The Malta Independent 27 September 2023, Wednesday
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TMID Editorial: Will Labour listen to Alfred Sant?

Thursday, 17 November 2022, 09:15 Last update: about 11 months ago

Alfred Sant is right to express his frustration.

Last Monday, in an opinion piece on The Malta Independent website, the former Prime Minister and Labour Party leader said that he cannot understand why people who build something without the necessary permits are then simply fined by the relevant authorities and get to keep what they built.

Development which took place illegally, therefore, is sanctioned against a small expense for the developers, who are then allowed to make money from the “illegal” buildings which become “legal” overnight.

The Labour MEP wrote the following – “The State should be telling them: Dismantle as soon as possible all you have put up. And you must pay a stiff fine for what you’ve been doing, otherwise you end up in jail. Instead, this is what we tell them: Now be reasonable, please pay a fine (in most cases, it would be peanuts for the business interests involved), so that not only everything you have done is legitimated, but you can as well do good business with the assets in question.”

“On the other hand,” Sant continues, “should a worker put up a cabin on the roof of his house for his family to use as a washroom, then in double quick time he is obligated to remove the whole structure.”

In other words, what Sant is saying is that the authorities are strong with the weak and weak with the strong. A small washroom which may have been built illegally gets to be pulled down, but mega-monsters which are, to say the least, an eyesore get to remain because the developer who built them has clout.

He does not mention anyone by name, but it is clear that Sant is referring to the Planning Authority. It has happened too many times that big developers who started or even completed projects without the necessary permits ended up getting the green light against too little a fine, which is probably passed on to the person/s buying the property in question.

Sant goes a step further. He says that this situation has given “rise to an industry of professionals out to give advice how such sanctioning can be achieved”. And, he goes on, “new regulations are in the pipeline which will continue to promote this tawdry practice.”

We have been saying for quite a while that the Labour Party, in government, is making things easy for the construction industry. Nearly 10 years down the line, the sun is still shining and they continue to make hay.

We have also said several times that since 2013 we have seen a culture of impunity reign in the country, with no inclination to punish offenders across the board.

Now we have a former Labour Prime Minister pointing it out too that it is wrong that people who flout the law – in this case, he is referring to developers but we extend the argument to other situations that have taken place in the last 10 years – are not punished as they should be.

Sant is drawing the government’s attention to this. Whether the government will listen to him is another matter.

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