Fabian Demicoli

GASCO ENERGY new gas filling plant nearing final touches

 GRTU Gas distributors still in the dark – After nearly three years of design and construction, Gasco Energy New Gas Filling Plant will shortly come into full force. During a visit by the Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi and Minister George Pullicino last Thursday, the state of the art facility was brought to the fore of all those present including the media.

All is ready to go, except for a distribution system that is not on solid ground for any stakeholder in the sector.

It is however ironical that whilst a plan of such a size was designed and build from scratch in just under three years, the issue of Gas Distributors represented by the GRTU Malta Chamber of SMEs, remains unsolved. Whilst GRTU has worked for many long hours on this issue, there seems to be no solution in sight.

Gas Distribution has been in place in Malta for many years. For many years whoever wanted a service was provided with a service which is next to none within the European Community. Gas Distributors had and still have an obligation to serve every Tom, Dick and Harry, anywhere. They do this with the condition that each have their own operational social agreement with the public in general. And now we are told that because of the European Directives we had to liberalise importation and wholesale. Whilst that was acceptable, liberalizing distribution and retail was not obligatory. It was the Government's choice, one which was taken with the introduction of Legal Notice 249 of 2008 which completely forgot  the existing market distributors.

Time has lingered and Gas Distributors are now against a brick wall. The worst part is that we are not aware of the negotiations going on behind the scenes. We do not know when a decision will be taken. Time is against us, against the self employed who have over the last 40 years effected a distribution system for LPG cylinders which is the best in the Community. Of course not all was perfect but if by the word competition one means that our communities loose the service that is being provided today.

The Malta Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises, GRTU, has waited long enough. It is a pity that the Government of the day continues to treat self employed like beggars. Beggars are never choosers. GRTU takes the opportunity to auger Gasco Energy and Liquigas a pleasant future in a  better state of the art facility. For the rest time is running out for everyone and we do hope that Government places this Gas Distributors issue as a priority matter. We expect a solution, and soon!

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