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Reference Number: PR190249, Press Release Issue Date: Feb 08, 2019
Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change José Herrera, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market Chris Agius and Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights Clint Camilleri addressed a press conference about Legal Notice 438 which particularly treats the transfer of agricultural land on a lease.

“We fully acknowledge that agricultural land is essential for the Maltese farmer, especially those who need to earn their daily bread from this sector. We need to ensure that the use of this land remains particular to farmers and does not end up being given to speculation. It is in this spirit that, through coordinated work between my ministry and the ministry of Ian Borg, we pushed forward to introduce these regulations”, said Minister Herrera.

Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg spoke about how this government has once again addressed a situation which had been a reality in our country for decades, where agricultural land which can be cultivated to bear fruit could not genuinely be passed on to farmers who have at heart the agriculture sector and who are willing to cultivate it to earn their livelihood. The minister said that the challenge of agricultural land transfer has been coming for several years and the members of the Opposition were certainly not the ones who took action.

This Government, however, is aware that the farmers we have in our country are an important resource that not only help us to have genuine Maltese products and contribute positively to the country’s economy, but also to continue improving Malta and Gozo’s landscape, and government has therefore worked to solve this issue. He explained how this law will also be addressing the problem of land speculation and therefore government cannot understand how the Opposition is suggesting an amendment that can make way for speculation. However, this government will be discussing these amendments in Parliament to continue ensuring that if there is a suggestion that can in any way continue improving the benefits resulting from this law, then this can be considered.

“This government’s final aim has always been and will always be to see that the standard of living and the quality of life of all parts of Maltese society, including agricultural society, continue increasing and improving. I think that this government has already taken an important step when putting into place this law which was greatly needed to give a clear direction to farmers about land transfer and to finally eliminate agricultural land speculation”, said Minister Borg.

From his end, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market Chris Agius explained how through this legal notice, government is ensuring genuine transfer between farmers so that it is giving this opportunity to farmers who have retired or are no longer cultivating the land and who have a lease with the government but have no one to pass it on to.

“What we are not permitting is the transfer of lands which have within them buildings larger than 40 square metres. This was done on purpose – we want to eliminate speculation. We cannot permit farmhouses on lease from the government or the Joint Office to pass from one person to another in this way as was proposed by the Opposition. These will only be able to be passed on to members of the family, as has always been the case. Our aim is not to facilitate commercial interests but to facilitate the work of Maltese and Gozitan farmers and to strengthen the farming sector in our country”, concluded the Chris Agius.

Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri, who is responsible for agriculture, stressed that these regulations being introduced are in their entirety part of the government’s holistic policy about the agricultural sector launched last year, where the need for amendments with regard to land transfer or assignment was stipulated. “This once again shows that as a government, we are committed to continue working to increase sustainability in this sector,” said the Hon. Camilleri.

Photos: DOI / MTIP