Why this story matters:
Malta's construction boom is forcing the government to walk a fine line: while property planning creates many jobs, new construction sites could threaten the environment and hurt tourism if a substantial part of Malta loses its Mediterranean look.
These allegations of corruption highlight the threat of shady dealings between the government and the private sector, which could interfere in the decision-making process and increase the likelihood of poor governance.
The burning question is: is the construction industry in bed with the Maltese government?
Perhaps partially, but it's still unclear to which degree. Hence the importance of keeping a watch on public officials spending the country's money on one-sided lobbyists. After all, if the environment and architecture of Malta are squandered away during the boom, the changes will be irreversible.
Details from the story:
- Construction lobby boss Sandro Chetcuti has been hired by the Maltese government as a "consultant" to the parliamentary secretary for planning and the property market.
- Mariello Spiteri, the director of an architecture firm that conducts environmental assessments for private developers, was hired as a full-time member of the Malta Planning Authority's planning commission.
- Spiteri's wife, meanwhile, was appointed to head Malta's Environment and Resources Authority.
- Recent controversial building decisions include encroaching on rural land to extend car parks, converting a heritage building into a large hotel, and building a high-rise close to the seashore.
- Last year the Malta Planning Authority board rejected only 7 out of 75 applications.