Second claim of foul play filed against Maghtab incinerator tender decision

Paprec-Bonnici’s bid impossible with ‘abnormally low’ price


Tista taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.

The procurement process led by the government to choose a supplier for a long-awaited waste incinerator has come under fire again, this time by FCC Medioambiente International – another multinational bidder in the procurement process.

Through an official reply submitted to the Public Contracts Review Board (PCRB), the company with a proven track record in similar projects across Europe accused the government of conducting a “superficial evaluation” and breaking the rules.

Upping the pressure on the government, the FCC claimed that the government’s choice – a consortium involving French Paprec and Maltese contractors Bonnici Brothers – is not feasible.

FCC said that based on its own experience in similar projects, “it considers it impossible that a solution which complies with the stringent requirements of the tender document, and even more so, obtains 98 of the technical weight, can be implemented for a price of €599,695,900.”

According to FCC, the ‘selected’ Paprec-Bonnici bid is “abnormally low”, and an investigation should be carried out for their possible disqualification.

FCC’s objection is the second to be filed against the government about what is the largest tender issued during this legislature.

Last week, following the government’s announcement of its preliminary decision recommending the award to Paprec-Bonnici, the second classified bidder, multinational Hitachi Zosen Inova AG – Terna SA objected.

The Japanese multinational claimed that the government had “irregularly published the ‘non-binding’ financial offers by some of the bidders” during the ongoing process, “an irregularity, which has the effect of distorting competition and preventing a fair process.”

As claimed by FCC, Hitachi insisted it was impossible for Paprec-Bonnici to “sustain such a price” if they were to deliver the technology in the tender.

Both the Department and Contracts and Wasteserv dismissed the claims.

While hiring Malta’s most prominent legal firms, the government insists that all was done above board and according to international standards.

Eyebrows raised from the start

The €600 million tender has been controversial from the start.

While the participation of Bonnici Brothers, a local contractor with no experience whatsoever in the waste-to-energy industry but close to Prime Minister Robert Abela, immediately raised eyebrows among industry leaders.

The ‘mistake’ of publishing the prices indicated by competitors prematurely, against the rules, let the cat out of the bag at a crucial time when the bidders were supposed to be competing through a best and final offer at the last remaining stage of the competition.

While at that stage, the Department of Contracts was advised to stop the process to avoid future legal problems, the OPM insisted on awarding the lucrative tender to Paprec-Bonnici Brothers.

The Shift has extensively reported the proximity between the Bonnici Group and the prime minister.

Apart from the fact that Abela used to handle Bonnici Group’s legal matters when in private practice, at the same time as acting as legal counsel for the Planning Authority, he also carried out personal business with Gilbert Bonnici, the managing director of the group.

With his wife Lydia, he invested in a property in Iklin then turned into flats.

Abela’s partners were Gilbert Bonnici and Simon Buhagiar from Zabbar, known as Simon tal-Gass and a business associate of Gilbert Bonnici.

The Public Contracts Review Board will now decide on the objections filed on this tender. Its members are all appointed by the government.

However, the PCRB decision can still be contested and decided by the Court of Appeal if the objectors decide to pursue the issue.

On several occasions during the past years, the Court eventually revoked the decision taken by the PCRB.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

What are the competences of the Public Review Board?
Who produced the specifications of the Incineration Plant with all that is required to make it 100% safe and fail safe?
Who decided to place it in the middle of Malta were all people residing in the chimney fumes paths will be exposed for long years to poisonous cancerous chemicals ?
The huge differences between the different offers for the same specification indicates deliberate selection of low quality safety systems and short cuts .
Anybody made a one to one analysis of the technical specifications written in the contract quotations?
My experience in any equipment that on paper seems to be equivalent , are found to be total crap when seen in detail. The competence of the TECHNICAL review board should be known and respected by their peers. Political appointees to be kept out.

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago

Getting right first time is certainly not applicable in Malta.
Foreign independent experts in this sector, should be brought in to evaluate the competing bids.
The Finance Ministry should ensure that there are NO extra funds requested by the winning bidder.
WasteServ’s duty is to ensure that the project has a fixed start date and a fixed completion date.
Again foreign experts in the field should be called in to ensure that the standards promised are kept.

1 month ago

Another “Vitals” in the making.

Mark Debono
Mark Debono
1 month ago

While hiring Malta’s most prominent legal firms, the government insists that all was done above board and according to international standards.

Yes and most of the labour government and the PN are mostly made of lawyers and legal minds yet everyday they are found to be involved in some way in corruption? So we know how that ends up.

1 month ago

The final cost will not be this one. Normal process of deviations with additional costs will ensure that Bonnici Group will not run this at a loss.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kurt

Related Stories

Architect, lawyer, planning consultant Musumeci now advising on pensions too
Robert Musumeci, an architect, lawyer, and recipient of multiple
Changes to asset freeze law divide legal opinion
Recently proposed changes to economic crime laws related to

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo