08 MAY 2002

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US embassy tones down over MIA privatisation drive

The US Embassy has toned down its position on the MIA privatisation process after being dragged into the foray by the Alterra Consortium. Talking to The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday, the embassy said in an official reply that it would continue to recommend participation in the privatisation process, if the process was fair and transparent.

The embassy was asked to comment on the deal but it would not be led into making any frivolous comments.

It only answered that it was closely following the legal proceedings commenced by Alterra.

Yet the legal proceedings commenced by Alterra, which includes the American company Bechtel is only a judicial protest which, in legal terms, amounts to little more than a mere formality.

Interestingly, when queried over what recommendations the US embassy would be making, the embassy answered that it was in no position to make any recommendations over remedial action. US law prohibits embassies from giving legal advice, an embassy spokesperson said.

In January of this year, Alterra appears to have requested the reimbursement of Lm3.5 million it had utilised for promoting their privatisation bid.

This seemingly absurd request appears not to have helped them tremendously in their negotiations. Neither was the American-style lobbying, particularly helpful when coupled with the highhandedness of Alterra’s local PR local consultant. The consultant, who is better known as a newspaper columnist, has obviously irked several cabinet ministers including Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami but not the Labour media, who appear to be relishing the moment to tarnish the privatisation drive.


Copyright © Network Publications Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07, Malta
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt