The Malta Independent 19 March 2019, Tuesday

Malta failed in construction planning, MDA president says

Friday, 1 March 2019, 08:25 Last update: about 17 days ago

Malta failed in terms of forward development planning, and needs to concentrate more on having a strategy in place for the sector, Malta Developers’ Association president Sandro Chetcuti said on Thursday.

Speaking at the association’s annual general meeting, Chetcuti said that since the British left Malta, development planning had been fragmentory in nature.

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“We cannot afford to turn Malta into a Bugibba and Qawra,” Chetcuti said, however adding that the construction industry was one of the main reasons why Malta went from a recession to the “biggest boom the country has ever seen”.

Chetcuti said that local players in the industry weren’t afraid of competing with foreign developers, but that it had to be ensured that there was a level playing field for both.

He complained that developers were facing excessive bureaucracy which was holding the sector back.

Chetcuti said that the MDA was in favour of land reclamation, as long as it wasn’t done for speculative purposes. “We don’t want to see blocks of flats built on reclaimed land.”

In his address, Opposition leader Adrian Delia agreed with Chetucti’s call for more planning. “When it comes to long-term planning, the question is not if we build, but the way we will build, and if this will be suiting Malta’s needs,” he said.

“We need to consider what Malta’s population will be in two decades’ time, how many of these will be foreigners, how many will be families…” he said.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, however, rejected the idea that it was possible or practical to plan so far ahead.

“I am absolutely against planning which tries to forecast today what the needs of my children’s children will be 25 years in the future,” he said, “This is not realistic, and countries, including Malta, which tried to do this, realised they were wasting their time. Things are happening at such a fast pace in today’s world, and technology is developing so quickly, that predicting the future is impossible.”

“We need to agree on what developers can do and what they can’t. There is a fine line between understanding what the country’s economy needs, but also understanding that a plan means that some things have got to give,” he said.

Muscat said the time had arrived for the government to move away from taking direct decisions in the sector, and instead place things in the hands of professionals.

“I am ready to start a discussion on this matter,” he added.

 

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