The managing director of Palumbo Shipyard has joined other entrepreneurs complaining about bureaucracy, saying the company has been waiting for months to be issued permits for restructuring work.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Antonio Palumbo laments the red tape that “weighs down on business” and the high cost of electricity.

He also speaks about his disillusion when realising that the super yacht facility, which the company bought eight months ago, was nowhere near the picture of excellence it was made out to be.

Mr Palumbo joins the chief executives of three other major manufacturing plants who two weeks ago told The Times Business that bureaucracy and energy costs were hindering further investment.

“There is a lot of diseconomy,” Mr Palumbo says when asked about his experience with bureaucracy since taking over Malta Shipyards 17 months ago.

Mr Palumbo says that the shipyard applied for the necessary permits to carry out some restructuring works on the site but despite paying the fees the company is still waiting.

“The jobs are not out of this world and it would normally take us 30 days to get the necessary authorisation,” he says.

He raises similar concerns about the cost of electricity and says the company had paid some €2 million in utility bills over the past 17 months.

“It is impossible for a shipyard trying to compete in a globalised economy that is crumbling to have such a high energy cost,” he says.

Giving an overview of his experience in Malta to date, Mr Palumbo says the shipyard employs more than 100 Maltese workers but he does not specify whether they are employed on short-term contracts.

He insists the company has until now honoured all its contractual obligations with the government and dispels doubts cast by some that Palumbo has not poured in the money it committed to invest when signing the deal.

Mr Palumbo says the shipyard has serviced 250 ships but admits that not all were important jobs.

On the super yacht facility, he says it came to them as “a big negative surprise”.

“We were told that the super yacht facility was a centre of excellence but this was not the case and this left us disillusioned,” he says.

The Italian firm officially took over the Malta Shipyards in June 2010, on a 30- year lease. The move represented a major milestone in the ’ Yard’s 40- year history after recent decades were characterised by losses to the tune of € 25 million a year.

Palumbo will pay the government €90 million over the span of the lease, which, at a discounted rate, would amount to just over €50 million if paid today.

The deal included an undertaking on the part of Palumbo to invest some €30 million of which €23.5 million should be spent in the first five years of operation.

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