I sometimes want to pinch myself for being born and bred Maltese – when I see the extraordinary construction boom going on around us, which all has its beginnings from when Malta joined Europe 13 years ago and adopted the euro currency thereafter.
This line in the sand changed the perception of Malta from a tiny rock in the middle of the Mediterranean sea to being part of a much bigger continent – Europe – and all that goes with it: freedom of movement and a world class stable currency, the euro.
This has encouraged many overseas companies to relocate to our shores, both in the financial services industry and other industries of that unheard of till a few years ago: the iGaming business, which today accounts for double digit GDP growth of our economy.
We are now witnessing new government schemes to encourage non-EU nationals to opt for our citizenship or residency schemes by their thousands. This is creating a business in its own right and is having a very positive ripple effect on the Maltese economy and property values, as part of the requirements for such schemes is the mandatory purchase or rental of property in Malta or Gozo.
Unfortunately, our infrastructure particularly the road network, leaves much to be desired
Today Malta has only four high towers; incredibly, over 25 more have recently been given the green light by the Planning Authority, giving a clear indication of the massive increase in development to come over the next five to 10 years.
All of this just to catch up with the demand we have coming from industries that are growing by leaps and bounds.
This demand is mainly for bespoke office and residential developments or mixed use with shopping malls in tow. Besides the golden mile, where most of the activity is centred, we are witnessing new towns being built from scratch. One fine example is Smart City in the south of the island, which today has a cluster of office blocks and is about to see a new residential and shopping mall built over the next four years. To serve this new area of business activity, a new hospital and a Marriott hotel is also being built within the city.
We are witnessing new industries, such as health, tourism and education tourism, all contributing to a higher demand for property on the island.
Unfortunately though, our infrastructure particularly the road network, leaves much to be desired, we are constantly trying to catch up on this front – at the cost of the frustration of a nation that spends far too much time commuting instead of being productive.
Interestingly enough, rental income still generates a yield of over five per cent in many cases for a property investment; this is enticing many local and international investors to have a Malta property portfolio as part of their international holdings, particularly for those who want a good return on capital together with long-term capital growth.
While we expect the market to continue to grow, we must be mindful that the government has an important role in ensuring that it continues to invest in the islands’ expanding infrastructure.
Especially if we are to expect major international companies to fly the Maltese flag.
Christopher Pace is chairman, Chestertons Malta.