The planning authority had been hijacked by its CEO who was directly appointing members on promotions board, Opposition spokesman Ryan Callus said today.

Speaking during a debate on the authority’s estimates, Mr Callus said he had sought to learn who was appointing the members of these boards in a parliamentary question but had been denied an answer.

It was then that he sought the information from the Mepa board, which he formed part of.

He said that during a sitting, the chairman insisted that it was Mr Buttigieg who was appointing the members.

Mr Buttigieg, Mr Callus said, then guided the board not to accept his request to be told who sat on these boards, saying these people should not be exposed.

This stank and it was obscene that his request was put to a vote, Mr Callus said, pointing out that most of the people on the promotions board were themselves Mepa board members.

It was a major conflict of interest that these same people were asked to vote on his request.

The Mepa board, Mr Callus said, had become like a communist entity, from where it was impossible to get any information.

And it was only natural that when one was met with such resistance, one concluded that something stank.

Mr Callus referred to appeals by 19 workers who claimed they had suffered an injustice in promotions.

It was shameful that when the board concluded that an injustice had actually been made with nine workers, it referred the cases to the appeals board instead of taking action, saying it did not have enough information.

Mr Callus referred to the case of Ronnie Vella, who, he said, was given two promotions in two years and was now undermining the authority’s impartiality.

It was unacceptable that Mr Vella, who was very close to the CEO, informed applicants what was said in private board meetings and passed on information to developers or applicants behind the board’s back. It was unacceptable for Mr Vella to tell applicants, “this is coming from your friend who represents your party,” Mr Callus said.

Mr Vella is not only a spy, but was also undermining the authority and intimidating the Opposition, attempting to prevent it from carrying out its duties.

In choosing Mr Vella for his post, Mr Callus said, the CEO had been unjust with others including a graduate who had experience in the authority.

Mr Vella had been given preference because he had been working in the CEO’s office for a year, a position given to him directly and without a call.

Mr Callus also spoke on Marisa Darmanin, who, he said, had been given two promotions in one day.

He said that some weeks ago, when the board was discussing an application for an apartment building block, someone noted that this was nearly completely built.

The obscenity was that while Mepa was considering the application, no one from the authority knew that this block had been built without a permit.

Pointing out he was not convinced Mepa did not know about the development, Mr Callus said it was strange that only minutes after the illegality had been brought to the board’s attention, the developer was already in the Mepa building and seen speaking confidentially with Ms Darmanin.

Earlier, shadow minister Marthese Portelli spoke on the university planned at Zonqor Point and asked why had the Environment Directorate was not consulted on the matter.

She said that while Mepa’s CEO had the right discuss the heads of agreement, Parliament did not.

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