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Angry Valletta hawkers say they have been deceived

Hawkers have reacted angrily to the news, revealed by Times of Malta yesterday, that plans to place monti stalls near the new Parliament and the former opera house have been dropped.

Economic Services Minister Chris Cardona said the Valletta market will be reduced so that the stalls will fit into Ordnance Street between Republic Street and Bakery Street. Stall owners who give up their licence will be compensated.

Some hawkers yesterday accused the government of breaching a pre-election agreement.

“We have been deceived. The government has gambled with our vote,” monti hawkers’ committee member Julian Buhagiar said. His sentiment was echoed by others who expressed their “disbelief, shock and anger.”

“We have been thrown from the frying pan into the fire and have been conned,” one hawker said. “As a lifelong Labour supporter I never expected such treatment from this government.”

Between 10 and 15 of the existing 74 hawkers will have to be compensated by the government for surrendering their licence. However, this figure is already being contested by hawkers who claim that unless the size of their stalls is reduced significantly, they will still not fit on the one side of Ordnance Street.

Asked if they would be interested in surrendering their licences, hawkers said they would only consider such an option if the compensation was in the region of €100,000.

“If government tables an offer on the same level made a few years ago during the PN administration, I would not even consider it,” a hawker insisted.
Under this plan, which had been agreed in 2007, the number of stalls was reduced by about 40, with each hawker receiving compensation of about €23,300.
 

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