PA to approve five more years of irregular Ta’ Qali conventions tent

The temporary two-year permit was originally issued in 2006.


The large tent structure next to the Ta’ Qali football stadium, which has become known as the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre (MFCC), will be granted another five years of existence through a new ‘temporary’ permit by the Planning Authority.

The tent, which is part of the Corinthia Group, was originally built temporarily in 2006 on the condition that a fully functional permanent Conventions Centre was to be built through private investment.

Eighteen years later, the private investment never materialised, and the Planning Authority is set to grant a new ‘temporary’ permit to keep the private business going for another five years while sanctioning several new illegalities against a paltry fine of approximately €50,000.

Five years after the application (PA02872/19) was filed, the Planning Authority is poised to approve Corinthia’s request to sanction several illegalities. These include a perimeter fence, gates, substations, a car park and other tents.

The government frequently uses the tent for many of its activities, the latest being a public service week ‘convention’ scheduled for this week. The tent was also the main venue of the Labour Party’s final mass rally before the 2022 general election.

It is unclear whether the Labour Party paid for the tent’s use as Corinthia normally charges tens of thousands of euros per day for hiring it.

MFCC’s long history of temporary permits and illegalities.

In its latest justification for awarding MFCC another temporary permit, the Planning Authority’s directorate that recommends a ‘grant permission’ said that it had no objection to the sanctioning since the area is already designated for a convention centre and the permit is still temporary.

“In view that the proposal is in line with the designated land use of the area and the proposed additions are ancillary to the existing use, there is no objection to the proposed development,” the directorate said.

Repeating the same conditions it had imposed in past renewal permits, which were never respected by the tent’s owners, the directorate insisted that “a condition is being included where the proposal is valid for a five-year period where before the expiry of this period, a full development application shall be required to be submitted to assess the comprehensive development of the site in accordance with the conditions as listed in Policy NWTQ 36 of the Ta’ Qali Action Plan.”

‘Temporary’ tent lasting 18 years and counting

The large tent was the brainchild of entrepreneur Reuben Caruana and was built using public land for two years in 2006 to replace the Naxxar Trade Fair Centre, which had just closed its doors.

At the time, the PN administration said the tent was only temporary until a new private Convention Centre was built. The large parcel of land was given to the tent operators on an encroachment basis for less than €20,000 a year.

The promised investment never occurred, and the Planning Authority renews the permit every few years. The tent was also used illegally when the temporary permits expired and were left unaddressed.

In the meantime, the business venture changed hands several times and has now ended in the full ownership of a company controlled by Corinthia.

So far, despite the latest recommendation to renew the tent’s permit again, Corinthia has not announced any intention of building a permanent Conventions Centre as obliged.


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Pony Express
Pony Express
7 days ago

Made simple: money talks.

7 days ago

…. just like the Gafferena petrol station in Qormi?

6 days ago

And what happened during 2006 and 2013? I am totally unbiased with regards to politics as both gave me hard time. But the PN did renew the permit, even though it expired. So as Pony Express said: Money Talks!

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