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Gozo channel crossings

I refer to the article entitled “Government ordered to amend tender” (August 28).

The Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects rebuts the allegations made in the article that the request for proposals for a public service concession contract for the provision of passenger and vehicle ferry services between Malta and Gozo breached the principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination.

In addition, the ministry considers the title ‘Government ordered to amend tender’ to be misleading since this may imply that material amendments to the request for proposals are required, notwithstanding that the only amendment to the request for proposals ordered by the Public Contracts Review Board was to increase the date for commencement of the services from three months from signing to five months from signing.

In view of the fact that the period allowing for appeals from the decision of the PCRB is still running, the Ministry limits itself at this stage to referring to the decision of the PCRB, which is publicly available.

Editorial note: For the record, the Public Contracts Review Board drew five conclusions: it instructed the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure to extend the start-up period to be “within five months from the award of the concession”; confirmed that the contracting authority gave sufficient information for Virtu Ferries to compile an “implementation plan”, however, due to the prevailing circumstances and for the sake of safeguarding the principle of equal treatment, it instructed Virtu Ferries to identify the issues they should have done at a much earlier stage and, provided the information requested is prudent and can be divulged, obtain the same from the ministry; confirmed that the stipulated concession period of five years is considered to be appropriate and equitable; instructed the ministry to provide the framework of any collective agreements presently in force; instructed the ministry to issue a new closing date for the submission of offers, after taking into consideration the board’s conclusions.

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