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PN slams government for claiming 2012 housing scheme for its own

The Nationalist Party says a rent scheme launched today by the government was the same as that launched by the Nationalist government in 2012 and cancelled by Labour after the 2013 election

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks
11 August 2017, 4:06pm
There are currently over 3,200 pending applications for social housing
There are currently over 3,200 pending applications for social housing
The Nationalist Party has accused the government of “a lack of strategy and vision”, claiming that a scheme launched earlier today to encourage private investment in social housing was merely a revalidation of a scheme launched by the PN government in 2012.

At a press conference to launch the scheme, Parliamentary Secretary for Social Accomodation Roderick Galdes said the initiative was part of the administration’s efforts to address the waiting list of over 3,200 applicants requiring social housing.

€1 million have been allocated for the scheme, which will attempt to add at least 200 private properties to the 600 units already earmarked for social housing.

But the PN insisted that the scheme was the same as that launched in 2012, and which the Labour Party in opposition had heavily criticised.

In fact, when Labour came to government in 2013, minister Marie Louise Coleiro – formerly one of the most vocal critics of the scheme and now President of Malta – had immediately ended the initiative.

The PN said Galdes should have been honest about the previous scheme’s effectiveness.

“If the Labour Party hadn’t stopped the scheme, then the challenge of social housing wouldn’t have deteriorated to what it is now”, said PN speaker for social housing Ivan Bartolo.

PN claims find online corroboration

The PN’s claims were corroborated by statements posted on social media by the man who had spearheaded the scheme in 2012.

Andre Pizzuto, then Executive Head of the Property Services Department within the Housing Authority, was quick to call out the government on its claims.

“Great to see the scheme I had launched in 2012 is being relaunched 5 years later. Seems like the criticism made of the scheme by former Minister Coleiro Preca back in 2013 was nonsense after all and dismissed by the current Minister,” he wrote on Facebook. “Let's hope the relaunch will be as successful as the one I managed five years ago.”

He also posted on his page a video of the advert the Housing Authority ran in 2012 following the introduction of the scheme. (See below)

When contacted by MaltaToday, Pizzuto confirmed that, following the 2013 election, newly-appointed minister Coleiro Preca had been very critical of the initiative, both during the 2013 parliamentary debate on the Housing Authority’s budget estimates and in meetings with the authority’s senior management.

“The minister’s criticisms back then focused specifically on the fact that the leases should have been longer – 15 years – when the scheme already provided for extensions or for the outright acquisition of the property by the Housing Authority,” Pizzuto said.

He said the minister could have chosen to have the scheme amended to extend the lease duration.

“Although it would have been difficult to predict whether the outcome would have been as successful because property owners found the 10 year lease period as ideal,” he said.

As attested by his reaction on social media, Pizzuto said he was very supportive of the scheme – then and now.

“I do hope they make a success of it,” he said.

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...