Finance Minister Clyde Caruana caused a stir last week by simply asserting the sacrosanct truth that Malta must change course and opt for an economic model that prioritizes construction and exploits alternative routes to generate growth. Eureka!
The same sentiment has fundamentally resonated with large swathes of the local population and has been reiterated ad nauseam by many politicians, environmental NGOs and even academics for the past two decades, at least.
Despite the obvious, however, the significance of the Minister’s foray is still not to be downplayed and, in fact, it has ruffled a few feathers, notably those of the Malta Developers Association. The MDA, considered by the two political parties as an instrumental “stakeholder” to be consulted for these essential donations on the eve of an election, as the last interview with Sandro Chetcuti reveals, quickly criticized the minister for having tried to “Make an enemy of the industry. Rather than revising policies to protect the urban and rural environment.
MDA needs to be assured that the unsavory public perception of the industry is not corroborated by Caruana’s latest missive, but was forged over years of sheer greed by the industry and was perpetrated. by MDA’s favorite mantra that everyone on these islands is a developer and has everything to gain from building.
As for the MDA’s assertion that policies need to be revised due to their permissive nature, it is downright misleading on their behalf given that the MDA has contributed to the formulation of the same policies through the toxic proximity between politicians and politicians. the construction industry on these islands.
For example, whenever the slightest hint of a policy review surfaced, the MDA quickly reminded authorities that existing development boundaries must be respected lest a square inch of developable land be wiped out. of their register.
How can the MDA aspire to clean up the image of the industry it represents when, on the one hand, it is a bedmate of both parties (assimilated by Chetcuti in an interview in 2015 to two “department stores , from which MDA members can select the best politicians ”and reinforced by regular and well-publicized meetings between senior MDA officials and the two sides), twisting their arm for fear that they might change course and, d on the other hand, arguing that the industry should not be demonized given that existing policies are to blame?
The construction industry’s addiction to sustainable construction on these islands was echoed recently by Joseph Portelli in an insightful interview he conceded to this newspaper when he predicted, with his smug and condescending air that he characterizes, that the current dynamic of development would ensue on these islands for the next 100 years.
When sampling public sentiment in the run-up to the next election, the Labor government likely stumbled upon outright public outrage over the unbridled way the construction industry has been left to let loose with the serenity of the neighborhoods through the current permissive policies.
Knowing full well that curbing the same industry is anathema on the eve of an election, the government has chosen to soften the construction pill by investing heavily in urban regeneration projects, landscaping being peddled as a palliative to hide these concrete monoliths. destroying our streetscapes.
The two political parties must be weaned from private donations– Alan Deidun
Decoupling future economic growth from the construction industry is a giant leap that this nation must take in the immediate future. This will certainly not be an easy goal to achieve under the benevolent gaze of MDA, who simply cannot envision a business model that is not driven or even dominated by construction.
Chetcuti has already been heard that one of the first indicators of economic activity he looks for when he travels to another country is the number of cranes adorning the skyline. With an archaic mindset like this, Caruana has her work cut out for trying to achieve the transition we all need from an economy centered on building to one based on alternative activities that revolve around ‘an education system that actually provides a skilled workforce.
For this decoupling to materialize, another prior decoupling must be put in place … the two political parties must be weaned from private donations. One of the ways to achieve this is through public subsidy, which should not be objectionable given that political parties play a decisive role in the democratic fabric which is already in place in a number of European countries.
It may seem archaic to some to quote the Bible, but the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6 verse 24, nails it by stating that “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be faithful to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.
Minister of Finance Caruana, the country is eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the fiscal measures you have promised to begin the transition from an economy centered on construction to a more diversified economy. Such a transition could not start sooner.
May Budget 2022 be a watershed moment when you anchor your legacy as one of the few politicians to truly stand up to the construction lobby on these islands.
With the Labor government poised for another wide-margin election victory, the timing could not be better for such a reversal. Heed the heartfelt cry of the Maltese public that construction must be brought under control and quality of life considerations placed at least on par with standard of living.
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