[WATCH] Government bonds can fund solution for empty housing, Robert Abela says

Dilapidated properties can be regenerated using bond issue funding, and sold at market prices to solve housing issue while avoiding building on unspoiled land

Robert Abela said dilapidated housing can be regenerated from bond issue funds to help solve the housing problem
Robert Abela said dilapidated housing can be regenerated from bond issue funds to help solve the housing problem

Labour leadership hopeful Robert Abela is proposing the setting up of an authority responsible for allocated unused properties to people facing housing problems.

The dilapidated empty properties - which number in their thousands in Malta - will be regenerated, before they are allocated, through funding obtained by the issuance of a bond issue, Abela said during a press conference in Hamrun on Friday.

The bond investors would recoup their investment from the rents paid by the tenants of the newly allocated and regenerated houses.

Moreover, the rents charged to tenants will correspond to their level of income, ensuring that they are affordable.

Abela said that the authority would buy the dilapidated units from their owners at market price. After regenerating them, it would then take applications from people looking for housing and would allocate the units by giving priority to those most in need.

"This innovative system will preserve the environment, since no virgin need will be needed to turn into housing units," Abela said, highlighting that the housing units could be made available quickly, since they properties are already built and no Planning Authority permits would be needed.

"It will also serve as an investment for people, which will kick-start the economy once we re-stabilise the country," he underscored.

Abela said that around 4,000 empty properties had already been identified which can used for this purpose. The properties will be split into tranches of 500 residences, he said, remarking that similar models had been successful abroad.

The proposal, Abela said, would help solve the issue of unaffordable housing and sky-high rents which came about as a result of economic expansion.

Salaries have to rise, minimum wage increase to be considered

Asked by MaltaToday - in relation to another proposal he had made regarding ensuring that salaries in any sector are at least equivalent across the board to the average salary of the sector - whether he would also commit himself to raising the country’s minimum wage, Abela said he was not excluding anything, emphasising that “in general, salaries in Malta have to rise.”

“I’ve put forward the proposal of equal pay for work of equal value. I feel this is the step forward needed in today’s strong, vibrant economy, where it is no longer acceptable that people working in the same place doing the same work earn different salaries,” he said.

Pressed on whether he felt raising the minimum wage would be the courageous move to take in order to ensure everyone earned enough to life a decent life, Abela said he was “ready to consider any measures which improve quality of life - and yes, including raising salaries.”

Regulations have to be enforced for foreign workers

Regarding whether his proposal to better regulate the employment of foreign workers and if this could threaten economic growth, Abela responded that it wouldn’t, because he was in no way saying that Malta should have less foreigners working on the island.

“I didn’t say we should have less foreign workers. I said there should be more enforcement of the regulations and that employers must observe the rules,” he said.


“You can’t have people working without a permit and in unsuitable conditions - in such instances, measures have to be taken, including denying such employers a permit to employ foreigners.”

He added that it must be ensured that foreigners are paid a decent salary, otherwise there would be pressure of the pay of Maltese nationals to also decrease. “And this is not something we want.”