Updated 5.20pm

Marthese Portelli has been appointed the director-general of the Malta Developers’ Association, becoming the lead figure of the powerful lobby group just weeks after resigning her seat in parliament.

Portelli is the first person to hold the post, which will see her lead the association's administration. Her appointment was approved by the MDA’s council on Friday.

Welcoming this appointment, MDA president Sandro Chetcuti said that Portelli’s appointment sent a clear message that the MDA was serious about “putting the industry at the forefront of sustainable and pro-environment policies which need to be addressed”.

Chetcuti said that he was confident that Portelli would help the MDA advance the twin causes of the development and the environment, to the benefit of both.

The MDA president has said he does not intend to seek reelection, despite members of the MDA having petitioned him to stay on as its leader.

Portelli served as a Nationalist Party MP until last month, when she resigned without warning and with little explanation.

During her time in parliament, she served as shadow spokesperson for the environment as well as the PN’s representative on the Planning Authority board.

She quit that role in protest at a PA decision to allow Gozitan magnate Joseph Portelli to turn a small countryside room into a villa in Qala. She has also argued that politicians should not sit on the planning board.  

Portelli said she was “quite surprised” to have been offered the role but looked forward to the challenges ahead.

“Apart from the complexity and controversial aspects of the industry which need to be tackled, the construction industry remains essential to our future and needs a more sustainable footing. In the current situation, the country and the industry are facing unprecedented challenges and need determined action to avoid massive future problems,” she said.

The MDA counts more than 1,000 members within its ranks, ranging from developers to contractors, estate agents, landlords and quarry owners.

In a statement, NGO Repubblika said it was not wise for politicians to join "such a controversial lobby" so soon after leaving political life.

"Apart from the risks this creates, this behaviour undermines public faith," the NGO said.

"The construction industry is controlled more by speculators than developers; their links to politicians have resulted in the loss of people's faith and the destruction of our country's natural and urban environments."

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