Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has backed the proposed reform in the rental market amid growing criticism from both the Opposition and landlords, during a pre-budget meeting with the Malta Developers’ Association which hinted at points of conflict between the two bodies.
“The market is a jungle, you have to admit that. I believe that after consultation our final proposals are sensible. Some of your members might not be happy, but the proposals are sensible,” Muscat told MDA head Sandro Chetcuti.
Muscat also took the time to clarify that the reform will in no way infringe on persons property rights, insisting that protections are already in place.
Chetcuti kicked off the meeting by noting MDA’s massive influence in Malta, saying that there were no less than 42,000 people directly affected by its actions.
“We are the biggest NGO on the island,” Chetcuti said.
While noting a difficult summer, Chetcuti turned his attention to the issue of construction waste, telling the Prime Minister that while it is often portrayed as a private industry issue, the government would have to shoulder a significant amount of the responsibility given the massive state projects taking place.
In response, Muscat agreed with Chetcuti, and hinted that the government may be looking at reclaiming state-owned quarries to deal with the issue in the short term.
In the medium to long term, Muscat floated the idea of dumping the waste in spoiled land out at sea, and naturally mentioned the government’s long-held plans for land reclamation, which is expected to be presented to cabinet in the coming weeks.
Chetcuti did address the public criticism it often receives. However, he insisted that the “ugliness” of developments should be blamed on the 2006 local plans and not on the construction industry.
“Don’t blame the developers, blame the local plan. All this is is a result of bad planning. We have the same concerns as the other NGOs. Unfortunately, they have their agenda and you cannot see eye to eye with them,” Chetcuti said.
On proposals themselves, Chetcuti urged to government to reinstate first-time buyer and second-time buyer schemes, adding that they should be increased to reflect current market rates.
Muscat, while agreeing with some of the proposals revealed, said that it is essential to now manage expectations in the country.
“We are not going to spend more than we have,” Muscat said as he highlighted the importance of sustainable growth.