Construction lobby boss Sandro Chetcuti paid €19,000 by Maltese government as ‘consultant’

The Maltese government is paying the private sector’s leading construction lobbyist €19,000 to influence its decisions on the property market

MDA boss Sandro Chetcuti. Photo: Ray Attard
MDA boss Sandro Chetcuti. Photo: Ray Attard

The Maltese government is paying construction developer and lobbyist Sandro Chetcuti €19,000 to act as “consultant” to a minister.

Chetcuti, whose Malta Developers Association is one of the island’s most powerful lobbies, grouping both construction giants and real estate companies, was in 2013 invited to the newly-elected government’s official state celebration.

His contribution to the Labour government’s policies favouring the construction industry has now been “formalized” into a €19,000 consultancy role to Chris Agius, the parliamentary secretary for planning and the property market.

Chetcuti yesterday told The Malta Independent that he has “absolutely no conflict of interest” in his role as a lobbyist paid by the Maltese government.

“My appointment as an advisor to the ministry regarding the property market was discussed and approved by the MDA council. My experience within the sector can serve as an asset to any decision-maker. In fact, it is not the first time that I was approached by members of the Opposition party to give advice both on the development sector and the property market. 

“There is absolutely no conflict of interest as I only give advice on what I think is best for the country. Then it is up to the decision maker to decide and implement decisions after taking note of all advice it is given, including, but not only, mine.”

The MDA boss has a Scale 3 salary of €37,920 – paid pro-rata for 20 hours service per week – which would mean payment of €18,960, together with an expertise allowance of €10,000, a car allowance of €2,320 and mobile and internet allowance of up to €815 per annum.

The ministry also provided a brief description of his day-to-day duties, which are: to attend meetings as required by Agius on planning and the property market sector; to attend meetings with officials of the ministry, and provide guidance in relation to the planning and property market sector.

In simple terms, the private industry is being employed by the State to consult on its planning and property laws.

The Maltese government makes regular use of private entrepreneurs to act as consultants: architect Robert Musumeci, a MaltaToday columnist and formerly the chairman of the Building Industry Consultative Council under the Nationalist government, was appointed to advise the government on the demerger of the former Malta Environment and Planning Authority.

In 2013, it appointed Michael Falzon – today a minister – to consult on a new policy for fireworks factories. He was then the lawyer for the Malta Pyrotechnics Association.

And in 2015, hunters’ federation boss Lino Farrugia was being paid just under €1,000 a month for consulting the environment ministry on hunting and trapping, a consultancy which he kept during the contentious referendum on hunting earlier that year. Farrugia was engaged by direct order in January 2014. The hunters’ chief was paid €11,800 over 12 months, The decision to keep Farrugia as a “hunting and trapping specialist” during the hotly contested hunting referendum was highly questionable given that he was leading the Yes campaign while consulting government.

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