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Minister briefs shop owners on hawkers’ relocation

Economy Minister Chris Cardona yesterday held an informal meeting with Valletta shop owners briefing them on the government’s latest plans about the open air market, the Times of Malta is informed.

Government sources told this newspaper Dr Cardona told owners of shops in Merchants Street the government would be making a final decision shortly but wanted to meet individual monti hawkers before an announcement was made.

“The minister informed shop owners about a possible solution which should go down well with both sides,” the sources said. “However, the minister first plans to meet individually every hawker involved before pronouncing himself publicly,” they added.

When contacted, a spokes­man for the Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises – GRTU refused to give any information on the discussions held.

The hawkers warned the government of ‘serious trouble’ if the minister did not honour an agreement on an alternative site

A planned meeting with the hawkers on Thursday was postponed at the eleventh hour because only a handful of the 74 licensed owners involved in the saga of the siting of the monti attended.

The hawkers, through their lawyer Claire Bonello, warned the government of “serious trouble” if the minister did not honour an agreement on an alternative site they claimed was reached in 2014.

The issue of the relocation of the Valletta monti has been haunting the government for more than a year. Following a decision by Dr Cardona to relocate the monti to Ordnance Street, outside the new Parliament building, a controversy erupted and the minister had to reverse his decision.

In the meantime, the shop owners of Merchants Street objected vociferously to the government’s new plans to move the monti to the upper part of the road, accusing the Prime Minister of going back on an agreement he struck with them before the election.

According to the Merchants Street shop-owners association, Joseph Muscat told them the monti hawkers would not remain in Merchants Street.

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