The Malta Independent 7 May 2021, Friday

‘Fact that the PL copied our energy proposals shows we’re setting country’s agenda’ – Ryan Callus

INDEPTH online Sunday, 28 February 2021, 08:19 Last update: about 3 months ago

Electrogas: ‘We are bound to a crazy contract’

The fact that the PL has taken energy proposals from the PN shows that the PN “is setting the agenda for the country”, PN MP Ryan Callus said on this week’s edition of Indepth.  

The PN’s spokesman on energy was interviewed by The Malta Independent’s Editor-in-Chief Neil Camilleri on the party’s energy proposals, and the criticism they received from the Labour Party.

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The PL said the proposals were “old or recycled” and not costed. 

“It is poor criticism from Labour's part. When the PL said that our proposals are not costed, it tried to indicate that they are not viable. So that is why it is hypocritical criticism to a certain extent because today, Miriam Dalli announced one of these proposals that we proposed.”

Callus was referring to the solar panel scheme, where 7.5c is received for every unit generated from solar panels sold to Enemalta. 

"I am not saying that I am disappointed that the government took this proposal, but it shows that the Government hinted that these proposals were not possible, yet it goes to show that they are so possible that they took this measure on board," he noted.

He also revealed that the solar panels and night tariff for electric vehicles proposals have been costed and would cost less than €10 million.

“This is a cardinal element – the Nationalist Party is setting the agenda for this country. It is evident that we are introducing the proposals. At first, the Government doesn't take notice of them or gives the impression that they cannot be implemented, then they start being applied. They contradicted themselves just a week after.”

Callus pointed out that these plans were discussed with a number of experts and the PN had been working on them for months. “We have a clear idea as to how we want to reach our goals; immediate measures, medium-term ones for 2030, and long-term ones for 2050, where the country needs to halt its usage of fossil fuels to generate energy.”

 

On electricity bills

The PN MP also discussed the anomalies when it comes to electricity bills. It says many people are being charged more than they should be, with the amount varying from one case to another.

“Joseph Muscat had pledged to address these anomalies in 2019 but, two years later, nothing has been done. People are still being robbed. The PN will address this.”

Asked whether there will also be cheaper rates in terms of bills in general, the shadow speaker could not reveal whether this was the case, but pointed out that there will be less money spent by citizens dispersed across different bills, as pointed out in the measures released. "We also proposed to obtain energy from the cheapest source, which will help."

 

 

Electrogas 

Regarding the Electrogas deal, Callus said the public had been bound by a “crazy” contract. This was the same for the hospitals privatisation deal.

"It is no secret; the biggest problem that we have in this sector is that the Government locked us into buying 80% of energy from Electrogas. The first thing the Nationalist Party will do when in government is go through these contracts. These contracts were redacted. The Government is not being transparent,” he remarked.

Callus also said that he’s not the only one pointing this out – the Auditor General had pointed this out, too. "The Auditor General’s investigation – which we requested – found out that from a period of just 6 months we paid €10 million because, despite the interconnector being available, we were bound to buy 80% from Electrogas.”

"So, it is not Ryan Callus that is saying that we are not maximising the usage of the cheapest source – from the interconnector – but the Auditor General, black on white."

He pointed out that the €10 million that the PN is speaking of regarding their proposals could have easily been obtained from these extra €10 million spent with Electrogas.

Callus also noted that Electrogas has been operating since 2017. "Look at how many 6-month periods have passed."

"It is evident that there were instances where we couldn't maximise from the cheapest source. The PL is boasting that they are buying from the cheapest source when in fact Electrogas is the most expensive."

The MP was asked what the PN would do if elected in Government regarding these allegedly corrupt contracts. "In the eventuality that corruption is proved, new legal avenues can be looked at. We all know that from the Panama Papers that 17 Black, owned by the main person behind Electrogas - was going to put money in secret bank accounts of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri. The link between Electrogas, the people in politics, and the Minister of Energy during that time is crystal clear.”

The contracts are being vetted and investigated by the PN, Callus said. “We made demands to the Auditor General regarding how much these have bound us with; which is €400 million. We are bound to a crazy contract, like in the case of the hospitals' deal.” 

“It is evident that the way contracts were made, and the harsh clauses that they bound us with, made it an almost impossible situation to get out of. The politicians that were supposed to see the best interest of the citizen favoured private interests. We will always go for the cheaper option, rather than Electrogas. That is our duty.”

 

Windfarms

The PN MP also addressed the proposals of windfarms and the Government’s failure to obtain European funds for them in time. “This is another failure. Countries like Portugal invested in similar projects thanks to EU and European Investment Bank funds. Why didn't the Government do this in the past 4 years? In Spain it is the same; they announced that they are going to invest in the biggest wind farm in the sea...Scotland the same. My question is: Why were Malta's proposals regarding these introduced now?”

He also cited the suspicious Montenegro windfarm deal. “These people had everything planned on how to gain illicit money from private firms. Today we understand why nowadays there are these problems and why Miriam Dalli does not want to publish the Enemalta’s internal report on the Montenegro deal.”

“She told us that she passed it on to the police commissioner – doesn't that imply that irregularities were found and corruption? Why did they go to Montenegro? Just so someone can become a millionaire from one day to the next? This is a disaster; the energy minister has inherited a total disaster. But the PN does things differently.”

 

Difference in energy sector between PL and PN

“We come up with ideas, we come up with proposals, we set up the agenda for the country, and when the Government notices that they are good proposals, the Government implements them. That is the difference.”

He voiced his positivity by the fact that the PN feels it is making a difference even from the Opposition benches.

“We are happy that from the Opposition we already determining the agenda for our country. We are releasing our strategy, and the Government is realising that – since it is occupied with other issues such as the resignation of Rosianne Cutajar, Montenegro, Electrogas, and other issues – they are ending up the same Government as the one that was four years ago; fighting the problems that it itself created.” 

Callus mentioned the six pillars that were announced on 18th February as part of their energy strategy: to buy and invest from the cheapest source; a preference on energy efficiency; long-term alternative for energy generation; electrification of transportation; investment in the second interconnector and; the investment in a hydrogen ready pipeline.

 

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