The Malta Independent 12 December 2018, Wednesday

PA board chairman had no say in decision to fly in board member on private jet

Albert Galea Friday, 12 October 2018, 10:37 Last update: about 3 months ago

The chairman of the Planning Authority board Vince Cassar had no say in the decision to fly in board member Jacqueline Gili by private jet for the vote on the db Group project last month.

PA Executive Chairperson Johann Buttigieg earlier this week said on Xtra on TVM that Cassar had been informed about the decision and that he had raised no objection to it.

In reply to questions sent by the Malta Independent on Cassar’s involvement in the decision, a spokesperson for the PA said that Cassar had been informed of the decision, which was taken by Buttigieg, and that since the decision had already been taken he had chosen not to comment on it.

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The spokesperson said that the decision had been taken by Buttigieg to ensure that the full complement of the board was present for the vote.

Cassar later spoke out against the decision to fly Gili in for the vote, a trip which cost the PA

€8,750, saying that it was “unprecedented” that a board member was flown in purposely in such a manner.

The decision to hire a private jet to fly Gili into the country from a family holiday in Sicily at such an expense produced an outcry, with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat criticising the decision and Opposition Leader Adrian Delia calling for an independent inquiry into the matter.

The Ombudsman has also opened an investigation into the decision to hire the jet following a request by former Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Arnold Cassola.  Cassola had asked the Ombudsman to examine whether the decision was a case of maladministration and whether it was discriminatory towards applications and objectors in other cases when no such measures were taken.

The vote for which Gili was flown in, the highly controversial mega-development that will be carried out by the db Group on the old ITS site in Pembroke, passed with 10 votes in favour and 4 against.

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