Questions for Minister of Energy, Miriam Dalli

I have sent these questions to Energy Minister, Miriam Dalli. I have no confidence she will reply, but these are the questions that journalists should start asking. and by journalists, I don’t mean grifters like Andrew Azzopardi.

There is enough convincing evidence to implicate people in corruption with regard to the Electrogas deal especially thanks to evidence of bank transfers related to Yorgen Fenech’s shell company in Dubai 17 Black. The perception out there is that you have been appointed Minister of Energy since you are trustworthy enough to cover up the repercussions of the scandals and history surrounding the Electrogas deal. Why have you been appointed Minister of Energy if not to cover up for Joseph Muscat and his friends?

You will probably say there are ongoing investigations and you will not comment on them. But people would say that the fact that no one has been prosecuted and the government still deals with Electrogas is that the government partly thanks to you has successfully covered-up corruption and protected its members on Electrogas. So, the question would be, why do you think that no one has been prosecuted yet despite evidence of corruption?

The government is keeping all its deals and arrangements with Electrogas secret. This would be obvious if you intend to cover up corruption. But why hide the price by which Malta is buying natural gas? It makes no sense. If anything publishing the price would incentivise other sellers to solicit you with potentially lower prices. There is really no incentive to hide the price and all European countries publish these arrangements and prices. So why does Malta does not want to tell the public at what price is the gas being bought?

Earlier this year you claimed you concluded a deal to buy natural gas at the price of the market pegged with Brent crude price changes, a very common practice by which to buy natural gas in the open market. But this is not a hedged position. You have no hedging options active right now do you? Can you explain more in detail the deal you made and at what price the government set the purchasing price? And how much volume did you buy and for how many intended years would this volume suffice?

Instead of making a large purchase on the open market as you did for a definite long-term period of time, wouldn’t it have been better to keep the option open to buy gas substantially in stages so as to exploit price drawdowns? It’s not as if the world was going to run out of gas.

So, let’s go over this in stages as if I am totally stupid. The government has set the gas purchase deal by which Electrogas is instructed to purchase gas. Electrogas buys the gas according to your deal, turns that gas into electricity at the power station that it owns and then sells the electricity to Enemalta, right?

So, as things stand, the Joseph Muscat administration created a situation where Electrogas has basically got a free power-station where it sells us electricity, would you agree with this assessment?

Let’s put some things into context. A report by S&P has technically outlined that Enemalta is bankrupt because it survives on government subsidies. So, Electrogas is making a profit while Enemalta is making a loss. Do you think this is a favourable set-up in the common interest? And don’t you think this is ironic since one of the biggest electoral pledges made by Labour in 2013 was to actually make Enemalta profitable?

Let’s turn to oil now. We still consume energy from the BWSC plant which is owned by Shanghai Electric. Do we have a similar arrangement with Shanghai Electric? That is, do we set the oil trades and then let Shanghai Electric sell electricity to Enemalta?

How much is the oil-purchase price set?

How much is the price of electricity that Electrogas is selling to Enemalta?

How much is the price of electricity that Shanghai Electric is selling to Enemalta?

If you don’t answer these questions, do you think it is appropriate that the general public is being left in the dark on what are some of the most critical facets of its society? Do you think you really have the right and the authority to use your executive discretion to decide what the people should and must know about your Ministry’s activities and dealings and Enemalta’s operations?

You have frequently harped about a green transition, but what is this green transition exactly? The government is planting new trees in public roads but there are no plans to reduce traffic and create more pedestrian zones. Natural land is decreasing due to current planning policies and not increasing. Malta can’t make use of renewables because we don’t have enough land. So what is this green transition exactly?

We have recently seen a new trend of turning agricultural land into solar-panel farms. Do you think this makes sense? Don’t you think we are using the excuse of the solar panel to give up on agriculture? And don’t you think we are destroying a lot of value by turning our fields into solar-panel farms?

You have not denied leadership ambitions. One of your current allies in the Labour Party is Kurt Farrugia who was previously the Communications Chief of Joseph Muscat. And just like Robert Abela you are supported by significant people in the Party because you are trusted to cover up for previous corrupt Labour politicians. You don’t see anything wrong with our state of rule of law or planning policies ruining the environment, so your prospective leadership bid will be intended to keep everything the same. What would you reply to this?

One last question. For many years you have been completely silent on abortion and women’s rights, yet Labour uses you as a poster child for feminism. Like your colleagues, you are also reluctant to pronounce a position on abortion. Do you categorically believe that a woman should have the right to terminate her pregnancy? A categorical yes or no answer would suffice.

Thank you for your time.

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