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Muscat wants to extend permits expiry deadline

Labour leader Joseph Muscat: “Corruption claim is the tip of the iceberg.” Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Labour leader Joseph Muscat: “Corruption claim is the tip of the iceberg.” Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

A PL government would extend pending development permits beyond their current five-year expiry deadline, Labour leader Joseph Muscat said yesterday.

In an interview held in Santa Venera and aired on One TV, the Labour leader announced the development permit proposal, attacked the Prime Minister for contradictory economic figures and predicted that a cash-for-oil kickback claim involving a former Enemalta procurement official was “just the tip of the iceberg”.

Dr Muscat said extending permits’ five-year validity period would give developers and individuals breathing room and not force them to forge ahead with developments that were no longer suited to the current property market.

Many people were “caught between a rock and a hard place”, forced to either act on existing permits or else let them lapse, he said. He did not elaborate any further on the proposal.

He said the allegation about former Enemalta oil procurement official Frank Sammut was likely “only the tip of the iceberg”, and predicted more revelations would follow once the necessary protective legislation was enacted.

“Unfortunately this Government found the time to build a new parliament but had no time to pass a Whistleblower Act,” he said to applause from the crowd.

He attacked Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi for his vow to balance the budget by 2015. The Government’s own budgetary projections, published last November, forecast a €49 million deficit for that year, he said, telling the audience, “The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing”.

The Labour leader spoke at length about the need to provide widespread community housing for the disabled, and said a PL government would make this the focal point of its social policy.

“Our small size works in our favour. There is no reason why Malta can’t become a model country in this regard,” he said. “We need to give parents of disabled children the peace of mind that our society will not abandon their children once they pass away.”

A proposal to make any inheritance disabled children received completely tax-free would also ease parents’ concerns, he said. Such inheritances would be put into specially established trust funds, administered by third persons with no access to the monies themselves. Dr Muscat first announced these proposals in the afternoon during a visit to Dar Nazareth in Żejtun, a foundation that provides community care for the disabled.

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