A future GSD Government will make public the full terms of the deals entered into by the current GSLP/Liberal Government over the Victoria Keys development. We will also review the arrangements over the development and, if there is any aspect of it that is not in the public interest, a GSD Government would seek to reopen the commercial arrangements or development scheme.
This commitment is necessary because there are questions in relation to the proposed Victoria Keys Development that Government are sweeping under the carpet. These questions will not go away. Serious conflicts of interest issues are apparent, also. which need to be scrutinised and allayed.
The Government are going to commit taxpayer’s monies to fund the reclamation, thereby reducing the economic risk to developers.
It is unclear how much the reclamation will cost and how much of the £300 Million that the Government borrowed against housing estates is to be used, together with to whom the Government will be allocating some of the plots of land.
GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: “It is ironic that the money to finance a luxury development is beingfound by mortgaging housing estates. As we have said previously, this is like Robin Hood in reverse –taking from the poorer to give to the rich. There are serious questions of financial transparency as to the use of public monies and as to the effect on the environment also.”
The terms of the financing deal needs to be published.
If Government has taken a policy decision to use public monies to fund the reclamation for a select consortium of private developers, then such a project should have been put out to competitive tender instead of simply agreeing deals privately with a select and privileged group of developers.
And who are these developers? The precise identity of the developers is unclear. In a Viewpoint programme the Chief Minister mentioned some names but this did not accord with the publicly declared shareholding of the developer company, Harbour Development Limited (“HDL”).
In that same programme the Chief Minister stated that some of these developers were not the same as those who held development rights over Coaling Island prior to 2011. Who are these new investors? HDL was not incorporated before 2016 and the shareholder company did not itself exist before 2017.
If the Government is using taxpayers’ monies to help a few developers it needs to run matters transparently, competitively and reassure the public that there are no serious conflicts of interest.
Two of the four directors of HDL have links with Government Ministers. One of them is the brother of Minister for Financial Services, Albert Isola. Another is a partner in the Hassans law firm with no obvious track record in development. The Chief Minister continues to hold declared interests in companies associated with Hassans or investments arising from the capital in the Hassans legal partnership.
When this is the backdrop and HDL is profiteering with the help of public monies at little economic risk to itself, people need to be reassured that serious conflicts of interest do not exist or arise.
This is why the GSD will make all the Victoria Keys arrangements public if elected to Government, would seek to reopen these in the public interest, as necessary, and would ensure that the future award of public contracts is done transparently and against a set of tough and revised conflicts of interests rules.