The Planning Authority, which is expected to decide on the mega project at the former ITS site in Pembroke on Thursday, says it cannot stop the process pending the outcome of an investigation by the Auditor General.

A spokesman said the law prevented the planning watchdog from halting the process.

“In the processing of planning applications, the PA is bound by legislation to take a decision within set time frames,” he noted, adding that “a planning decision by the authority does not prejudice any other legal action which may be taken”.

The National Audit Office confirmed that the investigation demanded by then Opposition leader Simon Busuttil and confirmed by the Public Accounts Committee had yet to start. The Auditor was asked to investigate how public land was transferred to the db Group in March 2017.

PN leader Adrian Delia, speaking late on Tuesday, said the PN representative on the PA board, Marthese Portelli, will be voting against the project because it is not within regulations. 

A spokesman for the National Audit Office said: “Consistent with the Office’s policy of addressing requests for investigation by the PAC in a chronological manner, the Office is presently engaged in the review of other public contracts relating to requests submitted prior to that concerning the ITS site.”  

Asked whether the Auditor General felt he should ask the PA not to process the application pending the investigation, the spokesman replied it was not in its remit because “the mandate of the Office is delineated in the Constitution and the Auditor General and National Audit Office Act”.

He was also asked about the possibility of illegalities being eventually identified in the manner the government disposed of public land when the project would already be in an advanced stage or even completed. The question remained unanswered.

In a Facebook exchange with former Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Arnold Cassola, the Guardian of Future Generations, Maurice Mizzi, referred to the way the project was handled as “the Maltese method”.

Mr Mizzi said: “It is the job of the government, the Planning Authority and, most of all, the Opposition in order to stop this monstrosity”.

“However, money talks and, apparently, all three above bodies have already given their blessing”, he said in his Facebook post.

Prof. Cassola asked him whether he would be taking a stand on the project “which would impact negatively on future generations”.

Earlier this week, Mr Mizzi described the project as “a sad reminder of the grave anxiety and helplessness than many ordinary people experience when having to deal with deve-lopments of this kind”.

The Mizzi Organisation said Mr Mizzi’s statement as Guardian of Future Generations “should not be construed as reflecting the position of the Mizzi Organisation”. Mr Mizzi sits on the company’s board of directors.

“Mizzi Organization disassociates itself from that statement,” it said.

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