Did I say gullible? More extraordinary news today as the Sadeen University (I’m not falling for the American crap) saga continues to unfold. The story in the Times under the headline “University plan viable only with the use of ODZ land” is particularly intriguing (read the text of the story below). We are told that a government source has confirmed that the American University project is only viable if ODZ land is used because the land there is cheaper “and that is the price government is prepared to pay”. Government? Pay? Really? Here’s just a few of our observations:
1. The mask has fallen quickly on this one. Much quicker than it ever did on the Citizenship Scheme and Henley and Partners. The words “American” and “University” failed to constitute sufficient snake oil to lubricate the painful reality of the truth: Public land that is not designated for development would be raped and the little private owners involved will make a killing thanks to Labour’s sale. Education has nothing to do with this. This is pure and simple speculation of the ugliest kind. Muscat is the construction industry’s messiah and it does not cost his pocket one thing. It’s the public and its land that will pay the price.
2. Investment? What investment? Since when does attracting foreign investment involve “the price government is prepared to pay”? Not only are we allowing foreign constructors to rape our nation’s limited surface resources but we are paying for it. Isn’t that brilliant? Taghna Lkoll my backside.
3. “The land will be given to the investors, Sadeen Group, through a concession on temporary emphyteusis authorised by a parliamentary resolution. It is not yet known how long the period will be. The contract for the land will stipulate that it can only be used for educational purposes.” Sweet. For an undefined period we are giving away yet another chunk (90k square metres) of our land. The inclusion of a derisory clause limiting the use to educational purposes can only be seen in the light of the recent arse-minded decisions in the domain of planning including Michael Falzon’s “this is not an amnesty”. So much for a guarantee.
4. The university and american bit might be too complicated for mere mortals to be able to assess the extent of the travesty. Let’s imagine a parallel scenario. Muscat announces that the Sejfeddin Group is willing to invest a billion euros to build a leisure resort on Comino. Present at the launching are two senior managers from Disney World Paris who, it turns out, were paid a handsome fee by Sejfeddin Group to provide designs for the new resort based on their experience. Announcing the Disneyish Resort of Malta, Muscat informs the general public that an area amounting to three quarters of Comino including the Blue Lagoon and St. Mary’s Bay will be handed over to the Sejfeddin Group under temporary emphyteusis. There are no real alternatives to this since Comino was the only plan that would make the Disney Resort viable. All that is missing from this fictitious example is the sale of a few patches of land owned by persons linked to Labour. Spiffing isn’t it? Then we could truly say that this is a pajjiz tal-Mickey Mouse.
The new American university in the south has to be built on land in an outside development zone or the project will not be financially viable, a government source has confirmed. Any ODZ land being used for agriculture has a much lower value than land allocated for development, and that is the price government is prepared to pay. The land required is 90,000 square metres – the site identified is mostly public land, which also brings down the cost.
But 10,000 square metres of the total consists of seven areas of privately owned land, which lies at the centre. The owners include people renowned during the era of controversial former public works Labour minister Lorry Sant: Michael Axisa (il-Lay Lay), Piju Camilleri, Joe Chetcuti, Norman Clews, Joe Formosa, Joe Camilleri, Paul Abela and Manuel Farrugia.
The land will be given to the investors, Sadeen Group, through a concession on temporary emphyteusis authorised by a parliamentary resolution. It is not yet known how long the period will be. The contract for the land will stipulate that it can only be used for educational purposes. It is understood the government has made an offer to each landowner within the assigned area and is awaiting an answer from the individuals involved. The negotiations are not easy, but the government always has the option to expropriate land.