INDIS Malta has become Lands Minister Silvio Schembri’s ‘mini constituency’

‘The abuse of public land is increasing daily and the government’s inaction is encouraging more’.


The blatant abuse of public property, which appears to have become the order of the day at the Lands Authority, has also become rampant at the government’s public industrial property company, INDIS Malta Ltd, according to sources that have come forward to The Shift.

Both the Lands Authority and INDIS Malta are under the political remit of Economy and Lands Minister Silvio Schembri.

Sources at INDIS Malta have complained to The Shift that the administration of industrial parks operator has been turned into a “mini constituency” office for Schembri being run by the minister’s two chief canvassers – Executive Chairman Jean Pierre Attard and Deputy CEO Francois Piccione.

The set-up, according to sources, has seen the company “closing both eyes” to unbridled abuse with businessmen, mostly construction developers, who are close to the minister “doing what they like with public land supposedly meant for industrial purposes”.

INDIS, formerly known as Malta Industrial Parks, is responsible for the administration of industrial estates in Malta and Gozo.

In addition to allocating land or premises such as factories to businesses looking to set up shop in Malta, it also hands out millions of euros to build new facilities for foreign direct investors.

But over the years the allocations made were not all used for their intended purposes and land and factories were in many instances turned into storage facilities or other unrelated businesses.

Some of these public properties allocated in good faith have also been rented out to third parties illegally and without authorisation.

According to sources within INDIS, the government until a few years ago had been active on the enforcement front and had instituted court proceedings against contraveners to have them evicted, such enforcement has come to almost a complete halt under Schembri’s tenure.

“The abuse is now increasing on a daily basis as the government’s inaction is encouraging even more of the same,” said one source speaking to The Shift.

The Penza tarmac plant, a classic example

Those sources pointed toward one current ‘classic case’ of abuse in the form of the Penza tarmac plant in Hal Far.

In 1998, during Alfred Sant’s short stint in government, a company owned by staunch Labour supporter and the owner of Penza Construction Ltd, Carmelo Penza, had been given a large tract of industrial land in Hal Far.

But instead of using it for its originally-intended purpose as a manufacturing facility, the site was turned into a massive tarmac and concrete plant without any planning permits or authorisation from INDIS Malta, which at the time was known as the Malta Development Corporation.

The plant remained in action and for years supplied material for large government projects despite Planning Authority enforcement orders issued in 1998 and later in 2015, which were ignored.

After changes to planning rules in 2015, Penza applied to sanction the illegal plant, which had been operational for almost 20 years.

In 2020, the PA approved the permit and sanctioned the entire operation.

Taking matters further still, when Schembri took over INDIS Malta in 2021, Penza filed a new development application through a simple Development Notification Order (DNO) to remove the now-sanctioned plant and turn the site instead into a warehousing complex to be leased to third parties.

Malta Industrial Parks, now rebranded as INDIS Malta, approved the multimillion-euro business plan and the Planning Authority also approved the plan right away.

INDIS Malta has not answered The Shift’s questions on the matter.

INDIS has also chosen to refrain from explaining how it was considered legal or appropriate for public industrial land to be sublet to third parties.

Sources at INDIS explained that while the development in question is just “one example of dozens of similar abuses taking place every month”, according to one source. “There is total anarchy and INDIS’ inaction is becoming almost spectacular.”

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Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
3 months ago

So, the Bingemma Fort sage is, after all, just a drop in a huge ocean.

It seems that the Executive has turned into a loose – and a very loose one, at that, not to say totally uncommunicated – ‘federation’ of almost independent Ministries.

The man at the top seems either absolutely incapable, perhaps even incompetent, to lead a unified team towards a common goal – that of moving the whole nation forward to really better and prosperous times for all.

Francis Said
Francis Said
3 months ago

Anarchy rules Malta.

A. Fan
A. Fan
3 months ago

With due apologies for the ganster vernacular: Ain’t no public property, dontcha know. It’s winner take all, biatches. It all belong to the NLP crew and their homies now.

3 months ago

Jean Pierre Attard. Imissek tisthi. Shame on you. Il-generazzjoni mnejka tat-taparsi kristjani tac-church schools. Jaqq x’livell baxx lest li tinzel biex tkun paravendu ghal Ministru imkallat.

3 months ago

A glaring illustration of the obscenity of the MLP and the utter incompetence of a worse than useless prime minister.

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