The Malta Developers Association told PN leader Bernard Grech on Wednesday that its members want nothing from political parties, except to be allowed to work more freely.
"Let us work. All we ask of any government is to let us chase our dreams with less bureaucracy," president Michael Stivala insisted with Grech.
"This doesn't mean we want to be able to do whatever we want."
The MDA met with the PN leader and candidates Ivan Bartolo, Rebekah Cilia, Toni Bezzina and Ryan Callus at the PN headquarters in Pietà.
Stivala told Grech that most of his colleagues are law-abiding developers, and contrary to popular belief, they do not want to build on ODZ land and that they would like the government to foster a level playing field where healthy competition can flourish.
Grech said he wants to stimulate a give-and-take relationship with developers. He promised them incentives that would create the "much-needed climate of fairness" but said he expects them to acknowledge that they have obligations towards the country and its people.
"It's good to make profits, but those profits cannot be generated at the cost of our people's mental health and their quality of life," Grech told the MDA.
"The buildings we build are also our environment, so as we invest in construction, we must respect standards," he said.
The MDA had pushed forward several suggestions ahead of the election, namely:
- A one-stop shop where developers can apply for and obtain all necessary permits for development.
- Raising the minimum wage to €1,000 per month and decreasing tax on business pro-rata depending on how many workers the business employs.
- Stopping the speculative sale of public land. If the government wants to develop a project in the national interest, it must sell the land at market price, only after it issues a public call aimed at both local and international investors. This way, the government can get the best possible deal for the land.
- Structuring tender processes so that projects are not only awarded to the cheapest bidder but also based on the quality and efficiency of the service provider.
- Investing in schemes to incentivise residents to install more renewable energy sources in their homes.
Grech said he appreciated the MDA's efforts to push the government to introduce state financing for parties.
"I am very worried by this talk of big business and politics being too close to each other."
"There's this perception that business people are buying politicians with their donations. I can only tell you that from our end, that is absolutely not true, but your efforts to speak out in favour of state financing help assure people that politics doesn't need to be corrupt," he said, referring to a Times of Malta interview with former association president Sandro Chetcuti.
Grech went on to list the Nationalist Party's proposals on first-time buyers, the widening of tax brackets for businesses, the addition of 50,000 square metres of ODZ land each year, and a pledge to make ODZ land developable only after a two-thirds majority vote in parliament, among others.