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MW 30 December 2015

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TIM DIACONO A whopping 81% of Maltese businesses now believe that cor- ruption is widespread on the is- land, according to the findings of a recent Eurobarometer study, carried out in October 2015. This is a 7% increase when compared to the last time the study was conducted, which was coincidentally in March 2013 when the Labour Party was elected to government. The rise in perceived corrup- tion during this period is also the third highest in the EU; only Irish (10% rise) and Cypriot (8% rise) businesses scored higher increases. In other damning survey find- ings, 47% of Maltese businesses said that the practice of funding political parties in exchange for public contracts or political in- f luence is widespread – the high- est rate in the EU. Despite Joseph Muscat's pre- electoral pledge to clamp down on nepotism, 16% more busi- nesses consider the favouring of friends and relatives in public institutions to be a widespread problem than they did in March 2013. This is the highest rate increase for perceived nepotism in the EU. On a more positive note, busi- nesses are 12% less likely than they were in 2013 to say that the offering of gifts in return for fa- vours is widespread. They are also 8% less likely to believe that bribery is a problem and 7% likely to believe that tax fraud and VAT evasion is rife. WWW.MALTATODAY.COM.MT WEDNESDAY EDITION WEDNESDAY • 30 DECEMBER 2015 • ISSUE 449 • PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AND SUNDAY €1.00 Newspaper post Businesses see rise in corruption since 2013 election October survey shows that Maltese businesses are signifi cantly more convinced that corruption and nepotism are rife since March 2013 PAGE 4 Protected historical buildings may get two extra storeys JAMES DEBONO A proposed new policy allowing two new extra storeys on residen- tial homes for the elderly will also apply to Grade 2 historical build- ings and buildings in urban con- servation areas. The policy objectives issued a year ago had included a blanket ban against additional storeys on these locations. The public is now being invited to submit its feedback on the new policy, which is expected to be ap- proved next year. The document justifies the change of heart by referring to a number of "submissions" received in the past months and to the "overall lack of bed space" which led MEPA to conclude that the policy can also apply in the case of scheduled buildings, irrespective of their location within the urban area, but excluding those located outside development zones. This policy may only apply where such buildings are in a poor state of repair and where "they cannot otherwise be easily converted into a retirement home". It is, however, specifically not applicable to Grade 1 scheduled buildings which enjoy the highest level of protection. The policy will benefit the own- ers of the Isolation hospital in Mtarfa who intend to convert the scheduled building into an old people's home. Malta Healthcare Caterers, a subsidiary of the Seabank Group, was the recommended bidder for the isolation hospital after an ex- pression of interest issued last year. MEPA scheduled the isolation hospital in Mtarfa as a Grade 2 na- tional monument on July 12, 2008. Normally only internal alterations can be made to grade 2 scheduled buildings. Plans for an extra storey have al- ready been presented on the pro- posed old people's home by the Seabank group's subsidiary. PAGE 3 The isolation hospital in Mtarfa is a Grade 2 national monument

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