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BUSINESS TODAY 29 February 2024

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12 29.2.2024 Roderick Galdes Roderick Galdes is Minister of Social Accommodation OPINION Public needs, private solutions A critical aspect of effective gov- ernance is the intersection of public policy and the private sector, especially when it comes to ad- dressing complex societal challenges. Across various sectors, we are look- ing towards innovative models that can bring out the strength in both the public and private spheres, in order to bring about solutions to our social and economic challenges that are evolving day by day. This is somewhat of shift in the traditional understanding of social welfare and economic development, recognising that these realms are not mutually exclusive but can be inter- twined for the benefit of society. Housing, a fundamental human need, has long been at the forefront of our social policy debates, as well as priority for this Government. The challenge lies not only in providing housing that is up to standard, but also ensuring that homes are available and accessible. We recently announced the recent extension of the 'Nikru Biex Nassi- tu' scheme, a decision that shows not only a commitment to social welfare but also a recognition of the power of public-private partnerships. Since its inception in 2017, this scheme as served as an example of innovative social policy that inter- twines the welfare of the community with business acumen. This scheme has already provided homes to over 1,000 families and rep- resents a synergy between social need and business opportunity. By inviting private landlords to lease their prop- erties to the Housing Authority, we are not just addressing the pressing issue of housing for socially disadvan- taged persons; it is also creating fer- tile ground for a new kind of econom- ic model: one that is rooted in social responsibility. Landlords participating in this scheme are offered an attractive in- centive: a guaranteed rental rate for a decade, a six-month advance on rent, and a tax exemption on rental in- come. These benefits present a lucra- tive business opportunity, ensuring steady income and financial security. But what is truly innovative about this scheme is how it elevates the role of private landlords in addressing so- cial challenges. With the 'Nikru Biex Nassistu' scheme, we are levaraging private resources for public good, and this model not only eases the pressure on us as Government but also broadens the base of social housing providers. It is a clear demonstration of our be- lief in the private sector's ability to contribute meaningfully to the well- being of our society. This scheme aligns perfectly with other schemes by the Housing Au- thority, as well as our unprecedented investment in social housing. By ex- panding the stock of properties, we are ensuring that adequate housing is not a privilege but a right accessible to all. In the modern world, the lines be- tween social responsibility and busi- ness are increasingly blurring. And as a Government we are actively rec- ognising this potential. I believe this scheme is a model worth emulating, reminding us that at the heart of every successful policy lies the truth that societal challenges are best met with solutions that serve both the people and the market. This blend of social and econom- ic consciousness is what makes our work not just a policy but a paradigm shift. And as we move forward, with more policies, more schemes, and more projects -- we will undoubtedly continue to provide a roof and decent living standards to many more fami- lies, enriching our economy and our society.

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