PN welcomes agriculture lease amendments tabled in parliament by government

Nationalist Party welcomes proposed changes to agricultural leases

There appears to be political consensus on legal changes to agricultural leases
There appears to be political consensus on legal changes to agricultural leases

The Nationalist Party has welcomed amendments concerning agricultural leases tabled in parliament on Tuesday by minister Anton Refalo.

Nationalist spokespersons Toni Bezzina and Rebekah Cilia agreed that both ammendmends and the White Paper will "finally" address the challenges caused by existing laws regulating agricultural leases.

They said the PN had called for changes to the law since the current situation would lead for “the loss of more agricultural fields.”

The PN had proposed similar measures last month and also mentioned the issue in its 2017 manifesto.

In 2017, the PN did indeed mention agricultural leases in their ‘Jien nagħżel Malta’ manifesto. But the party was suggesting at the time subsidies for farms and other agricultural structures built on government land.

In December 2021, when asked by sister newspaper ILLUM, about subsidy rates, Minister Refalo explained that such subsidy rates on businesses such as farming would be interpreted as state aid. The European Union generally prohibits state aid unless it is justified by reasons of general economic development.

The PN MPs said the party will consult with all interested stakeholders to “ensure that the policy for agriculture makes this sector more competitive and resilient.”

Two legal amendments targeting agricultural leases were tabled in parliament on Tuesday as a stop-gap measure to address issues raised by the Constitutional Court.

The amendments that were tabled by Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo, will give landowners the right to lay down conditions on agricultural leases.

But the government has also published a White Paper for a wide-ranging reform of the law regulating agricultural leases to bring it in line with recent court decisions.

The amendments are a temporary solution until the reform is implemented.

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