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Government had rejected proposal for LNG terminal

Dr Gonzi visiting commercial outlets in Valletta’s Merchants Street. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Dr Gonzi visiting commercial outlets in Valletta’s Merchants Street. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

The Government had rejected a 2008 suggestion by international consultants Lahmayer that the power station could be fired through an LNG terminal similar to the one being proposed by Labour.

“We had immediately turned down the proposal as it was not feasible when compared with a gas pipeline and it posed a number of risks which had to be addressed,” Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.

The Government had immediately decided the best option was an electricity interconnector from Sicily. The decision to first invest in an interconnector and later a gas pipeline was the best in the circumstances, Dr Gonzi said following a visit to a number of commercial outlets in Valletta’s Merchants Street.

The Government, he said, was convinced it had made the right decisions in the energy sector.

He said he had given his consent to the Malta Resources Authority to publish all the studies it had commissioned related to the generation of power.

Asked whether the Government had once refused an offer by Italian petroleum giant ENI to build a gas pipeline, Dr Gonzi said it was not true that it was going to be built for free.

Malta was asked to pay for this multi-million infrastructure over a 25-year period and on condition that it procured gas only through this pipeline even when it was not going to use the commodity.

“This proposal didn’t make commercial sense,” he said.

A former Enemalta manager last week told The Times that minister Austin Gatt had ditched a “favourable” proposal to have a gas pipeline built by Italian energy company Eni a decade ago. Labour leader Joseph Muscat has since accused Dr Gonzi of losing the opportunity to have the pipeline built “for free”.

Speaking about business in the capital, Dr Gonzi said his Government had invested massively in Valletta’s infrastructure particularly in projects which changed the city’s look and made it more accessible.

More people were as a result choosing Valletta for their shopping and more outlets were opening.

He said the Government would continue to provide incentives to small and medium enterprises to pursue further development of the capital particularly by converting unused spaces into new com­mercial establishments.

The development of the financial services sector was also on the Prime Minister’s radar yesterday.

In a visit to the Ta’ Xbiex offices of PSA Insurance, a French insurance firm servicing the international automobile clients of Peugeot and Citroen, Dr Gonzi said such com­panies were tangible proof of the openings that the Government had created in this sector.

The fact that such reputable companies were opening shop in Malta showed that the island had the right legislative, fiscal and human resources to service them.

CEO Edouard de Lamarzelle said the company had chosen Malta because it offered the best opportunities in this area. Business was growing stronger and at a fast pace and the company intended to continue to invest.

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