Press Release – 12th October 2015

While the new Budget for the coming year sees the introduction of new tax incentives that will attract buyers to invest in properties in urban conservation areas, and improve the stale-mate situation of inheritance disputes, Din l-Art Ħelwa feels that more assistance should be given to owners of properties in village cores to restore and maintain them. The exemption of MEPA fees in these cases is a very positive move, but other schemes, such as the “gallarija scheme” should be re-introduced, and not only for a specific area of Valletta, as reported in the Budget.

The intention to launch a public consultation to introduce measures to mitigate the unsightliness of unfinished show rooms, should be extended to all unfinished building projects, where an imposition on the completion of facades should be made. This is a good move in the right direction, as is the investment directed at improvements of the urban environment, which should not be limited to touristic areas.

Din l-Art Ħelwa agrees with seeking alternative means of transport, and welcomes every measure to improve the state of our roads, and minimizing of traffic. Investment in public green areas around the greater harbour area, including Floriana and its botanical gardens is very welcome, as is the Nature Park in the South of Malta. Increased use of public reservoirs, and emphasis on the collection and storage of rainwater is a very necessary action, and to be encouraged.

The publication of the studies of a permanent link to Gozo, is a positive development, but Din l-Art Ħelwa is concerned about the implications of a cruise liner terminal and an airstrip.

The 150% reduction of the taxable value of donations to heritage, is a very good idea, and should go a long way towards encouraging sponsors.

The importance of heritage and culture, and its positive effect on the economy, is evident in the Governments intentions to implement The MUSA, the Grand Salon for Costumes, the Contemporary Art Space, il-Villagg tal-Karnival, and the Valletta Design Cluster, as well as projects involving the Hypogeum and the Notarial Archives. The valorization of heritage sites in Gozo, could have been higher, however, and Lower St. Elmo proposals should be inclusive and not only directed towards tourism. The initiative to save traditional skills from being forgotten and investing in the teaching of these is welcome, and could also be directed at Gozo.

While there are many positive actions proposed in this Budget, Din l-Art Ħelwa feels that the Government is not doing enough to direct proposals towards existing buildings and structures. The biggest disappointment is the Governments’ insistence on development in ODZ, as in the American University of Malta and the St. Paul’s Bay School.