The MaYA Foundation together with Moviment Graffitti would like to, first of all, question the timing of this Bill which was tabled for the first reading on the same day as the Publication of the White Paper on the Reform in the Acquisition and Ownership of Farmland. This sheds doubt on whether this was done in a healthy spirit of goodwill and collaboration among all the interested stakeholders, or whether the White Paper was construed as a cosmetic ‘box-ticking’ exercise by the Ministry.
Both organisations share deep reservations for the Bill that, by the time of the deadline for submissions on the White Paper, has already reached the advanced stage of the Second Reading in Parliament. Unfortunately, the Bill comes at a time when the sector is still waiting for an important jurisprudential pronouncement that could very well change the scenario with regard to the constitutionality of agricultural leases. Moreover, should this Bill become law, it might create more uncertainty than it resolves.
The MaYA Foundation together with Moviment Graffitti would like to, respectfully, make the following submissions for the kind consideration of the Ministerial representatives as well as Parliament:
(i) that the exclusion of potential recreational or other uses from the valuation process be inserted in a proviso to the article 2A(e);
(ii) that the “1.5% per annum of the value of the land free and unencumbered on the open market” capping be replaced by a “50% per annum of the market rental value of the land”; this market rental value will be determined by listed specific criteria included in the legislation as recommended below in (iii);
(iii) that the criteria of paragraph (c) of the existing sub-article 3(2) be incorporated into paragraph (c) of the proposed new article 3(2A);
(iv) that the words “the means of the tenant, the circumstances and the condition of the agricultural land and any burden that is disproportionate to the lessor” of paragraph (c) of the proposed new article 3(2A), be deleted;
(v) that the law clarified what is meant by “residence”, and “tenant”, and what happens at the end of eight-year period, in the proposed new fourth proviso to article 4(2);
(vi) that any further discussions on the Bill be postponed until the delivery of the Constitutional Court judgment of Vincenza sive Sina Magro v. L-Avukat Tal-iStat et.
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