A Gozo Ministry project to provide temporary shelter for Gozitan students and relatives of patients recovering in Malta has already cost taxpayers €2.1 million, is still unfinished, and is five years late.
Replying to questions by Gozitan Nationalist Party MP Chris Said, Gozo and Planning Minister Clint Camilleri admitted that the budget and timeline for refurbishing Villa Lauri in Birkirkara have been exceeded.
According to figures presented in parliament, Camilleri said, so far, the government has spent €1.6 million on work in addition to almost €500,000 paid to its owners in leases – the Franciscan Province of St Paul the Apostle, better known as the O.F.M.
The minister said that tens of thousands of euro are necessary to complete the project, including a new tender for the provision of furniture that has not yet been issued.
Still, the minister insisted that the project is still on the agenda, with a new opening date of October 2024.
She had said that a total of €1 million was to be spent on rehabilitating the villa to turn it into a 33-bed facility for its Gozitan guests. She announced the site would be open in 2020.
However, since then, works under the supervision of architect Frank Muscat have been conducted at a slowly and have not yet been completed.
Caruana has previously engaged Muscat on several projects, giving him a raft of direct orders when she was parliamentary secretary and then Gozo minister.
The Gozo Ministry has become known for delays and over-budgeted projects, and none of its major projects have been completed on time.
Some pending projects include a home for the elderly in Għajnsielem, an aquatic centre in Rabat, the re-building of an arterial road in Nadur and a new Gozo Hospital.
All of the delayed projects are believed to have gone significantly over budget to the tune of millions of euro.