‘I don’t see any other route than a Monaco here in Malta’, says construction lobby chief Sandro Chetcuti

In his own words, Malta’s chief construction lobbyist Sandro Chetcuti says that a halt to development would hurt many people…

Sandro Chetcuti: The truth is that we are strongly dependent on foreigners and those who have negative feelings about then should realise that without foreign workers we would have no economy
Sandro Chetcuti: The truth is that we are strongly dependent on foreigners and those who have negative feelings about then should realise that without foreign workers we would have no economy

What have you achieved since MDA was launched?

Though I was probably too optimistic and immature, I managed to make a dream come true. I guess I managed to build a lobby group and I did this by being lucky enough to be in the presence of professional and experienced people. I also think that I also learnt a lot from my mistakes and I was willing to take advice.

How would you list the achievements of the MDA?

The first achievement is to bring the players in the industry together and, secondly, the fact that the government turned out to be very sensitive to the industry.

Much of the growth has been linked to change in policies, one of which was the change in height limitations. This was a game-changer, was it not?

No, the game-changer was the Planning Authority that turned out to be more efficient. Today within some months, one knows where one stands. Certainty motivates you to build success.

There have been many controversies over ODZ, but is the threat of developing ODZ the real problem?

The fact that 70% of Malta cannot be developed means that the prices will remain high

As MDA we have been against development of ODZ but I think that the issue that is really bothering people is related to the inconveniences arising from construction. I believe young contractors are not geared to work in a professional manner. This must change.

The problem with inconvenience is linked to the lack of enforcement. There is no doubt that inconveniences will always happen. We need enforcement and education happening at the same time. Today everyone wants to become a developer. We need to have more respect to our surroundings and the people.

What about the problem of workers in this sector?

Young Maltese do not work in this sector. It is tough work and that is why we need to revisit the trade schools. Young Maltese need to be trained in this segment. The truth is that we are strongly dependent on foreigners and those who have negative feelings about them should realise that without foreign workers we would have no economy.

The game changer was the Planning Authority that turned out to be more efficient

What about the bubble?

Until now there is no sign of a bubble: prices have been going up. There will be some corrections. The study carried out by KPMG shows that prices are still going up. Malta is small and space is limited. It is important to care for our environment. The fact that 70% of Malta cannot be developed means that the prices will remain high.

There is a strong absence of a skyline policy…

I think it is too late to talk of a skyline policy to see to the mistakes of past planning.

Where do you see the market in 10 years?

I do not see any other route than a Monaco here in Malta. We have taken this road. If progress stops, many people will get hurt.

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