Maltese farmers denied crucial EU cash as under-staffed office delays payments

Delayed payments from a €10 million programme has left farmers unable to proceed with timely investments in their farms, EP spokesperson Peter Agius says

Delays in payments from EU funds were preventing farmers from making timely investments due to outdated quotations from suppliers to commence works on their farms
Delays in payments from EU funds were preventing farmers from making timely investments due to outdated quotations from suppliers to commence works on their farms

The spokesperson of the European Parliament’s president has called out Maltese authorities for delaying payments to farmers from EU funds, denying them of important capital spending grants.

Peter Agius, a prospective candidate for the Nationalist Party in the next European elections, said some 100 Maltese farmers had applied for €10 million in grants but were still waiting for the payments to be made.

Agius said the delays were preventing farmers from making timely investments due to outdated quotations from suppliers to commence works on their farms.

“There are over 100 Maltese farmers waiting to start works… they have quotations in hand, they have arranged for builders to start works on site, and other preparations. And yet they can do nothing of the sort because they have not received any reply on their applications for grants – 18 months from when the call for grants was made,” Agius told MaltaToday.

Peter Agius is a prospetive PN candidate for MEP
Peter Agius is a prospetive PN candidate for MEP

The money hails from a €130 million EU funding programme for farms and farming equipment. Maltese farmers filed their applications in January 2017.

Agius has complained that an under-resourced Managing Authority, which processes the funds for the ministry for European Affairs and the parliamentary secretariat for EU funds, is not processing the grants fast enough.

“It is down to administrative shortcomings that these farmers are still waiting to finalise the contract for these funds… there are not enough resources dedicated to this office to process these applications.

“It really shows that farming is not a priority for the Maltese authorities. It is clear Maltese farming is only secondary to such sectors as gaming, financial services and construction,” Agius said.

The total fund for the rural development programme is of €130 million, which is partly funded by the Maltese government – in total €32 million is spent from Maltese resources, with the rest being funded by the EU. Only €5 million has been disbursed so far, according to data from the monitoring committee.

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