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MALTATODAY 25 September 2022

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9 NEWS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 25 SEPTEMBER 2022 Other services 21 Wholesale, retail, motor repairs 171 Real estate 184 Professional, scientific & technical 207 Energy supply 254 Manufacturing 359 Agriculture, forestry and fishing 487 Construction 528 ICT 698 Arts, entertainment and recreation 798 Finance, insurance 882 Water, sewerage and waste 1196 Transport & storage 1234 Admin & support services 2916 Health and social work 11873 Education 12386 Public admin, defence, social security 16933 Public service size 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022-Apr 35.9% 36% 34.1% 32.2% 30.8% 29.2% 27.9% 27.3% 27.2% 25.8% 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022-Apr Public sector size as at April 2022 (latest data) NICOLE MEILAQ PROPERTY prices have grown by 6.7% since last year, accord- ing to figures published by the National Statistics Office. The Immovable Property Price Index traces price growth in the property market using 2004 at its base year. As published in the govern- ment gazette last month, the provisional index at 2022 stands at 222.33 – meaning houses are twice what they costed back in 2004 – up from 208.37 in the year before. Indeed, the rate of change be- tween 2021-2022 was the larg- est growth spurt to date. The last time the rate of change in- creased by over 6% was in 2019, when the property index grew by 6.5% between 2018-2019. The immovable property price index confirms what research- ers have established before. The local property market saw mas- sive growth between 2015 and 2022. If a property was priced at €151,000 in 2015, it is now val- ued at €222,000. COVID-19 was no match for the property market either. Pric- es continued to grow at rates of 5.5% and 4.6%, which were still higher than the change rates seen between 2011 and 2015. While the rate of change slowed during the pandemic, it is now back on its previous tra- jectory of rising prices. Government introduced a re- duced tax and duty rate of 5% and 1.5% respectively on the first €400,000 of immovable property's value. This reduction had been a temporary COV- ID-19 measure introduced in 2020 to keep the property mar- ket afloat. The registration date of the final deed on property trans- actions eligible for the scheme had been extended from the end of June 2022 to September 2022. Jerome Caruana Cilia, the Na- tionalist Party's spokesperson for finance, proposed that the scheme be extended until at least the end of January 2023. Many researchers have been trying to gain insights into Mal- ta's property market. Last June, Dhalia Real Estate and Grant Thorton collaborated on a study and found that today's house prices are double what they were in 2013, with fast growth recorded in the five years lead- ing up to 2019. But is this sustainable? Dan- iel Gravino, the economist who presented the report and find- ings, had said that current mar- ket prices are "just sustainable". The market can only remain stable if incomes remain stable too. If property prices go up, in- comes will have to grow too. In a separate study from last August, economists Glen Spi- teri and Marie Briguglio found that single people living in Mal- ta have little hopes of buying a property unless they buy it with another person or inherit a fam- ily property. Property prices are far from hoomogenous. Last year, the Central Bank of Malta devel- oped its own housing index, using Sliema property as a base, to compare real estate prices across the country. According to the index, the cheapest rental properties with respect to Sliema were found in Gozo. One-bedroom apart- ments average at a monthly ask- ing price that is 64.3% less than a comparable unit in Sliema. But Gozo might not be safe from rising property prices in the long term. A separate prop- erty market report by Djar and EY showed that the Gozo prop- erty market had been reporting persistent price growth across the island, indicating continued price convergence and increas- ing homogeneity between the two islands. After COVID, property back up to 2019 high COVID-19 no match for the property market as prices are rising faster than ever Public sector employment: growth In this chart by MaltaToday's newsroom, the relative growth of the Maltese public sector in terms of jobs is charted from 2013 to latest date in April 2022. Although it has grown from a total of 42,000 employees to over 51,000 this year, its share of total employment has decreased from 36% to 26% as private sector growth outsripped government jobs. Still, major industrialists believe the State is usurping human resources at a costly price for them and for taxpayers

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