The Malta Independent 21 February 2019, Thursday

Government will not be Father Christmas with social housing – Joseph Muscat

Neil Camilleri Sunday, 10 February 2019, 12:04 Last update: about 10 days ago

The government will not act like Father Christmas with social housing and hand out newly built units as freebies to people who do not need such assistance, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Sunday morning.

Speaking in Mgarr, Muscat also said that gone are the days when social housing is automatically handed down from one generation to the next.

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The government has embarked on a €50 million project to build some 500 new social housing units.

“Our economy is doing well but yes, there are poor people – we admit that,” Muscat said.

“But I am going to be very clear, even if these means that we will lose some votes: we will not be dishing out social housing to anyone, like what was done in the past by both administrations.”

“The government is not father Christmas, handing out houses. What message would I be sending to those thousands struggling with a loan, those who taught their children how to save up their money. Social housing will be for those who truly need it, not for people who simply don’t feel like taking out a loan.”

Muscat said the government was taking its time on this social measure because it did not want to create new social ghettos. He said that, unfortunately, some social housing areas are not well kept. “You can see differences between one block and the next, even between floors.”

Muscat said the government could have found a site on ODZ and built all the new social housing there but, apart from the fact that this government had not increased the development zone by one centimetre, it did not want to create ghettos. Instead, social housing will be spread out in different localities, facilitating integration.

He also warned that there has to be a change in mentality. “When people are given the key to their social housing accommodation – which will be rented – it will be just the first part of a new process. Hopefully, these people will someday find themselves in a better financial position and can move out, making space for people who truly need social housing. We cannot retain a system where these properties are handed down generations, even if the children can afford to buy their own property.”

Muscat reminded those present that the €50 million project was being paid for through the controversial passport sale scheme, which “others keep spitting venom on.”

He said that, apart from social housing, the government was also coming up with schemes to help first-time buyers, separated people, people who rent a property and those who, because of their age cannot borrow from the banks.

The government is able to do all this because it has a sound economic plan.

Muscat said the European Commission has said that Malta will be the fastest growing economy this year and the next. He spoke about infrastructural projects, like the €10 million tunnel upgrade, that do not even surprise people anymore, because they are now a common thing.

He also said that some 20 new gaming companies had applied to move to Malta.

The PM also said the government was giving back to workers the holidays that fell on weekends, such as St Paul’s Shipwreck, which is being celebrated today.

Muscat also referred to the PN’s recently unveiled proposals on agriculture. While the government was making it easier for retired farmers to transfer their fields to other farmers, the PN wanted to facilitate the transfer of farmhouses, which promoted land speculation in rural areas. The government would never back such a proposal, he said. 

 

PN reaction

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said Muscat had admitted that he has not yet solved the rental market problem, which he himself created through economics that increase the population rather than production.

It said Muscat wanted to keep importing foreign workers threatening that there would be no pensions if he does not to that, but on the other hand these sectors that are vital for the wellbeing of the Maltese were facing huge pressures.

 

 

 

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