The Budget Debate before the Conseil National is the grand occasion where the Government’s plans for 2019 converge with the demands of the Monegasque population. Stephane Valeri as President of the Conseil National and Balthazar Seydoux, in the Conseil National, as President of the Commission National on Finance and The Economy have key roles. Three priorities loom large. Housing, of course, as always. And recently, very much to the fore are Quality of Life issues around noise and congestion in the Principality. Finally, there is great interest in the creation of more career opportunities for Monegasques, especially as entrepreneurs.
On housing it comes down to delivering on an aggressive target of 800 new apartments for Monegasques over 5 years. That means building at a minimum rate of well over 100 new apartments a year. Look for an allocation for Monegasque housing in many of the high-profile construction projects – in Testimonio II, for example, 150 apartments would come on stream in 2021. If and when Testimonio III comes to fruition there could be an opportunity for 250 more. Raising the height at Apolline to allow for additional floors and building apartments within the planned renovation of the Fontvieille Commercial Centre – these all contribute. Getting the Grand Ida project off the ground with 140 new units is a priority but first requires a satisfactory negotiation of the purchase of Villa Les Platanes. At the last major allocation of apartments to Monegasques there were applications for 400 units and availability of only 80 – so a shortfall of over 300 apartments.
Quality of Life
Building site noise is the big issue, and the Primo program calls for an end to operating into the evening and weekends. It also calls for weeding out the culprits who do not complete building projects on time or who do poor quality work (so there is not a repeat of the type of problems experienced at Apolline and Helios) and removing delinquents from eligibility for public contracts. Even the biggest developments are behind schedule (Ilot Pasteur with the New Charles III College and The New Hospital) and important projects like renovating Stade Louis II are causing inconvenience to locals. And the Program calls for a tightening on inspections to ensure building sites put up acoustic shields and take all sound proofing measures seriously.
In terms of traffic congestion and traffic noise, there has been recruitment of extra traffic controllers deployed at rush hour and targeting the black spots such as St Devote and Place d’Armes. Yet additional traffic “cops” are called for and fines for those vehicles creating excessive noise.
On a more positive note, the call for Sunday Openings of stores creates work opportunities for those who want to volunteer – provided the pay is fair. And the plan to double the size of the space at the Fontvieille Commercial Centre provides more opportunities.Then the Program puts emphasis on encouraging the growth of an entrepreneurial sector in Monaco (Monaco Tech) with a Business Centre to encourage and help start-ups to develop. The push to catch up and eventually become a leader in the Digital world can only help accelerate growth. Finally, in the Program there is a call to let small entrepreneurs operate out of their apartments.
Since 2012 Monaco has had a budget surplus. The greater the business activity, the more income is generated through value added tax to balance and exceed spending across all the programs. A healthy economy helps continue to generate budget surpluses each year – a good sign indeed.