Dar Malta, the building in Brussels bought by the government to house its EU Permanent Representation, will open its doors on Monday.

Workers from the Belgian construction company Blaton were yesterday dismantling the scaffolding on the 13-storey building as more than 50 Maltese officials were packing their documents and other belongings to move to the new offices.

Situated just metres away from the European Commission's headquarters, the building will also house the Maltese Embassy to Belgium.

The government plans to lease almost half of Dar Malta to private firms and other third parties to generate income to compensate for the capital investment.

Government sources told The Times the move from the current leased offices in Rue Belliard to the new offices in Rue Archimede started yesterday and will continue around the clock over the weekend.

Maltese officials at the Permanent Representation will spend the weekend at work to make sure everything is in place by Monday.

The Permanent Representation and the embassy will be occupying the top five floors of the building leaving another four floors and space in the three-storey underground garage for leasing.

The extra floors to be leased on short-term contracts will be used when Malta assumes special EU functions, such as the presidency.

Renovation works started last March and have completely transformed the building into a modern office block.

A high security system and a communications link-up between the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Valletta and the Permanent Representation in Brussels have been installed.

The building was bought in June 2004 for Lm9 million, which included the cost of refurbishment. The opposition had criticised the high cost involved, saying there was no need to purchase a building so centrally located.

Asked whether the budget for the refurbishment was adhered to, the government sources said the final cost is the one that had been forecast, except for inflation.

The project has been coordinated by a committee under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance in Malta.

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