There are areas in Malta and Gozo which have not benefitted as much from economic growth, or which have gone through significant demographic changes over time. For these areas, it is not time to shift focus completely away from economic growth or physical investment. Rather it is the time for their particular problems to be addressed resolutely.
This is exactly what underpins one of the highlights of Labour’s manifesto, which is the national plan for economic and social regeneration.
A new Labour Government will be conducting an in-depth socioeconomic assessment of the localities where such interventions are most needed.
Thus, for the first time, a Maltese Government will be conducting a regional policy directed to parts of the main island, rather than just at Gozo.
There are two particular policy strands at play here. For those localities where commercial activity has fallen in importance, as the nature of economic relationships changed, the focus will be principally on attracting new business.
For others where there has been a considerable demographic change, the focus will be on making sure that these areas benefit from an upgrade and are made fit for their new population requirements.
The special grant to first-time buyers who buy in UCA or go for vacant properties located in this area will be set at €30,000 like in Gozo.
Business incentive schemes for these areas will be at least 10% more generous than those for other localities.
Start-ups in these localities will be given a grant of €15,000.
Existing businesses that renovate their buildings will be able to apply for a 50% refund of their costs for up to €15,000.
Businesses in these localities will also benefit from a payment covering up to 30% of the cost on wages, up to €6,000 per worker.
At the same time, the Government is committed that it will prioritise projects in these areas (and in Gozo) when it will be spending the €700 million environmental projects budget.
All together the sum allocated to this measure will be €65 million, a sum which will surely make a real difference to the families and businesses of these localities.