Greening Housing Policy


published on Sunday, September 21, 2008

by Carmel Cacopardo



The social objectives of housing policy can and should be attained without causing further damage to our urban fabric and natural environment.  Housing like all other areas of policy should be compatible with the environment, otherwise it should be seriously re-examined.


Over the years, in the absence of a rental market (for most) home ownership became the only manner in which they could acquire a home. As a result today around 70% of Maltese families reside in owner occupied residences. The reform of rent legislation currently in the pipeline will introduce an alternative through the reassembly of a rental market. Over time this should ensure that it is once more possible to live in a reasonable and decent home without being its owner. A forty year mortgage could be history for the upcoming generations.


Ensuring that each and every one of us has decent accommodation  housing his family is a social need, but the decision as to whether to own a residence is not. It is an investment decision which in a great number of cases is today subsidised through the taxpayer’s pocket under the guise of social policy. This distinction has not been made easy by a sixty year inertia in reforming rent legislation. 


With at least 60,000 vacant properties at hand there is surely no social need to build more dwellings except maybe to justify the existence of the construction industry which currently employs some 11,500.


The rent reform White Paper rightly points out that whether one rents or purchases a residence is an economic choice. Although such a statement is theoretically possible, at this point in time no choice is available.


In the absence of a rental market, home ownership has for years been the focal point of housing policy. Public monies have been used to construct housing estates containing hundreds of dwelling units whilst at the same time at least 60,000 vacant dwellings have been allowed to accumulate. In the long term this is the situation which the rent reform exercise will have to address.


The process will be slow and painful. It will reverse past injustices. It will however inevitably create new pains as well as new gains.


The community will be a net beneficiary as in the long term there will be less building construction going on while it is hoped that no more agricultural land will be taken up. The pressure for demolition of old properties should dwindle. Vacant properties may at last generate a decent income for their owners.


In order to survive the construction industry will have to commence a restructuring exercise. A larger part of it will have to shift from construction works to the rehabilitation of dilapidated properties as well as participating in a much needed urban regeneration. There will be a demand for skills which are not sufficiently available today. The traditional building trades will be highly in demand, slowly at first but at an increasing rate subsequently. Sufficient time is available for retraining in order that the shift causes the least pain possible in the employment sector.


The rent reform currently in the pipeline is the first step in the inevitable greening of housing policy. It will tackle the most obvious environmental deficiency of social policy in Malta and it will in the long term prove that it is possible to attain the highest level of social standards in housing policy and at the same time observe all environmental norms of modern society.


Other steps will necessarily follow.  If one pays rent at commercial rates it will be logical to seek smaller residences thereby reducing the rental bill by doing away with unnecessarily large homes. Coupled with the diminishing size of the typical Maltese family this will lead to an increased mobility of the family unit, moving from a small dwelling on its formation, to a larger one when additional space is needed and possibly back again to a small residence in old age.


These practical consequences in addition to an effective moratorium on large scale building construction would result in a reduction of the expense required in running a decent home. This saving would be primarily in the energy costs which could be reduced substantially through the use of smaller residential units.


In an article published by Joseph Darmanin in the BOV Review entitled The Computation of a Housing Affordability Index for Malta  in the Spring 2008 issue  it is concluded that first time buyers are gradually being pushed out of the housing market. Housing affordability is presently linked to purchasing of property, as a rental market is practically inexistent at the lower end of the scale. Housing affordability is gauged by comparing the Housing Price Index with the disposable income. It resulted to Joseph Darmanin that in 2007 the median house prices were 8 times the average per capita income whilst in 2000 they were just 6 times the average per capita income. This leads to the conclusion that over the past eight years it has become less affordable to purchase a property. At the lower ends of the scale the pinch is felt sufficiently to be able to pose the question as to whether the whole “home ownership policy” at the forefront of housing policies for the past 25 years is sane.


There are no easy answers to obvious questions which everybody has been evading for so long.


The are obviously two options.


The first is more of the same insane home ownership politics as a result of which we may end up with banks dishing out home loans repayable over 60 years or more such that it will be possible for our children to inherit a mortgage in addition to a home!   With the spiralling cost of property and more of the same this will be the inevitable result.


The alternative is to abandon home ownership as a social policy tool and substitute it with a policy of assisted rent. Those who cannot afford to buy their home should not be forced to. They have the right to an alternative.


Rent reform if adequately tackled can provide the solution. Those who cannot afford to own their own home can be assisted to rent a suitable residence: suitable for their needs. There is no need for a large three-bedroomed flat at the taxpayers expense for a newly wedded couple: a one-bedroomed one would be sufficient initially.  Subsequently they can move on depending on their real needs.


I am aware that this runs contrary to the manner in which housing politics has developed over the past 60 years. The state has always been expected to provide for all. In reality it cannot, never has and should not be expected to. Rent reform paves the way for a role of the private sector to place on the market properties which can be rented out. The properties required are available. The only heavy investment required is in goodwill! Financial outlays required will in the long term be significantly lower than those made available to date, and most probably with better results.


This will lay the foundation for housing policy to commence on the path of sustainable development. Social needs will in this manner be satisfied through a respect for environmental norms.

Il-Kaċċa f’Malta fis-sena 2008





Dawn ir-ritratti ta’ Kuċċard milqut minn kaċċaturi f’Malta m’hemmx bżonn kliem biex jispjeghom.


Il-Kuċċard hu tajr protett.


Għal iktar informazzjoni ara is-sit tal-Birdlife f’Malta .   

Għandna nikkundannaw dawn l-atti ta’ irresponsabbilta bil-qawwa kollha. Fl-istess waqt għandna nagħtu l-appoġġ tagħna lil dawk li bħall-Birdlife Malta qegħdin fuq quddiem nett, jaffrontaw sidirhom biex din il-problema tissolva darba għal dejjem.


Electoral Reform

Alternattiva Demokratika illum għaddiet lill-Ispeaker l-Onor Louis Galea il-proposti tagħha għal riforma elettorali .


Bejn l-1987 u l-2007 saru bosta tibdiliet fil-liġijiet elettorali.


L-ewwel li min jikseb maġġoranza ta’ aktar minn 50% tal-voti jiggverna. Iktar tard saru emendi li jassiguraw proporzjonalita’ bejn il-voti miksuba u l-membri parlamentari li jiġu eletti f’isem il-partiti politiċi.


Il-posizzjoni attwali hi li l-proporzjonalita’ bejn voti miksuba u n-numru ta’ membri parlamentari eletti f’isem partit politiku hi assigurata biss f’żewġ ċirkustanzi :


a)      meta partit politiku jikseb iktar minn 50% tal-voti u

b)      meta jkun hemm żewġ partiti politiċi biss fil-parlament.


Alternattiva Demokratika qed tipproponi li l-propozjonalita’ ma tkunx privileġġ għall-kbar iżda dritt ta’ kulħadd.

Is-sistema elettorali għandha tinbidel b’tali mod illi jekk Partit Politiku fl-ewwel għadd jikseb mhux inqas minn 2.5% tal-voti mitfugħa għandu jkollu dritt ta’ rapprezentanza parlamentari.


2.5% ifisser madwar żewġ kwoti fuq livell nazzjonali, jew 8,000 vot. Dan ifisser bil-proposta ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika illi jekk partit jikseb mhux inqas minn total ta’ 8,000 vot fuq id-distretti kollha flimkien ikollu dritt ta’ rappresentanza parlamentari. Fil-fehma ta’ AD b’hekk jinkiseb bilanċ bejn il-governabilita’ u l-vot popolari.


Il-proporzjonalita b’hekk ma tkunx xi privileġġ tal-partiti l-kbar iżda dritt ta’ kulħadd skond regoli ċari.


Issa nistennew u naraw kif il-Kumitat Magħżul tal-Kamra ser jiżviluppa id-diskussjoni.  

The Pendulum

Today’s The Times quoted the Prime Minister as having said  “that the time had come for the pendulum to swing towards the environment”.

Now this is fascinating. It reveals the role of environmental policy in the speaker’s mind. The environment so, follows the path of a pendulum. Swinging from a high to a low. It has hence an importance which is cyclical. Very high at times very low at others.

Is this government’s environmental policy ?

The Nature of Green Politics

published on September 13, 2008


On being elected leader of the Greens in England and Wales last week, MEP Caroline Lucas stated: “There is a huge number of people out there who want to hear our message and we want to get better at getting it across. I want to get our message out about social justice. Everyone knows we are the party of the environment. What fewer people know is that if you are looking for the real progressive force in British politics today, it is the Green party”.

During the March 2008 general election, the PN took on board most of AD’s environmental policies. The MLP is now taking on board AD’s campaign on civil rights: divorce, gay rights, local council voting at age 16. AD’s campaign on rent reform has borne fruit. A consensus seems to be developing around AD’s electoral proposal on the energy surcharge: having a low or no charge for basic use and a high charge for excessive users.

An impressive contribution by a political party which has not yet made it to Parliament!

It is to early to state whether the PN and/or the MLP are trying to be greener than the greens. The emerging interest of the PN and the MLP in Green politics is positive as, in fact, this is coalition building by the back door!

It is to be borne in mind that Green parties are not restricted to environmental issues although, as stated by Ms Lucas, the environment is that area of politics with which Greens are mostly associated.

The Charter of The Global Greens, approved in Canberra in 2001, in fact identifies six principles forming the basis of Green politics: ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, non-violence, sustainability and respect for diversity. Viewed together, they form the basis of Green politics. All six are enshrined in the policy positions taken locally by AD.

Humankind is part of the natural world. We must respect all the other species forming part of this world. All forms of life are to be valued as all belong to the same natural world. This signifies that we must learn to live within the ecological and resource limits of planet earth and that we must ensure fulfilling the basic duty to respect biodiversity and life-support systems. Where we have little or no knowledge we must be cautious and tread carefully, thereby ensuring that we do not prejudice present and future generations. Basic to the achievement of social justice is the equitable distribution of resources. Social and environmental justice are thus intertwined.

Green parties the world over are firm believers in subsidiarity. AD will by the time of publication of this article have made public its proposals for a reform of local government. AD will argue for a strengthening of local government in Malta through devolution of additional responsibilities, clearer funding rules, Green tendering procedures at a local level and the need to introduce a referendum to decide on development projects having a significant impact on the locality.

The Greens respect diversity. Diversity of opinion. Ethical pluralism. Diversity in gender orientation. This has to be reflected in everyday politics. Hence, the Greens stand up against homophobia and support the right of gays and lesbians to be treated as equal persons of our community to which they too contribute through their daily toil.

The Greens favour divorce in contrast to those who believe in the theocratic powers of the state of imposing the beliefs of a section of the community on the rest. Those who believe in the indissolubility of marriage have a right to freely practise their beliefs. However, they have no right to impose their beliefs on the rest of the country. The state in Malta is still theocratic in this respect. It is about time that the winds of change open up the doors of ethical pluralism. Divorce has been recognised in Malta since 1975 but only for those who have the financial means to proceed to a foreign jurisdiction.

The effects of the March 2008 electoral campaign will take some time to sink into the psyche of the Maltese voter. It is not just about electoral promises which will not be fulfilled. Nor about scandals such as the Mistra one or the reversal of dubious pre-electoral decisions such as that on the development at Transfiguration Avenue in Lija. Voters are realising that the major parties avoided issues in March but subsequently had to face them. The shipyards debacle is a case in point wherein government intransigence had to give way to a civil society insistence on dialogue. Common sense eventually prevailed.

In the months ahead, the Greens in Malta will continue to face the issues and present to the public the progressive options which lie ahead.

Riforma tal-Kunsilli Lokali : Proposti ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika



Illum delegazzjoni ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika immexxija minn Arnold Cassola iltaqgħet mal-Onor. Chris Said Segretarju Parlamentari responsabbli għall-Kunsilli Lokali biex iddiskutiet miegħu r-riformi meħtieġa fil-qasam tal-Kunsilli Lokali.


Arnold Cassola ippreżenta lis-Segretarju Parlamentari b’dokument li fih sittax-il proposta dwar is-segwenti :


  1. Dritt għall-vot mas-16-il sena,
  2. Estensjoni tat-terminu tal-Kunsill Lokali,
  3. Is-Segretarji Eżekuttivi,
  4. Ir-rwol tas-Sindku,
  5. Ir-responsabbiltajiet tal-Kunsilliera,
  6. Remunerazzjoni għall-Kunsilliera kollha,
  7. Finanzjament tal-Kunsilli Lokali,
  8. Tenders tal-Kunsilli Lokali,
  9. Gvern Reġjonali,
  10. Użu ta’ fondi mill-EU,
  11. Rwol għall-Kunsilli Lokali fil-ħidma tal-MEPA,
  12. Referendum Lokali dwar proġetti li jeħtieġu EIA,
  13. Konflitti bejn il-Kunsilli Lokali, l-Awtoritajiet imwaqqfa b’liġi u/jew Dipartimenti tal-Gvern,
  14. Taħriġ għall-kunsilliera lokali,
  15. Devoluzzjoni tal-edukazzjoni fuq livell lokali,
  16. Bye-laws.


Id-dokument sħiħ jista’ jinqara jekk taghfas hawn.

Bdil fil-klima


Illum flimkien ma Arnold Cassola u oħrajn, għan-nom ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika ħadt sehem f’laqgħa ma’ David Spiteri Gingell, li qed imexxi kumitat imwaqqaf mill-Gvern dwar il-Bdil fil-Klima.

Il-laqgħa kienet waħda pożittiva ħafna li fihom iddiskutejna diversi miżuri li jistgħu jittieħdu mhux biss biex Malta tonora l-obbligi tagħha imma biex ilkoll ikollna kwalita’ tal-ħajja aħjar.

Fi tmiem il-laqgħa AD ħriġna l-istqarrija segwenti :

“  Arnold Cassola, Chairperson ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika stqarr li Malta għadha lura ħafna fil-miri tagħha, li suppost iwasslu biex fl-2020 Malta tuża 10% ta’ l-enerġija tagħha minn għejjun naturali bħax-xemx u r-riħ u biex nnaqqsu 20% tal-emissjonijiet tagħna ta’ CO2.
Ralph Cassar kelliemi dwar l-Enerġija, Trasport u Industrija qal: Alternattiva Demokratika terġa ttenni l-pjan tagħha għall-inċentivar ta’ enerġija alternattiva – fosthom li jiġu stallati minn 3 sa 4 rdieden tar-riħ fuq l-art, li jiġu introdotti inċentivi għall-installar ta’ pannelli fotovoltajċi b’tariffi speċjali għall-elettriku żejjed li dawn is-sistemi jipproduċu, u programm serju ta’ inċentivi għall-familji biex jistallaw sistemi li jsaħħnu l-ilma permezz tax-xemx. Nemmnu li b’inċentivi tajbin nistgħu nibdew nipproduċu persentaġġ tajjeb ta’ enerġija
minn sorsi alternattivi. AD mhux qed titlob l-impossibbli – hemm diversi mudelli ta’ incentivi li jistgħu jiġu addattati ghal Malta

, fosthom dak Ġermaniż li ġie introdott meta l-Ħodor kienu fil-Gvern ftit snin ilu.

Carmel Cacopardo kelliemi dwar l-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli u l-Gvern Lokali qal li l-qafas tal-ħidma tal-Gvern fil-kamp tal-bdil tal-klima huwa ġja imħejji fil-Pjan Nazzjonali dwar l-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli, approvat mill-Kabinett fi tmiem is-sena li ghaddiet. Cacopardo zied jghid li biex Malta tilħaq il-miri stabiliti u tnaqqas il-kontribut tagħha lejn il-bdil fil-klima jeħtieġ li bis-serjeta tkun inkoraġġita l-ġenerazzjoni ta’ enerġija alternattiva kif ukoll li jonqsu drastikament il-karozzi mit-toroq. Dan (tnaqqis ta’ karozzi mit-toroq) għad hemm diffikulta biex iseħħ minħabba li minkejja l-infieq ta’ miljuni ta’ liri mit-taxxi li nħallsu l-Gvern immexxi mill-Partit Nazzjonalista ma kienx kapaċi jirriforma t-trasport pubbliku wara 4 leġislaturi sħaħ.



Cacopardo kompla jghid illi huwa meħtieġ li mhux biss ikunu inkoraġġiti forom differenti ta’ transport pubbliku inkluż dak bil-baħar, talli huwa neċessarju li fit-toroq tinħoloq il-wisa’ għall-użu tar-roti b’mod partikolari għal distanzi żgħar.

Il-Gvern għandu l–obbligu, temm jgħid Cacopardo illi jfassal Carbon Budget u jressqu għad-diskusjoni tal-Parlament. Permezz ta’ dan il-Carbon Budget ikun possibli  li jitfasslu miri speċifiċi u kif dawn jistgħu jintlaħqu.”  




Alternattiva Demokratika w il-Kunsilli Lokali




F’isem Alternattiva Demokratika attendejt għal seminar ta’ jumejn organizzat mill-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Kunsilli Lokali għas-Sindki f’Malta u Għawdex.


F’dan is-seminar saret diskussjoni fit-tul dwar ir-riforma meħtieġa  biex il-Kunsilli Lokali jaħdmu aħjar. Diskussjoni serja li fiha dawk kollha preżenti ilkoll irrikonoxxew il-ġdid akkumulat fil-lokalitajiet f’Malta u Għawdex kemm ilhom li twaqqfu l-Kunsilli Lokali.


Bla dubju ta’ xejn wara 15-il sena esperjenza hemm ħafna x’jiġi intejjeb fil-liġi biex ikunu hemm aġġornament maż-żminijiet, kif ukoll biex l-esperjenzi akkumulati jissarfu f’avvanz għal kulħadd.



Kien jidher ċar imma mill-kummenti ta’ dawk kollha preżenti li l-Awtoritajiet imwaqqfa b’liġi fosthom l-Awtorita’ dwar it-Trasport u l-Korporazzjoni għas-Servizzi ta’ l-Ilma għad ma aċċettawx l-eżistenza ta’ Gvern Lokali. Fil-konfront ta’ dawn kif ukoll ta’ oħrajn il-liġi m’hi ser tagħmel l-ebda differenza. L-attitudi trid tinbidel.



Sadanittant il-ġimgħa d-dieħla Alternattiva Demokratika tħabbar il-proposti tagħha dwar il-Kunsilli Lokali.

Il-qawsalla skond Varist



Fl-Orizzont illum Evarist Bartolo, Membru Parlamentari Laburista kiteb artiklu intitolat Ħomor u ħodor … iżjed mill-blù!


Ma jgħid xejn ġdid iżda jagħmel riflessjoni ftit negattiva : jara l-ħomor u l-ħodor bħala alleati inevitabbli minħabba konverġenza ta’ ħsieb fuq materji bħall-ġustizzja soċjali, żvilupp ekonomiku, l-ħarsien ambjentali u l-libertajiet ċivili. Dan jiddikjarah fil-kuntest ta’ għan dikjarat li l-PN ma jkunx fil-Gvern.


Huwa dibattibbli jekk hux veru jew le li hemm konverġenza ta’ ħsieb. Għax huwa biss issa li l-MLP qed jitkellem fuq issues li ilhom snin esklussivament fuq l-aġenda politika ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika. L-MLP għal snin sħaħ ipprefera li joqgħod ħalqu magħluq għax beża li jitlef il-voti. U issa qed jiftah ftit ħalqu bit-tama li jappella għal dawk li jivvutaw AD. Kwistjoni ta’ konvenjenza pura, u xejn iktar.


Varist ma jitkellimx fuq materji importanti. Per eżempju ma jgħid xejn dwar il-fatt li l-Partit Laburista qabel mas-sistema elettorali preżenti sakemm ħaseb li jista’ jiggwadanja minna hu ! L-emendi kostituzzjonali ta’ qabel l-aħħar elezzjoni li bihom ġiet iggarantita l-proporzjonalita stretta liż-żewġ partiti (PN u MLP) u injorat lill-bqija saret bil-kunsens unanimu tal-MLP, inkluż bil-vot ta’ Varist fil-Parlament. Jiġifieri s-sistema elettorali preżenti m’hiex responsabbilta’ unika tal-PN iżda miegħu għandu l-MLP kompliċi fil-beraħ.


Għax minkejja dak li jgħid Varist l-MLP bħal PN jemmen f’sistema bi-polari. Jiġifieri sistema li tħalli spazju għal żewġ partiti biss. Għalhekk qed jirreferi meta jgħid “nemmen li jiena leħen fid-deżert”.


X’tiswa proposta ta’ alleanza programmatika meta din tiġi minn ħdan partit li kontinwament bil-mod kif jaħdem jippreżenta ruħu bħala l-uniku leħen alternattiv : jew miegħu jew kontrieh ?


Fl-elezzjonijiet għall-Parlament  Ewropew ta’ 4 snin ilu Alternattiva Demokratika kisbet 23,000 vot u fl-aħħar elezzjoni ġenerali ftit iktar minn 3,800 vot. Dawn huma kollha voti li jirrikonoxxu li AD għandha identita tagħha, differenti minn dik tal-Partiti l-oħra.


Jiġifieri l-ewwel pass li jridu jagħmlu l-partiti l-oħra huwa li jirrikonoxxu dan u ma jibqgħux għaddejjin b’politika li tbeżża’. Huwa inutli li nitkellmu fuq il-pluraliżmu jekk fejn l-iktar meħtieġ, jiġifieri fil-Parlament, l-MLP u l-PN jibqgħu jagħmlu minn kollox biex joħonquħ.

Il-Mepa u Ħal-Lija


Il-Bord tal-MEPA illum iddeċieda li joħroġ ordni ta’ konservazzjoni għall-inħawi ta’ madwar it-Torri fi Vjal it-Trasfigurazzjoni. Pass tajjeb li isewwi wieħed mill-ħafna żbalji li saru fir-renju ta’ George Pullicino u Andrew Calleja.

Pero dan mhux biżżejjed.

Dan l-iżball huwa dwar il-mod kif saru l-Pjani Lokali.

Iċ-Chairman il-ġdid, Austin Walker jagħmel tajjeb jekk jara ftit ir-rapport tal-Awditur tal-MEPA dwar il-Pjani Lokali. Dan ir-rapport kien ukoll sostanzjalment ikkonfermat mill-Ombudsman. Jitfa dell kbir fuq il-validita’ tal-proċess tal-pjani lokali. Fuq affarijiet (proposti) li żdiedu fil-pjan “wara” l-proċess ta’ konsultazzjoni pubblika bi ksur ta’ dak li jipprovdi l-Att dwar l-Ippjanar tal-Iżvilupp.

Flok ma jieħu passi bil-biċċa l-hawn u biċċa l-hemm is-Sur Walker jagħmel tajjeb jekk jibda l-proċess biex isewwi l-izbalji l-kbar tal-pjani lokali.