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Planning extensions will come with conditions - Muscat

Dr Muscat speaking to one of the company bosses at Ascent Software.

Dr Muscat speaking to one of the company bosses at Ascent Software.

A Labour proposal to extend planning permits beyond their five year expiry date will come with conditions attached, according to Joseph Muscat.

The Labour leader said the extension will not be open-ended but did not elaborate when asked by timesofmalta.com about the proposal he made on Monday.

Dr Muscat insisted the Labour Party will shortly announce a package of proposals aimed at reforming the planning process and more details will be given then about the extension.

"There will be a process to obtain the extension and this will also be linked to the local plans. Extensions will not be ad eternum," he said.

Dr Muscat reiterated there were situations where developers, who had taken years to obtain a permit had difficulty to develop the site within the stipulated time frame.

"The options they have are either to lose the permit after five years and re-apply at a later stage with all the costs involved or else start to commit the site within the five years at unfavorable economic conditions," he explained, adding Labour was committed to address this situation.

Dr Muscat visited the offices of software company Ascent in Luqa where he heard company bosses say they were not finding enough people to employ in the ICT sector.

Acknowledging the big advancements in the sector achieved by the Nationalist administration, Dr Muscat said a Labour government was committed to ensure the sector's growth and emphasised the importance of continuous personal development.

In a brief question-and-answer session with employees, Dr Muscat said incentives will be launched to encourage private companies introduce family-friendly measures.

The Labour leader was also asked about his party's plans for Smart City. "It is not an excuse for us to say there are not enough people to fill in the vacancies that would have been created. We are committed to see this project come to fruition through more collaboration between the government and the private sector," Dr Muscat said.

In a light moment, an employee asked Dr Muscat whether he found time to spend with his family. It elicited a smile from those around.

"I try to manage my time well but the difficulties are the same every other parent faces. I prepare my daughters for school in the morning and that is when I catch up with what they are doing. In this campaign I have also tried to keep Saturday mornings off to dedicate time to my children," he said, adding that this morning they woke him up because they wanted to sing happy birthday.

Dr Muscat turned 39 today.

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