Private jet that brought board member to Malta for DB vote cost PA €8,750

The Planning Authority said it wanted to make sure that all board members were present for the meeting since it was a ‘high profile case’ and that the executive chairperson required no further endorsements by government

Contracts Department employee and PA board member Jacqueline Gili was flown in by private jet to give her approval to the City Centre project
Contracts Department employee and PA board member Jacqueline Gili was flown in by private jet to give her approval to the City Centre project

The Planning Authority spent €8,750 on a private jet to bring PA Board member Jacqueline Gili to Malta to vote in last Thursday’s vote which approved a permit for the db Group’s City Centre project in Pembroke.

The decision by the PA board to approve the DB group’s 38-storey high-rise hotel with 10 votes to four, angered residents of Pembroke, whose Labour-led council opposed the project.

Yesterday it was revealed by Newsbook that Gili had been flown in on a private jet from a holidy in Siciliy before the vote on the controversial project, despite the fact that there was no necessity for all members to be present. The board's chairman Vince Cassar described the move as an unprecedented one.

PN leader Adrian Delia has been quoted as calling for an independent inquiry into the case, while a spokesperson for the Prime Minister was quoted saying that the government did not agree with the PA’s decision.

The receipt for the flight sent by the Planning Authority
The receipt for the flight sent by the Planning Authority

In a statement issued on Wedneday afternoon however, the PA defended itself saying that back in August 2016, when a similar high-rise planning application was approved, “much criticism had been levelled at a board member who for medical reasons was not able to be present”.

“The Authority felt that the City Centre project was a high profile case and carried the same magnitude and importance as that of other high-rise projects,” the PA said.

READ MORE: PA member jetted in to vote in favour of DB high-rise was absent on 29 decisions in 2017

“For this reason, the authority wanted to make sure that all the Planning Board members were present for the public meeting.

The PA said that when the date for the meeting was communicated to the board members, 15 days before it was scheduled to take place, Gili had informed the authority that she was going to be away on a family vacation.

“For the sake of transparency, we should clarify that City Centre, as developers, paid an application fee of over €1.2 million. The public meeting outside the premises of the Planning Authority did not exceed €25,000,” the PA said.

 

READ MORE: ‘Flying in PA board member is unprecedented’ - chairman Vince Cassar

“The cost associated with the public meeting included the hire of the venue, sound, stage, security and a police presence and other logistical requirements…In view that the amounts were within the limit that can be authorised by the executive chairperson, no further endorsements were required by government.”

CEO had no right to authorise payment - PD 

Reacting to the PA’s statement, Partit Demokratiku insisted that PA CEO Johann Buttigieg had “no right” to use public funds to make private jet arrangements for Gili, “even if the quoted expense is within his remit”.

“It is not up to the executive of the PA to interfere with the workings of the board, as Chairman Vince Cassar has made clear,” the PD said.

The party quested why it was the PA felt it was so necessary for Gili to attend the hearing, while also noting that the representative on the PA Board, Matthew Pace, given his “involvement in the sale of luxury apartments from the planned ITS mega complex”.

It called on authorities to halted due to these irregularities.

“Developers are not clients of the PA, and should not be treated as customers at the expense of the general public,” the PD said.

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