The agreement on the landscaping of public areas should have been dissolved because of contract breaches, but instead it was prolonged, in spite of the fact that contract rates for landscaping public areas were not favourable to government, the National Audit Office warned today.

The government has spent over €100 million had been spent since the agreement with the Environmental Landscapes Consortium Ltd was signed in 2002.

“The government’s monitoring arm is understaffed and cannot cope with the administrative and operational burdens associated with this material PPP. As a result, monitoring is reactionary and government’s enforcement is weak. In the circumstances, government’s position shifted from one where action could have been initialised to dissolve this public/private partnership agreement, to one where prolonged weak enforcement implied tacit consent,” the report tabled today in Parliament says.

Government’s position shifted from one where action could have been initialised to dissolve this public/private partnership agreement, to one where prolonged weak enforcement implied tacit consent

“Questions arise regarding the financial and economic considerations revolving around this public/private partnership. Matters could have been exacerbated since neither the original 2002 agreement nor the two subsequent contract extensions were awarded through competitive tendering,” it said.

“Government did not always reap the full benefits in terms of sites serviced since the footprint capacity of landscaping maintenance as provided for by the contract remained not fully utilised. This ultimately led to government incurring additional expenses as ELC, and to a lesser extent other suppliers, were awarded other contracts where the possibility existed for such works to be undertaken through this PPP agreement,” the NAO said.

The report said that the contractor’s breached contractual provisions, including failure to seek authorisation from the Malta Embellishment and Landscaping Project (MELP) Monitoring Unit prior to effecting changes in deliverables, as well as failure to get insurance to cover landscaping operations and a bank guarantee intended to serve as a performance bond.

This Report, in its entirety, may be accessed through the NAO website, as well as on the NAO Facebook page.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us