Update | New MEPA tariffs announced

Parliamentary Secretary Michael Farrugia announces revised MEPA tariffs, permit applications in line with local plans and MEPA policies automatically approved

Parliamentary Secretary Michael Farrugia announced that development applications in line with local plans and MEPA policies will be automatically approved without the need for further consideration by case officers and the MEPA commissions.

Speaking in parliament during the budget 2013 debate on Wednesday, Farrugia said that this will mean that the MEPA caseload that currently needs to be handled by the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) will drop by around half.

Farrugia announced the measure as part of Labour's war on what he described as "needless bureaucracy."

He said that thanks to this procedural revision, these permits will be able to be approved within a month, while currently they take roughly six months to be processed and approved, as long as the permits fulfil the necessary conditions and MEPA has all the necessary information in hand.

Farrugia also unveiled a long list of MEPA permit tariff revisions that range between 8% and 55% depending on the permit category.

Among them permits related to penthouses will drop by 30%, public car parks by 33%, change of use for non residential sue by 29%, bungalows by 14%, agriculture by 11%, and villa (semi / detached - 2 dwelling units) and farmhouses by 30%, and Flat / Terraced House / Maisonette will drop by 8%

Farrugia said that following the preceding administration's MEPA tariff hike, the authority ended up losing out on 3 million in revenue. He said that the Labour government is now undoing that revision not only for social purposes, but also to give the development industry the opportunity to recover and keep generating economic growth and more jobs.

Restoration of properties in village cores would attract no MEPA tariffs as long as no demolition was involved, a measure titled 'Save the Village Core' that Farrugia said was aimed at encouraging rehabilitation and restoration of existing vacant property.

Farrugia also spoke of Labour's proposals regarding land reclamation insisting that the Opposition's criticism of the proposals suggest that they have not understood what the government was proposing.

He said that the government would be inviting the private sector to participate not only with ideas as to what projects government could explore, but also with concrete investment.

In his address, Farrugia also spoke of considerable mismanagement which he said was rampant in the Lands Department, one of the departments under his responsability. He said that the department was completely bereft of proper administrative procedures, proper management, or adequate checks and balances.

He said that despite how the department is responsible for a considerable portion of the government's revenue, nobody at the department was qualified in accountancy. He also said that a number of decisions taken over the years were done to accomodate people close to the Nationalist Party.

Farrugia said the department is under revision and will be restructured following consultation with those working in the department, including its management.

Farrugia also flatly denied an earlier claim former minister George Pullicino that Farrugia had stopped the MEPA board from discussing an application for a waste recycling plant at Ghallis, challenging the former minister to be clear about who was passing on this "untruth" as fact.

In a counter statement issued by the Nationalist Party, former minister George Pullicino stuck by his statement, insisting that Farrugia ordered MEPA chairman Austin Walker to stop the MEPA meeting. 

"I confirm that is exactly what happened, that on Thursday 14 March he gave instructions to MEPA chairman Austin Walker to not continue with the MEPA Board meeting that had already started hearing the presentation regarding the project."

Pullicino added that "the application was not allowed to be placed on the agenda for 21 March when the Board was intended to start its final deliberation on the project."

I hope we will not get to know of another "termination benefits" payout for Walker as well!! This termination benefits joke is getting seriously out of hand!!
"To agevolate" ! What kind of verb is that? A maltesism like no other. The proper word would have bene "to favour". J. Ellis.
Well done Dr. Farrugia. We did not have to wait endless years to start implementing electoral promises.