News | Sunday, 20 September 2009

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Labour to present motion on Delimara tender

The Opposition gave notice of a motion in Parliament condemning Infrastructure Minister Austin Gatt over the award of the Delimara power station extension contract.
Labour whip Joe Mizzi called on the Prime Minister to take action against the forthcoming controversial extension of the power station.
The tender was awarded to Danish firm BWSC for a diesel-engine turbine for the power station, which will have to be converted to gas in future. Rival bidders Ido Hutney-Bateman Projeckt claim their own combined-cycle gas turbine was cheaper than BWSC’s, and filed a judicial protest.
The Labour party said it disagreed with government on its choice to award the tender since the “contract was contaminated by unethical behaviour on BWSC’s part as well as on its consultant Joseph Mizzi.”
Mizzi, a former Enemalta official, was allegedly a middleman representing BWSC, but so far has not denied claims by Labour MP Evarist Bartolo that he used his influence on Enemalta officials in BWSC’s interests.
Labour expressed its concern on the decision to go ahead with a plant working on diesel combined cycle, saying this “contrasts with what Minister Austin Gatt declared in June 2006 that all new power station plants must instead work on gas combined cycle.”

The motion also condemned Gatt for allowing plans for the extension of the power station to fall behind so much that “in the coming months, there may be an increase in electricity outages due to supply not keeping up with demand. So that BWSC could win the tender, government changed local environment laws so that higher levels of pollution are allowed,” Labour said.
The PL said the relaxation of the emission limits gave out the wrong message, contrasting with government plans for the provision of electricity between 2006 and 2015.
It added that the new plant will be requiring an investment of more than €24 million so that it is eventually converted to gas. “The new plant will produce at least 31 tonnes of toxic waste and 1 tonne of sludge a day which will induce new costs upon the consumer for the disposal of such waste.
“The plant chosen will also occupy a lot of space at Delimara, both because of the machinery itself but also due to the storage of tonnes of chemicals needed to purify waste,” the PL said, warning that the decision will further increase utility tariffs.
In a statement released by the Ministry for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications yesterday afternoon, Minister Austin Gatt denied Labour’s claims of any irregularities in the award given to BWSC.
The choice of BWSC, Gatt said, was intended to cut costs in utility tariffs, while fully conforming to the international norms on environment and quality of air. “This is confirmed by the fact that none of the bidders appealed at any stage of the tender process,” he added. “Instead, the company that was not awarded the tender found [Labour leader] Joseph Muscat speaking on its behalf.”
Gatt assured that “the electricity supply in Malta is sufficient, and there are no delays in the implementation of energy resources on the island.”
With regard to environmental laws, Gatt countered Labour’s claims, saying that such laws are in full conformity to European norms.
“The cost to switch the new plant to gas, if this will ever happen, was considered when it transpired that the technology chosen by government is the cheapest and the one with least impact on the consumer,” Gatt said.
The same argument applied to the expenditure of storage and exportation of waste. “The spend on the storage and exportation was considered in choosing the cheapest technology, and the one with the lowest impact on consumer bills. The pollution filtering system is also a proven technology and not an experiment to be tried in Malta.”
In a statement issued later in the evening, the PL said that the Prime Minister should have no objection in bringing the motion up for debate if Minister Austin Gatt was so certain in his argumentation.


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