Construction industry hit by damage to Malta's reputation, developers’ lobby boss warns

Malta Developers' Association president Sandro Chetcuti says the construction market has been negatively affected by damage to Malta's image and urges government to address the situation quickly

Sandro Chetcuti (left) welcomed Robert Abela and Aaron Farrugia at the MDA offices
Sandro Chetcuti (left) welcomed Robert Abela and Aaron Farrugia at the MDA offices

The construction industry has suffered significant setbacks due to the damage to Malta's reputation brought on by the recent political turbulence, Sandro Chetcuti warned.

The Malta Developers' Association boss told Prime Minister Robert Abela that the construction market had lost its confidence, investors had become reluctant and demand had lessened.

Chetcuti was welcoming Abela at the MDA offices in Gwardamanga on Friday morning. The visit is part of Abela’s charm offensive since becoming prime minister. He was accompanied by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia.

Chetcuti urged the Prime Minister to clearly show that the reputational harm would be addressed, underlining that the sector, which employs 42,000 people, depended a lot on the country’s positive image.

Banks, he lamented, "were not helping the situation at all."

"We need a clear sign from the government that the big storm which hit us can pass and that together we can restore positive feelings in those who want to invest in our country," Chetcuti said.

He also called for a change in the way politics is done, emphasising that the time had come for a "full-time Parliament" where MPs no longer remained part-timers and received adequate compensation for their work.

He went on to underscore that the MDA felt that political parties should no longer depend on donations and generosity.

"We are in favour of public financing [for political parties] and the abolition of the donations system," he said.

MDA members, he said, were tired of being unjustly associated with donations to political parties. "Our members are victims of a bad system which leads to needless suspicion."

Adding that the needed changes had to be put in place promptly, he said the MDA would support the government in its efforts.

Good governance compliments economic growth - Abela

Abela conceded that the events of the past months had "some impact" on the construction industry.

The government, however, had already given its first signs of its commitment to good governance, he said. "I always believed that good governance compliments economic growth.”

There were still changes which needed to be made, he said, but these couldn't all be done in a single week.

Abela said there had to be a balance to ensure good governance did not in any way hamper the economy.

"We are here to say we believe in the construction industry. It absolutely will not be held back as long as things are done cautiously, prudently and intelligently," he said.

The Prime Minister said the environment, development and planning could go hand in hand, and that he looked forward to the future in this regard.

Abela's meeting with Chetcuti at the MDA premises marks the first time a Prime Minister visited the association's headquarters.

The meeting continued behind closed doors.

More in National