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Proposed law to pave way for cremation services

Bidding farewell to loved ones could become more affordable for those not owning a grave

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Photo: Shutterstock.com

The Cremation Bill, which could make bidding farewells to loved ones more affordable to those not owning a grave, is expected to be presented in Parliament when the House reconvenes after the Christmas break.

There are no crematoria in Malta despite consistent calls for an alternative to traditional forms of burial.

Last month, Health Minister Chris Fearne said the government will be proposing a law to introduce Malta’s first crematorium for humans, spearheaded by Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar.

When contacted, Ms Cutajar said although cremation was not yet offered in Malta, there are “a good number of people” who opt for cremation abroad. Seeking cremation services abroad, which include among others, freight expenses, could reach up to €5,500.

“This means that there is already an interest and I am sure that it will gain popularity as soon as it is introduced,” she said. 

Cremation is a world-known practice and it is found in almost every EU country

Among those who reacted to the news of a Cremation Bill, the Malta Humanist Association insisted that the service should be cheaper than a usual burial, allow for funeral services of up to 300 people and be environmentally-friendly.

Noting that she had met with the association, Ms Cutajar said the Bill was aimed at providing a legal framework for cremation. However, it was also taking into consideration new techniques such as alkaline hydrolysis, available in 16 American states.

Nowadays cremations were done in a very environment-friendly way and required no harmful chemicals, Ms Cutajar said.

Asked whether the private sector had expressed interest in setting up facilities, Ms Cutajar said that over the past years people from the private sector had applied with the Planning Authority to build a crematorium. The applications were, obviously, turned down because so far there is no legal framework to regulate cremation.

“I am quite sure that there will be a lot of interest from both the local and foreign private sectors as soon as this private member’s Bill is agreed upon,” she said.

 Ms Cutajar added: “We would like cremation to be a more affordable option because we are aware that owning a grave could be expensive for some.”

The Bill will be presented in Parliament at the beginning of next year.

“Cremation is a world-known practice and it is found in almost every EU country,” Ms Cutajar said.

“I believe that as an EU country we should offer an alternative to the normal burial. Apart from being a personal choice, cremation is more hygienic and helps save ground space, which in our country is already very limited.”

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