Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri has replaced five of ten Planning Authority Board members and placed his friend and former consultant into another key role, according to information published in the Government Gazette.
The appointments happened shortly after Prime Minister Robert Abela made the unusual decision to hand Camilleri responsibility for the Planning Authority, in charge of deciding on developments and construction projects and issuing permits.
Camilleri replaced half of the board, and one of his most trusted loyalists, architect Godwin Agius, was appointed to the executive council, which prepares all background work for sensitive planning applications.
Veteran Planning Authority officials told The Shift that Camilleri’s trusted associates being placed into key decision-making positions in the regulator means that applications related to Gozitans Joseph Portelli and Francesco Grima, known as il-Gigu, could enjoy preferential treatment due to their personal relations with Camilleri.
Clint’s men in Floriana
While the Planning Authority’s executive council is already controlled directly by the prime minister, through Oliver Magro – a former person of trust of Abela at Castille – Clint Camilleri now added his own person of trust, Godwin Agius.
Considered one of Camilleri’s closest friends, Agius is a former consultant to the minister and was recently given a new job as a senior project manager at the Gozo Regional Development Authority.
Although he lives in Malta, Agius’s office is in Gozo, but according to GRDA sources, he is rarely present at his place of work.
Agius is well-connected in Labour Party circles and has served on various government boards, including Gozo Channel Operations Ltd, the Construction Industry Licensing Committee, and Transport Malta.
He has also received various direct orders from the Gozo Ministry, mostly related to road projects.
The five new members of the Planning Board are also closely connected to Clint Camilleri.
Architect Andrew Ellul has worked on various government projects and received multiple direct orders. His wife, Elizabeth Ellul, made a name for a number of questionable planning permits she issued to Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli and others while she served as chairperson of the ODZ Planning Commission.
The Elluls spend most of their weekends in a Gozitan flat in Nadur, which they bought from Portelli.
Charles Hili is a former postman Camilleri appointed as manager of the Gozo Museum Project, which has been under construction for years, quadrupling in cost while remaining in shell form.
Another former person of trust in Camilleri’s secretariat and a site technical officer at the infamous new Gozo Channel offices in Mgarr, Joseph Tabone, has also been appointed to the board.
Other new appointees include Gozitans Mario Borg, the CEO of the Gozo Regional Development Authority, and lawyer Marica Borg.
Borg is the daughter of Minister Anton Refalo’s former chief canvasser Raymond Borg, known as ‘Ix-Xitan’. As a Gozo Channel employee, he was involved in a series of scandals, including theft of proceeds from ferry tickets and giving instructions to a ship captain to re-berth a vessel so that Refalo could be picked up after he arrived late.