Corinthia sale below market value not in the public interest – PN

Corinthia sale below market value not in the public interest – PN

The Nationalist Party has expressed concern about the valuation of public land regarding the Corinthia project, saying that “the footprint for real estate is estimated to be double the built-up area for tourism purposes.”

As such, the Opposition said it “feels the government has no justification in selling off valuable public land without at least ascertaining the market value. This is not in the public interest.”

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The PN has confirmed that the Parliamentary Group chaired by its leader Adrian Delia asked for a presentation by Corinthia Group regarding its proposed project on public land in St George’s Bay.

This newsroom sent questions asking the PN to confirm its position about the project to which they replied that the PN “reaffirms its stand in favour of further investment in quality tourism projects. Nonetheless, it has very serious concerns about the way things are being done.”

The party said it “refutes the argument that government is simply proposing to extend the potential uses of public land currently leased out to Corinthia. To the contrary, it considers government’s proposal as an outright sale of public land, which will not be returning to public use after the end of the term of the lease.”

corinthia sale below market value not in the public interest pn - Corinthia sale below market value not in the public interest - PN

The full master plan of the Corinthia development in St George’s Bay is not yet known. However, the first phase of the development would, if approved, include not only the redevelopment of the Corinthia St George’s Bay hotel but also two “luxury serviced residential blocks, the highest proposed to be 15 floors on land located between the current Corinthia and the Radisson Hotel” a spokesperson for the group had told The Malta Independent on Sunday.

The draft agreement – seen by this newspaper – stipulates that this premium will be paid in instalments. “(a) The first of such instalments in the amount of €4,000,000 is payable as to €1,000,000 upon execution of the deed and a further €3,000,000 within three years from the date of this deed; (b)and the balance in the sum of €13,000,000 shall, subject to any reductions in accordance with the provisions – of another clause – be payable on a pro rata basis with respect to each portion of net internal saleable area designated for Office and/or Residential use on the Effective Date”. This amounts to the €17 million premium payment.

Last week, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi insisted to this newspaper that the Corinthia Group is not receiving a discount on the land in St George’s Bay, and said that the hotel group will end up paying government “in excess of 30 per cent on what had been agreed in 2015.”

This newsroom had highlighted to the Tourism Ministry the fact that Deloitte had valued the land for the Corinthia development at €121.7 million, and was asked, given that it will be paying €51.4 million as per the contract, why and how it had been given a €70 million discount.

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The Corinthia Group was also contacted by this newsroom for details about the project. While some questions were answered others, particularly those related to the land payments, were not and this newsroom was told to contact the Tourism Ministry explanations along such lines.

Last week this newsroom also contacted a number of NGOs and local councils who said that they have expressed their reservations about this project.

 

MPs Simon Busuttil and Karol Aquilina notably missing from presentation

Amongst other PN MPs who were absent during the presentation given by the Corinthia Group to the PN parliamentary group, MPs Simon Busuttil and Karol Aquilina were notably missing, sources told this newsroom.

These MPs informed the party they were not available for the presentation due to previous engagements.

PN MP Karol Aquilina, who was very active during the db Group ITS site saga, had previously told this newsroom that the situation still needed to be discussed internally and that he would prefer to give his opinions at an internal level. He also said: “If I was against the db project involving towers, etc., just imagine what I will be with regard to the Corinthia development. I won’t change my mind just because Corinthia is involved. It’s all the same to me. I don’t care who is involved.”

PN MP Simon Busuttil, who also heavily criticised the db Group project, said in a tweet last week that the undervalued sale of the Corinthia project was not in the public interest.

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Perici Calascione lobbing PN MPs in favour of the Corinthia project

Former PN leadership candidate and PN executive member, Alex Perici Calascione has been lobbying the PN leader, deputy leaders and MPs in favour of the Corinthia project, sources close to the PN told this newsroom.

Perici Calascione is married into the Pisani family, owners of the international Corinthia hotels brand and his wife owns shares in the company.  He was not present, on behalf of the Corinthia Group, during the presentation given to the PN.

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