You might think conflicts of interest of people in office don’t concern you if they’re doing ‘a good job’. You might not care if Owen Bonnici is Justice Minister and personal attorney to a subject of a criminal inquiry.
Here’s when it starts hitting you.
If you live in Pembroke, or don’t and just care about the country’s skyline, and you ignored this story from last July that told you that a Planning Authority director has a real estate business on the side, conflicts of interest have hit you.
Matthew Pace has been director of MEPA since when Labour first came to power. His financial services company, now rebranded to hide its record of money laundering fines from superficial google searches, managed the money of Keith Schembri, Robert Musumeci and other sundry tagħnalkollers.
During his tenure as MEPA director he decided to diversify and found a way of making money from the enthusiastic processing of ever more development permits by the authority he directs.
The change of use of the Fortina Hotel to offices is not necessarily bad news in and of itself. But changing that use should cause a revisiting of the price for which it was first granted from government to the developers. Originally it was granted for tourism — and so it was used. To stimulate economic activity government charged less for land to be used for tourism activity than it would have for other businesses.
Now the use of the land is going into other businesses. Are you sure the price is still right?
Are you sure the Lands Authority CEO James Piscopo is negotiating in your best interest when he’s in business with the Fortina developers and makes his money from their profits?
And this is no exceptional circumstance. When you realise how the Hard Rock Hotel and the hard rock 38 storey erection next door are being built on land granted for the prices of one of those 38 storeys you know they’re profiting from their conflicts. And you’re paying.
Do you still think they’re doing a good job?