The government launched a public consultation on a “radical change” at the Land Department following the Gaffarena scandal which led to the resignation of planning parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon.

One of the consultants on the reform is architect Robert Musumeci, who serves as a consultant to the Office of the Prime Minister on Mepa. He recently appeared on TV on behalf of the Labour Party defending Dr Falzon’s actions.

Asked how Mr Musumeci could be part of such an important reform when he had publicly said Dr Falzon did nothing wrong in the Gaffarena land expropriation deal, new Planning Parliamentary Secretary Deborah Schembri distanced herself from his comments. She specified that Mr Musumeci was acting as the reform’s technical consultant.

“Together with Mr Musumeci there are another two consultants helping me on this reform. Mr Musumeci is an adviser to the Prime Minister and I have full trust in his technical abilities,” she said.

Together with Mr Musumeci there are another two consultants helping me on this reform

Asked whether Mr Musumeci was also Dr Falzon’s consultant on the Land Department, Dr Schembri insisted he was advising the Prime Minister.

The public, Mr Musumeci said in a presentation on the reform, was being invited to give its opinion on how the department should be revamped, including through its transformation into a regulator.

He said certain decisions could not continue to be rubber stamped by politicians but had to be madein line with clear technical and transparent guidelines.

Dr Schembri said the need for a reform had long been felt because the department had failed to render a good service to the public. She said that, while until a few years ago nothing had been done despite various scandals, the government was now determined to turn a new page.

Asked about various issues connected with the Gaffarena scandal, Dr Schembri said that what happened should not be repeated and that was why the government had embarked on the new set-up.

She defended the Prime Minster over the initiation of a court case against the department in an attempt to recoup the €3.2 million in cash and land given to Mark Gaffarena, adding the government was doing its best to win the case.

Asked who would carry responsibility if the case was lost, Dr Schembri replied: “We are trying to win the case. If it’s lost ask me then.”