On 1 June, Robert Abela declared, “The PN, while in government, implemented the local plans as they pleased – the government’s hands are tied due to what the previous administration did. It’s not as simple as saying the government will change the local plans”.
On 29 August 2023, he announced that the Cabinet approved a document to change the 2006 local plans. Oh, so Abela can change the PN’s 2006 local plans after all. Weren’t his hands tied?
Nobody tied Abela’s hands. He’s been taking the country for a ride for the last three years.
He conveniently blamed the PN administration’s changes to the local plans in 2006 for the massive overdevelopment that he orchestrated together with his friends and business partners, the developers.
He’s looted the country to enrich his friends. He’s given away precious public land for developers to turn into more ghastly apartment blocks.
The issue was the same in 2021 and 2023 – Ħondoq ir-Rummien. In 2021, Abela duped the nation with his false statement. He couldn’t do anything. He claimed it was all the PN’s fault.
“Regarding issues which are ODZ and which aren’t, I remind everyone that local plans in our country were drawn up in the year 2006 – this happened during a PN administration,” he insisted. “The reality is that today there are these restrictions – it’s not simply saying I will change one area’s designation from one to another”.
But that’s precisely what he’s doing now.
“There are restrictions even of a legal nature because of the circumstances introduced at the time,” he said in 2021. “That (local) plan created rights for property owners, and it is not as simple as saying that the government will change the local plan and the rights that these owners have,” he insisted.
Now Abela’s changed his mind. It is, he’s decided, as simple as saying that “the government will change the local plan”. That’s precisely what he’s proudly announced on a Facebook reel, later uploaded onto YouTube. Listen to him bragging about it if you still can’t believe it.
So what’s changed?
In 2021, Abela was busy protecting his friends, the developers. On the eve of the last general elections, he was dining with Joseph Portelli, whose obscene Sannat developed was greenlighted days later.
Abela personally inaugurated the illegality-ridden Montekristo offices of Charles Polidano, iċ-Ċaqnu and lauded Polidano for his “efforts”.
He’s personally inaugurated Bonnici Brothers’ developments at their quarry – and uncovered a plaque to commemorate his shamelessness.
He then concealed how much money Malta Enterprise gave the Bonnici Brothers.
Gilbert Bonnici, one of the directors of Bonnici Brothers, is Robert Abela’s business partner in a development in Iklin through which Abela made hundreds of thousands of euros.
For years, Abela hid under the fallacy that he was constrained to allow his friends to concrete over the whole island – because of that nasty Gonzi and his nefarious PN administration. Poor Abela couldn’t do anything. He wanted to protect the country from his friends’ greed, but he simply couldn’t. His hands were tied by the PN.
He even got his ministers to parrot this same false narrative, which was drummed relentlessly into the people’s minds.
When Aaron Farrugia was challenged by the mounting criticism of overdevelopment in Gozo in November 2021, he said: “The ongoing development in Xlendi and elsewhere in Gozo is all based on the local plans established in 2006″.
Economy Minister Silvio Schembri repeated the line. Schembri devised a devious plan to give away 3,900 square metres of public green land at Mellieħa’s il-Qortin to another developer, Paul Attard, who provided the minister with his Luqa district office.
Schembri resorted to Abela’s favourite excuse when he was caught out and exposed. In parliament, he insisted, “The area in question was included in the 2006 local plan”.
So it’s not Schembri’s fault that he’s ignoring the hundreds of residents who signed a petition to stop that land being given away for the development of more hideous flats. It’s the PN, stupid. It’s the PN from 2006.
Schembri’s hands were tied, too. He had to give his friend Paul Attard that public land worth over €12 million for peanuts.
When his deviousness was revealed, Schembri promised he would provide evidence that he was paying rent on his Luqa office. He still hasn’t provided a shred of evidence that he’s paid anything for it. Or maybe he has – in public land instead of euros.
This is the latest in a long series of embarrassing gaffes.
Abela is as fickle as the wind. He’s sensing that the public mood is getting darker. The nation is getting angrier. The people have finally realised that the nation’s assets – its environment, its land, its fabric, its culture, its democracy, its historical artefacts, its money – are being stolen by Abela and his lackeys.
The country feels cheated. And it’s turning its ire onto Abela and his ministers.
The prime minister has his back to the wall. He’s sensing things are falling apart. He’s forced to change tack.
He’s on the people’s side all of a sudden. He’s for the environment. He’s pretending he’s against the cowboys, his friends the developers.
He will soon find out it’s a bit too late. There’s only so many times you can fool the nation. His brand of professional looting fused with incompetent governance has taken its toll. And its product is a disgruntled, angry nation that will no longer be silenced.