoms company Maltacom.
But unlike that on Old Mint Street in Valletta, the new Victoria Centru Servizzi Anzjan is expected to have little to offer the public since all the important services for the elderly are already being provided by the Gozo Ministry, according to industry sources speaking to The Shift.
“The running of all elderly services in Gozo, including the administration of the elderly homes, are all under the remit of the Gozo Ministry,” a source familiar with the situation said. “This includes decisions on who is to be admitted to residential homes, day-care and all other services.
“This only proves, if there was any need, how Jo Etienne Abela merely wanted an excuse to open a constituency office at the taxpayers’ expense.”
Abela made it to parliament in the last election following the resignation of fellow Gozitan and former education minister Justyne Caruana, who is herself embroiled in a scandal.
She has since been recruited by Abela as a consultant.
Active Ageing Minister Abela is one of three current Gozitan ministers – the others being Gozo and Hunting Minister Clint Camilleri and Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo – who all compete for the same constituency.
Sources told The Shift that the only way Abela could “achieve his goal of becoming Gozo Minister is to be more present in Gozo and by serving his constituents as much as he can”.
Camilleri, in particular, can be said to have turned the Gozo Ministry into a government jobs agency.
The Shift recently reported how Camilleri took exception to Abela’s ministerial outreach centre and snubbed the Centru Servizzi Anzjan’s opening, even though his name had already been inscribed on the commemorative plaque.
Abela’s new ‘mini ministry’ that the government is paying for was once owned by the government itself.
When Maltacom was privatised, the state entity’s properties were sold to the new owners – TECOM Investments from Dubai – at rock-bottom prices.
According to the lease contract tabled in Parliament, the government will be paying Malta Properties Company around €60,000 a year to lease the central Victoria building for five years. The rent will be increased automatically by three per cent per annum.
Minister Abela, through Permanent Secretary Christine Schembri, also inserted a clause that the contract could be extended by a further five years.
The lease costs exclude expenses for refurbishment, upkeep, utilities and the troop of government employees to be deployed to the new centre to meet and greet constituents.
Asked recently by Opposition MP Paula Mifsud Bonnici in parliament to explain the new centre’s services, Minister Abela said that it would be helping the elderly obtain various applications and to fill them in correctly.
Thanzer ministru. Grazzi Ministru.
“Active Ageing Ministry” da wat? why there is such thing?
Another form of election funding paid for by unsuspecting taxpayers. This guy is beyond repair.
IT is not offices that the elderly need as life is becoming more difficult for the them . We talk of their, inclusion but in the meantime there is a total exclusion If these elderly have no family to help them with their daily life it is very difficult for them to cope. The banks and gov services are two examples at times it is difficult for all to make transactions let alone these elderly who are told to use technology, for most of their needs. Our elderly are living longer but the Gov has not provided any new homes. Many are being sent to private homes and it is the Gov paying when renting beds from the private section, this means us tax payers paying the price, What about our roads and pavements, most of which are in a bad state and dangerous, death traps ? No proper space left to use them in a comfortable manner. Most of these parking spaces and pavements are being occupied by business establishments. It is not safe for the elderly to walk to some bus stops as they are far or they have to wait standing with no shelter when it rains, We want our elderly to be independent but yet on the other hand they are hindered from all angles ..
Shame. Besides the 60k rent the Ministry is paying useless wages for the personnel in this phantom office doing nothing. What a waste .
An agency for the elderly should be employing elderly who know how to be patient, understanding and caring about how difficult it is for some to understand a process.