Malta’s economy must move away from its dependence on the construction industry because excessive development is suffocating the island and can no longer be sustained, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has said.
Speaking during a pre-budget public consultation in Gozo last night, Caruana said the next budget would start this process because the government had understood that people were tired of cranes and concrete.
He said that while the Maltese people had always had a great desire to build, this was no longer sustainable.
Maltese citizens’ quality of life has increased so much over the years that they are now missing that which they don’t have: open spaces.
He said that a mistake by all past Maltese governments, from both sides of the political divide, was to use the construction industry to drive the economy.
“It’s the easiest way to boost the economy. When you build, you need to buy tiles, you need electricians, plumbers, you need to buy a kitchen… it helps the wheel go round,” Caruana said.
“The truth, however, is that we can’t keep going on like this. We don’t have a continent but a small island with all of its limitations.”
He said that if Malta continued to adopt the same “formula” it had applied in recent years there was no point expecting a different outcome.
“We need to change the way we think and the way in which the economic wheel goes round. If we keep repeating the same mistakes we will have the same results.”
Caruana stressed that the solution was increased investment and education. “The more educated people are, the more able they are to create new opportunities for themselves.”
Acknowledging that construction would never come to complete halt, but said it was necessary for the country to identify other economic drivers.
He said that in the same way that the government was credible on job creation, it now needed to gain credibility on the environment.
What do you make of the minister’s remarks?