‘Since we’ve been in government, we didn’t come up with any policies which increased development’ – PM
Prime Minister Robert Abela on Wednesday said that since it’s been in government, the Labour Party did not implement any planning policies which increased construction development around the country.
Abela was asked by journalists on Wednesday what his government had done to address the 2006 rationalisation exercise which he has, time and time again, described as the act which has caused the greatest environmental to Malta this century.
“Since we’ve been in government, we didn’t implement any policies which increased development,” Abela said.
He said that the reality is that the government had its hands tied by a legal framework from 2006, which he said had led to ODZ land the size of Siggiewi and which, he added, was drafted by the person who is now Bernard Grech’s right-hand man.
However, he said, the government’s “new priority” is to protect the environment, while allowing the economic wheel to turn.
Asked what he would be doing to reverse such a policy though, Abela said that changing the rationalisation exercise would “expose the country to enormous damages”, wherein anyone with a property on such land would take the government to court for compensation because it would not be developable anymore.
He pointed out how the PN has not included any such measure in its own manifesto either.
“But still, I must say that the authorities concerned need to apply their policies in such a manner that it is within the context of the government’s new environmental priorities. We cannot continue to stretch our policies beyond the realms of reason,” Abela said.
Asked about statements he made about the Labour Party and good governance and whether he is comfortable having people like Rosianne Cutajar and Edward Zammit Lewis as candidates despite their own scandals meanwhile, Abela said that his government had always acted when there was a case of bad governance.
“In Rosianne Cutajar’s case, she paid the price as when the Standards Commissioner made his report on her public, she resigned from her role. Now it is up to the people to make their judgement on whether she should be elected,” he said.
Cutajar had resigned after an investigation by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler over a failed property deal involving Yorgen Fenech. Hyzler had found that Cutajar breached ethics when she acted as a broker and had “more likely than not” received a €46,000 fee. She had also failed to declare a €9,000 gift she had received from Fenech.
Earlier this week, it was reported that she received €28,000 as a terminal benefit as part of an agreement that is in place for resigning ministers and parliamentary secretaries – something which Abela hinted that he did not agree with.