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Public funds for private recreation

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The government opened the coffers of the National Development and Social Fund – ie. the cash-for-passports piggy bank – and is busy spending the money they’ve earned by selling unlimited access to other people’s countries.

The last beneficiary of this largesse is something on the verge of extinction.

No, not trees.

I’m not talking about open space, nor a sense of personal responsibility. The latter died several years ago.

I’m talking about music clubs.

In a heroic effort to prevent this rapidly vanishing remnant of Maltese heritage from falling into obscurity, Parliamentary Secretary for Communities and Citizenship Alex Muscat has announced that the country’s richest slush fund will buy private property occupied by music clubs at risk of eviction. because they cannot pay their rent.

By claiming that the government would indulge in such financial largesse without touching public funds or affecting the Maltese taxpayer, it must have forgotten who owned the IIP slush fund.

Either way, once they have bought these properties with your money, the government will then rent them out to the same music clubs that cannot pay their rent to their current owners, and will do so at subsidized prices ( i.e. subsidized by you).

Muscat said: “With funds generated from Maltese initiatives leading to residency and citizenship, we are now able to provide peace of mind to the hundreds of people who care about music clubs. In doing so, we offer an advantageous solution to owners, since they will be offered a competitive price according to the current market.

What if the owner just wants their property back? If the rule of law worked unhindered, these properties would ultimately be returned to their original owners, who may well be willing to reuse them.

In such cases, the government “does not rule out” the purchase of other properties in the same area for homeless music clubs. I wonder who they are going to buy them from? Will they tackle one of the many vacant properties in the heart of the villages? Or will it be a new development vomited by one of the usual suspects? Watch this space closely.

Clubs were already protected by an old rent law that chained landlords to tenants who pay rent well below current market rates, often for years, or not at all. But recent legal challenges by exasperated homeowners have resulted in evictions, hence the crisis.

The solution seems decidedly strange.

Buying a property with public funds in order to bail out tenants who haven’t paid their rent already below market value, only to re-let those properties to those same non-paying tenants, with taxpayers stuck with the difference.

Anyone who manages that particular investment fund may want to reissue their numbers.

A little over a year ago, Culture Minister Jose Herrera announced that music clubs, fireworks factories and other village party officials could be eligible for funding. of € 450,000.

Herrera launched another € 150,000 financial aid program for party associations, this time to fund banners, lights and decorations.

And earlier this year, the Arts Council distributed € 170,000 as part of the annual funding for fireworks factories.

“Fireworks are not only part of our local cultural heritage,” said Minister Herrera, “they bring together a community of enthusiasts who work daily to produce the highest quality fireworks displays, and we should always seek to support their efforts. by investing in the infrastructure needed to improve important things like security.

By ‘community of enthusiasts’ he means ‘people with a hobby’. A very loud hobby, yes. The one who threw me out of bed at 8 a.m. for fear of a Libyan invasion or the walls collapsing around me due to a sonic attack.

I’ve often wondered why they wouldn’t indulge in a more peaceful hobby, like stamp collecting or photography, or the rich Maltese heritage of craftsmanship. Someone to read? No…?

I guess some people just like the loud noise, and so everyone should enjoy it too. It includes the joy of paying for it.

Are music clubs really in danger of disappearing? Will the village festival fade into the darkness with a last burst of firecrackers? Maybe it’s just a perception, but they’ve always struck me as pretty popular.

Here is a helpful suggestion. Whenever my monthly budget gets a little tight, I immediately put money aside for rent and cut back on non-essential expenses. For some people, it could be cigarettes. For others, it may be a restaurant meal or monthly excess expenses like television.

Maybe festa enthusiasts could consider spending a little less money on high explosives and renting it out instead? I mean, would anyone really notice a few less firecrackers?

I haven’t seen any recent numbers, but I remember a 2012 National Statistics Office (NSO) report that said village festivals cost an average of $ 12,155 per year. This number would increase if music clubs and fireworks factories were included – in some cases above € 100,000.

Much of these costs are funded by donations – money and free labor – including money donated by participants themselves to fund the hobbies they enjoy. Surely if their beloved group club was about to be kicked out, then supporters of this hobby would come together to raise money?

Ownership needs to be on the minds of Labor, as music club rents aren’t the only housing expenses about to be funded from the passport slush fund. The government is also considering acting as a guarantor for applicants who are not eligible for home loans.

Social Housing Minister Roderick Galdes said the € 3million scheme would apply to around 40 families who cannot get a loan because they do not have life insurance.

If you can’t get life insurance at all, or if you can’t afford the higher rates because you’ve had a serious health problem in the past, simply file with the Housing Authority for a your doctor’s note explaining your condition, pay the annual program participation fee, and the government will ensure that you receive a letter to give to your bank asking them to grant you the loan.

It is a win-win situation for the building industry and the future owner.

Yet guaranteeing bank loans to people who are not entitled to them seems to me a strange use of public funds. Why not take a closer look at the life insurance requirement or invest the money in income-friendly social housing?

In the worst case scenario, I guess they could still kick the music clubs out and use the properties they bought as social housing.

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