Parliament on Wednesday formally transferred Sliema seafront land to the Fortina Group, which has already built a lido there in front of its hotel and plans to set up a yacht marina.

A motion for the transfer of the site was backed by government MPs, with the Opposition voting against.

The land transfer was debated last week within the parliamentary National Audit Office Accounts Committee, which heard how Fortina had already occupied the site and even reclaimed land from the sea.

Economy Minister Silvio Scehmbri defended Fortina’s behaviour and asked the committee to sign off on the illegalities, against a €70,000 fine, so that the formal transfer could go ahead.

The Opposition objected to the transfer, insisting that the area, popular among beach-goers, should not be turned into a marina.

In reply to Times of Malta questions a spokesperson from Fortina Group did not explain why it illegally reclaimed territory from the sea, but said that the company already owned “most of the land” and obtained a permit to square off the lido by reclaiming a further 356 square metres of territory and another 148 square metres for public access.

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