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‘Bold’ decisions on future of SmartCity expected

GO's former chairman given top job at ICT village

Bold decisions were expected to be taken on the future of Smart-City, as Deepak Padmanabhan was appointed CEO of the multi-million-euro ICT village project in Kalkara, industry sources said.

The decision to give the top job to GO’s former chairman is being interpreted “as a possible new beginning for the project” which, they said, had almost stalled over the past years.

Deepak Padmanabhan – the new SmartCity CEODeepak Padmanabhan – the new SmartCity CEO

Mr Padmanabhan is a well-respected and well-known figure across Malta’s business community. Dubai Holdings, the owner of SmartCity, said his appointment was a signal of its commitment towards the project.

“We have appointed one of our most accomplished executives to lead the development,” it said in a statement.

The latest development follows a series of decisions by the former administration of SmartCity to sell plots of land to third parties, particularly for real estate purposes. Such decisions veered substantially from the original 2007 plan to develop an ICT-based village.

It is not yet known whether the new SmartCity administration will be changing the policy.

Earlier this year, SmartCity submitted fresh plans to change the original 2007 master plan, aimed at increasing drastically the height limitation in various areas of the project, particularly those concerning residential and commercial zones.

If approved by the Planning Authority and Parliament, the changes will open the floodgates for massive real estate development in the area instead of the supposed ICT city, the sources noted.

The 310,000 square metres of public land in Kalkara were given to SmartCity Malta Ltd for 99 years at a low rate with the idea of developing a media city.

The shareholders were bound to create about 5,600 jobs and invest some €300 million on a phase-by-phase basis according to strict time frames. However, the developers did not meet the targets set by the master plan and are now subject to heavy fines by the government.

The Times of Malta is informed that the government has not yet enforced the contract and is not imposing any fines as stipulated in the original agreement.

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