'Do not submit non-starter applications that go against regulations,' Abela tells developers

The Prime Minister also said that foreign workers should only be imported in sectors that truly needed them, and that there was an excessive number of cab drivers

Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: Partit Laburista)
Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: Partit Laburista)

Prime Minister Robert Abela told developers not to submit non-starter development applications that go against the planning regulations.

During an interview on One Radio on Saturday morning, Abela said he was delighted with the nurses and midwives’ approval of the new sectorial agreement.

“This agreement means better conditions, salaries and allowances, and an investment in healthcare and the patient,” Abela said.

Nurses in all grades will receive a management allowance and extra hours worked will now be compensated at overtime rates after 87% of them approved a new five-year sectorial agreement on Friday.

The PM said that the five-year agreement would cost tens of millions of euros and would help attract more people to the profession.

Asked about the environment, Abela said that the government was determined to see through projects of green open spaces and to preserve untouched land.

He said the government was delivering a message that village cores and virgin land should be preserved.

Questioned by the radio host Manuel Micallef about the planning application to transform a residential palazzo in Birkirkara’s urban conservation area into a 38-room hotel, Abela said that this goes against the government’s message.

He refused to go into the specifics of the case but said that the application was a non-starter and that the Planning Authority had to take a clear decision as per the policies and guidelines it had.

Abela had harsh words for developers that submitted applications that did not respect the planning regulations. “Applications that do not conform to the regulations should not be submitted. This serves only to anger and antagonise the community.”

He added that applications in the village core had to convince the community that they were an added value. “There are still those ‘cowboys’ who believe they can force their position,” Abela said.

“There should be a balance between economic growth and sustainability. If you own a private property, you can’t do whatever you like with it. Bring forward sustainable projects that make sense, and you will have our backing.”

Asked about the Appeals Court’s decision to confirm the rejection of a development project in Ħondoq ir-Rummien in Gozo, the PM said that plans were underway to implement changes to the local plans to protect the bay and the adjacent land.

He said the Labour government was against any development in the zone, except for afforestation projects.

Questioned about yet another police raid, during which persons found to be living illegally in Malta were arraigned and will face deportation.

Abela emphasised that people have to come legally to Malta and be observant of the laws. “If you come to our country because it needs you, you need to come here legally and observe the laws. If you don’t you will be taken to court and possibly deported,” Abela said.

The PM also spoke about the importation of foreign labour and said that these workers had to come to work in sectors that needed them. “Foreigners coming to Malta should come to work in sectors that require them.”

He also spoke about the recent reform in the licencing of cab drivers, where it is not an obligation for drivers to have a European Union driving license.

Abela said that better enforcement and safety standards were required in the sector and stated that there was an excessive number of cab drivers in Malta.

He also said that the employers in the sector had so many workers to choose from, making employees replaceable and leading to degrading conditions of work.