Updated - Adds minister's denial of claims - The Opposition this evening requested an explanation from the prime minister over allegations made in an article on Daphne Caruana Galizia's blog that Economic Affairs Minister Chris Cardona has been living in an apartment in Portomoaso made available to him for free by a person involved in the consortium awarded the power station contract by the government.

Speaking in Parliament, Opposition MP Beppe Fenech Adami said he was requesting a statement by the prime minister about whether he had investigated this claim and whether what was taking place amounted to good governance, more so after the protests raised in the last legislature when a then minister went abroad to watch a football match with a businessman. 

Dr Fenech Adami observed that rent of a Portomaso apartment amounted between €2,000 and €3,500 a month. 

The Nationalist MP also observed that according to the article, Dr Cardona, along with his chief of staff, during office hours was frequenting a bar, called The Stable where according to the article, was frequented by people of dubious character, even criminals, and there allegedly was drug abuse.

Had the prime minister verified the report, would he confirm or deny it?

Replying, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he wanted to make just one point - Ms Caruana Galizia had been at this place accompanied by a Nationalist MEP.

Dr Fenech Adami said Ms Caruana Galizia had gone there precisely to look for Dr Cardona, and MEP David Casa had accompanied her. 

He said the prime minister should explain, so that the people could judge Dr Cardona and how he respected his office. 

MINISTER'S DENIAL

In a statement issued four hours after the exchanges in Parliament, Dr Cardona said he was denying the claims made by Dr Fenech Adami, who, he said, had used parliamentary immunity to repeat mistaken information published by Ms Caruana Galizia.

Dr Cardona said he was publishing the contract of rent for a one bedroom flat of less than 100 square metres in Portomaso for which he paid rent of €1,400 per month, the average rent for this type of property. The contract came into force on December 1,2014 and is valid for 10 months.

Dr Cardona said the landlord did not form part of the consortium involved in the power station project.

He said the PN was associating itself with a blogger known for the way she made allegations without proof. He said the PN should dissociate itself from the allegations and Ms Caruana Galizia.

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