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PN pledges to revise high-rise policies, abolish inheritance tax

PN pledges revision of high-rise policies to protect Malta's skyline in a clear rejection of skyscraper proposals 

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
23 May 2017, 4:09pm
PN leader Simon Busuttil presents his property proposals to the MDA
PN leader Simon Busuttil presents his property proposals to the MDA
The Nationalist Party has pledged to revise Malta’s high-rise policies so as to protect the skyline from obstruction by skyscrapers.

In a policy document presented today during a meeting with the Malta Developers’ Association (MDA), the PN said that it will design a national skyline policy and revise the current high-rise policies “because we believe that the skyline forms part of our national heritage and should be protected”.

PN leader Simon Busuttil last year accused the Labour government of trying to turn Malta “into another Dubai” in the wake of permits granted for the construction of skyscrapers in Qui Si Sana and Mriehel and plans to construct several skyscrapers in Paceville.

A photomontage of the proposed skyscraper at Qui Si Sana, Sliema
A photomontage of the proposed skyscraper at Qui Si Sana, Sliema
During today’s meeting at the Le Meridien Hotel, Dhalia Real Estate founder Chris Grech urged Busuttil to work hand in hand with the MDA over its planned skyline policy.

“With regards the skyline policy, the most important thing is that the government works hand in hand with and in synergy with the MDA,” he said. “The MDA has shown in the past that it is not only sensitive to its own sector, but to the development of our country.”

During the meeting, Busuttil notably welcomed a call by MDA president Sandro Chetcuti to appoint developers on public boards of interest to them. 

“You must involve our people when appointing people on certain executive boards,” Chetcuti said. “That way, people with a businessman’s mindset, who truly understand how business works in practice, will be involved on important policy decisions. We are fed up with the current situation in this country whereby many consultants who have never invested or done anything with their money dictate planning policies and hurt us by imposing excess bureaucracy.”

Busuttil promised Chetcuti that, if elected Prime Minister, he will tell him to draft a list of people he believes should serve on public boards of interest to the MDA.

“I promise you that I will be ready to consider every name you show me, so long as they are competent people of integrity who are willing to offer their experience to the country,” he said. “I don’t believe that public boards should be dominated by cliques of political parties. I have made it my mission to clean up the political system and I won’t repeat the mistakes of the past and the present.”

MDA hails PN’s pledge to abolish inheritance tax

The PN is also promising to entirely abolish inheritance tax upon the transfer of property from one generation to another, currently set at 5% of the declared property value.

It will also remove inheritance tax upon the generational transfer of family businesses, both on property and on company shares.

Sandro Chetcuti welcomed the proposal, admitting that it went a step beyond what the MDA were proposing.

“We were going to recommend that the inheritance tax should only be payable once the heirs sell the house, because we believe it is unfair for heirs to get into a hassle and worrying about the inheritance tax while their parents are still dying. However, what you are proposing is even better.”

MDA president Sandro Chetcuti (second from left) praised the PN's call to abolish inheritance tax
MDA president Sandro Chetcuti (second from left) praised the PN's call to abolish inheritance tax
PN’s housing proposals

In its policy document, the PN also pledged to build more social housing units through a public private partnership project, and that the Housing Authority will once again start renting property from the private sector to be used as social housing.

Landlords who rent out property to people on the social housing waiting list will be exempted from income tax on rental income so long as they keep the rent prices fixed for ten years. The Housing Authority’s profits will be ring-fenced and used solely to pay people whose land was expropriated decades ago and are still waiting for compensation.

A PN government will also extend the first-time buyers’ scheme to include separated and divorced people, and grant tax credits on home loans based on the purchasers’ income.

In an attempt to regenerate Marsa, Hamrun, Qawra and Bugibba, the PN will slash capital gains tax to 5% on the construction of buildings in those towns, and reduce tax on rental income in those towns from 15% to 10%. Capital gains tax will also be reduced to 5% for buildings that have been certified as Near Zero-Energy Buildings.

As already promised by the PN, a portion of VAT collected from businesses will be ring-fenced and used to upgrade the infrastructure in the their localities.

The government will commit itself to planting more trees in urban areas and the Planning Authority will speed up the processing of development applications that propose the reduction of built-up area to accommodate green spaces.  

It will incentivize owners of scheduled properties to maintain their properties and occasionally open them up the public.

Elsewhere, the PN will increase the capital of the Malta Development Bank by €360 million, money that will be used to provide loan guarantees to Maltese businesses and start-ups – ranging between €25,000 and €250,000.