Updated 2.20pm - Added PN statement
PN deputy leader David Agius, who once said the €4.2 million Café Premier bailout “stank of corruption”, today said the project had been turned around “from a controversy to a success”.
Standing side-by-side with Justice Minister Owen Bonnici during the inauguration of the Valletta local council’s new offices at the former Café Premier site, Mr Agius thanked both the council and the government for sitting round the table to find the best solution for the site.
Recently elected PN leader Adrian Delia has promised a new way of doing politics and uniting the country.
Mr Agius, who previously served as the PN’s spokesman for local councils, said the €330k used to restore the building was money well spent.
He said politics worked better when people sat around a table and thrashed out issues.
"What was wrong then - the way the place was obtained - remains wrong. But the use of the place now is good," he said, dismissing criticism that his presence had effectively endorsed a project described scandalous by his own party.
Politicians, he said, had the capacity and intelligence to find solutions for the good of the country.
In a subsequent statement, the Nationalist Party said that while it continued to condemn the government's €4.2 million direct order purchase of the property back in 2013, it was all in favour of the site now being used to house Valletta's local council.
"Valletta residents and the hundreds who seek council services deserve an adequate place," the PN said.
On his part, Dr Bonnici thanked all those involved in the project.
He said working together with the Opposition had reaped more benefits, and demonstrated a level of political maturity.
The National Audit Office has slammed the government's buy-back of Cafe' Premier, saying that it did not obtain value for money even though the property was bought at market value.
The NAO expressed a number of reservations regarding the manner in which the government acquired the property.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was found to have used his private e-mail address to conduct government business during the bailout deal.