Fort Chambray: Government to allow developer to make millions from transfer of public land

The government will allow Gozitan developer Michael Caruana to negotiate (sell) large tracts of public land to third parties (other businessmen) after he failed to honour parts of the public concession he was awarded in 2005 to develop Fort Chambray in Gozo.

The Shift is informed that Robert Abela’s government is proposing an amendment to the original concession through a parliamentary resolution to be tabled by Lands Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi in parliament.

The amendment would allow Caruana, better known as ‘il-Billi’, to transfer part of the concession to a group of unnamed Maltese businessmen.

The transfer of public land is only allowed if parliament agrees through a simple majority. If the parliamentary resolution to be presented is approved, Caruana could cash in millions while the government would not earn a cent.

When Caruana failed to meet the targets set in the concession, the government had the option of taking back public land. Yet it chose to sit idly for years on a project long overdue.

The original deal failed

In 2005, a parliamentary resolution allowed Michael Caruana to take over an 87-year concession to develop Fort Chambray into apartments and a hotel.

While Caruana built a few residences and sold them, allowing an initial return on investment, the hotel that was supposed to be built within four years from the permit issue, never materialised.

At the same time, some apartments were abandoned and left in shell form for years with no development prospects as the business venture ran out of funds.

Michael Caruana, known as ‘il-Billi’, failed to meet the targets imposed in the concession.

Instead of starting procedures to take back the land as envisaged in the original deed of the concession, the government left the concession idle for years until Caruana started private negotiations with other businessmen to sell ‘his’ public concession to them to complete the project.

Apart from the size of the land – around 14 football grounds – Fort Chambray has historical value. It is a bastioned fort in the precincts of Għajnsielem, Gozo, built in the mid-18th century by the Order of Saint John.

The parliamentary resolution does not state the names of the third parties in negotiations with Caruana or his return on the deal involving public land worth hundreds of millions.

Who will be taking over?

Earlier this year, The Shift revealed private negotiations conducted by Michael Caruana to sell the failed concession, revealing those involved in negotiations with him.

They include Francesco Grima, known as ‘il-Gigu’, Vince Borg (road construction contractors V&C and Bitmac), known as Ċensu n-Nizz, Ninu Fenech and his sons from TUM Invest, Oliver Brownrigg of BT Group and Mario Gauci of Burmarrad Commercials.

When contacted last year over speculation that he was about to sell his public concession, Caruana admitted that he was negotiating but denied it was a done deal.

In the meantime, even before parliament discussed amending the original deed, the soon-to-be owners of the concession had already filed an application with the Planning Authority to build more apartments and residential units and a new commitment to complete a 100-bed hotel at Fort Chambray.

The PN has representatives on the parliamentary committee (National Audit Office Accounts Committee) that will determine the outcome. Yet its position on the latest government proposal to allow Caruana and the new concession buyers to speculate on public land is unclear.

                           

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11 Comments
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wenzu
wenzu
24 days ago

What belongs to the public evidently does NOT belong to the public, just to the members of the local Mafia.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
24 days ago

Millions out of thin air – and after a complete failure to carry out contracted obligations!

“It’s a fine life’ sings Nancy in the musical “Oliver”. And how!

Carmelo borg
24 days ago

TAL PN QAQOCCA WAHDA.
FEJN JIDHLU IL FLUS MA HEMMX SKANDLI ZEPPP

Paolo Soldi
Paolo Soldi
24 days ago

This is the proof that Abela start listening the Maltese. What a joker.

makjavel
makjavel
24 days ago

and 10% goes to?????

Gerald Goodwin
Gerald Goodwin
24 days ago

So this is the way out PM and new la our listens, after all the empty promise of just a week ago, this is just another hospital scandal in the making

Andrew Bezzina
Andrew Bezzina
24 days ago

Businessmen who continually fail on there obligations can no longer be rewarded in this way. This amendment cannot stand. The government must represent the people and not the friends of friends.

Martin
Martin
24 days ago

Tar raba sular.?

Pony Express
Pony Express
24 days ago

Tajba din. Ma rnexxilux IMMA xorta se jsir miljunarju (b’inqas tahbit)…….minn art tal- poplu. Insomma: il-poplu sar jaf jitkellem……bil-vot. il-politici bla bla bla tlett darbiet kulljum, is-sena kollha. Bil-haqq: tinsewx twahhluh multa ta issa.

Geoffrey Attard
Geoffrey Attard
23 days ago

Should it not be in the hands of Heritage Malta?

Philip
Philip
23 days ago

Money talks, Malta’s logo

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