Construction magnate Joseph Portelli has detailed his close relationship to both the government and opposition, revealing that he donates to both political parties to ensure assistance in his projects should either be elected into power.
“Yes. I need them to help me. If they don’t want to, then it’s fine. The day a government tells me my projects aren’t needed for the country anymore, I will back out, cash my money and do something else with my life,” he said in an interview with Times of Malta.
“It will be a loss for me, yes, but it will also be… well… I won’t say it will be a loss for Malta, because who am I to say I’ll be a loss for Malta? But it will be a pity to lose all those jobs. I just hope someone else will take my place because it is needed for the country.”
While not divulging exact figures, Portelli said that his companies donate roughly €7,000 each to both parties.
Speaking on top of Mercury Tower, Portelli said meets with Malta’s politicians on regular basis, to “speed up the process” for his developments.”
“I go to them to argue for my rights. They don’t always agree, and when they don’t, I say ‘thank you’ and walk away. I used to feel upset when I was younger, but not anymore.”
He insisted that he does not receive preferential treatment, but said these frequent meetings were crucial when he had such a large financial interest at stake.
In the wide-ranging interview, Portelli also revealed his plans for the former Jerma Hotel in Marsakala. Portelli, who forms part of a consortium that plans to develop the site, said that the project will consist of 130 low-lying apartments and a 500-room hotel, which he says will breathe life into the locality.
He announced his support for the government’s controversial proposed marina in the area, revealing that while he is currently not part of the proposal, he would welcome joining the project.
Portelli dismissed suggestions that his developments lacked aesthetic value and insisted that large-scale projects improve the over valuer and quality of an area.
“Not only did we not block their view, but we have also given them one. Do you know what it’s like to wake up to the view of a Zaha Hadid tower instead of the view of another apartment block?” he said.
At points he said that he regretted getting into the tower-building business, however, he also conceded that he does have plans in the pipeline for similar projects.
Portelli also denied that former EU Commissioner John Dalli, who is expected to be charged in court soon, was his business partner. However, he did reveal that his daughter is his company’s CFO.
What do you think of the interview?