Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo could not inform Parliament about his ministry’s position on a hotel in Mellieha that the Court of Appeal last week found was permitted illegally.
The Shift on Monday reported that the Malta Tourism Authority, which is responsible for hotel operating licences, is refusing to state whether it had already issued a licence for Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli’s new hotel.
Following up on the story, Opposition MPs Rebekah Borg and Robert Cutajar repeatedly asked Minister Bartolo for his position in the wake of the court’s ruling.
Visibly agitated, Bartolo could not come up with an answer and bought time by asking for the questions in writing.
Bartolo tried to ridicule the PN MPs for “not knowing where the hotel is”.
But he was immediately reminded that when serving as Labour’s representative on the Planning Authority’s board, he voted in favour of the illegality despite opposition from the PA’s directorate that had called for the project’s refusal.
“Let me make it clear that the minister knows exactly where the illegal hotel is as he passes in front of it with his car every single day, and he voted in its favour despite the PA’s negative recommendation,” Cutajar reminded the Minister.
“If the minister is now pretending that he does not know what we are speaking about, then he is really living on cloud nine,” Cutajar insisted.
The Shift reported this week how MTA licencing chief Kevin Fsadni has also refused to reply to The Shift’s questions on the matter.
According to the court’s ruling, while the permit Portelli was awarded for the construction of 120 residential units is to remain valid – also because almost all the apartments have already been built and sold – the 30-room hotel cannot be opened.
According to the court, the Planning Authority’s permit had been illegal since the law does not permit such a hotel in a residential area.
The land in question – a vacant plot next to Welbee’s Supermarket in Mellieha that has been vacant for decades – was public land under the Local Council’s administration until 2015.
The large plot was sold to Shopwise Developments M Ltd and developed into a multi-million-euro mixed development through an abusive permit, as declared by the court.
Apart from Portelli and his associates – Mark Agius, known as ta’ Dirjanu, and Daniel Refalo – other beneficiaries include Philip Borg, the owner of the former Tower Supermarkets, which is now part of the Welbee’s supermarkets chain, and the development’s architect Joseph Bondin.
Free Masonry at its Best , Malta style.
But they are ALL Honorable LGBTIQ ( cannot say Men , or I will be shot to pieces in the name of Rainbow Power)
What about the IQ? Their followers may have to put a 0 there.
Labour MP’s try to take the mickey out of the Maltese…..not that I don’t blame them having been branded by Gahan’s by another labour MP!
did Bartolo ask Portelli to submit the request to build a hotel in writing or was it done discreetly in a secluded office? has money again changed hands in this dirty deal?
Abela has a hard time controlling his ministers…if he bothers to control them that is!