Deborah Schembri to build house with swimming-pool next door to Joseph and Michelle Muscat
Deborah Schembri, who is Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and for Lands, and answerable directly to the Prime Minister who is the Minister for Planning and for Lands, is not content with being close to Muscat every day at the office. She is now planning to move right next door to him on a street in Burmarrad.
A planning application was made a few days ago on her behalf by her architect Robert Musumeci, to the Planning Authority for which Schembri herself is responsible. There was no statement to the press and no form of disclosure from her office whatsoever, even though the circumstances call for heightened transparency and greater press scrutiny. Without that disclosure, it looks as though she was hoping to sneak it through before anyone noticed.
Even if everything about it is straightforward, the parliamentary secretary/minister responsible for the Planning Authority is still obliged to inform the press and the public when he or she applies to that authority for planning permission.
There’s more. Robert Musumeci is here working as her private, personal architect. But he is also a consultant to her government office, which begs legitimate questions as to whether she is paying him using her personal funds, whether he has waived his fees because of their relative status, or whether he has included his fees in an umbrella amount billed to the Office of the Prime Minister. Either of the latter two would be corruption and a resignation matter for both. But Schembri should not be using Musumeci’s services privately in the first place, because he is her consultant at government level.
The application details show that the Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Lands has applied for permission for the demolition of the houses at 22 and 24 San Pawl Milqi Street in Burmarrad, and to have a “dwelling” with a swimming-pool constructed instead of them.