Fabian Demicoli

TA’ QALI CRAFTS VILLAGE

GRTU last week has written to Malta Enterprise regarding a meeting with the Ta' Qali Crafts Village operators. During this meeting GRTU had the opportunity to explain to them the ME/MIP policy and urge them to conform as soon as possible so that this project is finally settled.

 

A number of points from the discussion have been raised:

  • The draft contract needs to be amended so that it becomes less burdensome when a second or a third transfer of lease is registered. They feel that the sharp increase in rates applicable will affect the value of the property, given that they will be investing directly from their own funds.
  • The vast majority of the operators are willing to finance the building within the planning guidelines as approved by ME/MIP and by MEPA. They however feel that current MEPA charges are too high, given also the fact that ME/MIP/Government have already paid substantial funds to MEPA for the approval of the previous Government proposed project. The operators strongly argue to disagree with MEPA and with the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for tourism and environment for the settlement of a nominal fee per individual permit. MEPA cannot honestly object to such a proposal as it has already been paid handsomely for a project which has still not materialized
  • A small number of operators require only small additions and small infrastructural changes and there is no need to go into heavy new construction investment as investment has already been effected throughout the years. The operators argue to be lenient on the absolute figure of the investment commitment, at least in the initial first 5 years.
  • Operators are concerned that no discussion has been held on the whole plan for the Crafts Village. They are concerned that they are not aware of important details like exits and entries, parking facilities and the overall circular flow. They feel that before they commit ME/MIP should also be committed to an outline plan which will only be altered with the consent of the lease holders.
  • Operators would also prefer to have a specific commitment by ME/MIP on the volume design and standard time-scale of execution of the proposed ME/MIP financed Public Areas investments.
  • A number of operators will continue to operate from the area which is incorporated in the National Park zone. These operators would like to have the opportunity to continue to operate as a small craft centre within the National Park. These operators argue to open discussions with the Ministry responsible for the National Park so that this project extension could materialize with the assistance of ME/MIP. This in practice would be an extension of the Ta' Qali Crafts Village.
  • The operators also argue to start immediate discussions with the Ministry responsible for transport and Arriva so that public transport services to the Crafts Village even before the new project materializes is improved at least to the level that existed before Arriva started its operations. As things stand today there is no direct service from Valletta, Sliema area and St Paul's Bay/Qawra area, and tourists pass through Ta' Qali without even realizing that the destination "Village" is actually the Crafts Village.
  • A number of operators have still not fixed the final appointment with ME/MIP. I strongly argue to cause Ian Robertson to fix appointment with each and everyone.
  • A major complaint by the operators concerned the maintenance and cleaning of the public areas. They request you to reconsider these charges. They draw your attention to the fact that most of the dirt and damage is not really caused by people visiting the Crafts Village during opening hours but the Crafts Village is suffering tremendously by the weekend activities held at Numero Uno and the weekend family leisure activities. The litter is a problem, the operators request you to take it up seriously with the authorities concerned so that an enforcement plan could be put into action. The operators request you to consider a maintenance charge that is more commensurate with the lease rates given, also that these operators are self-employed and all additional charges directly affect their take home pay and that they cannot further lower the prices of the crafts they sell as they are already in a competitive un favorable position in relation to imports from the far east.
  • The operators also continue to insist that no changes should be made to the current commitment that the lease is reviewable every 25 years, during which no increases and transfer of lease are acceptable.
  • Finally, while arguing to press for the earliest resolution of all pending issues, the operators request you to extend the deadline due at the end of September by a suitable period, enough to settle all pending issues.

GRTU will continue to persist in provide its services to ensure that this longstanding issue is finally settled.

GRTU has so far not received a reply

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