Mater Dei ………. ora pro nobis

Louis Deguara li kien Ministru tas-Saħħa sal-elezzjoni tal-2008 għadu kif iddikjara illi huwa ma kienx jaqbel mal-ftehim kollettiv iffirmat bejn  il-Gvern u t-tobba lejlet l-elezzjoni tal-2008.

It-Times tal-beraħ fil-fatt jikkwotah hekk :

“The Health Division never agreed with the final agreement because we knew it was seriously flawed. As a department it never agreed to the final draft,” Dr Degu­ara said when contacted yesterday.

Huwa kien qed jikkummenta b’reazzjoni għal dak li qal iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa Dr Joe Cassar il-Ministru tas-Saħħa attwali li qiegħed jilmenta illi l-ftehim kollettiv huwa mażra m’għonq il-Ministeru  tas-Saħħa.

Jiġifieri l-posizzjoni kienet :

1)     Saru negozjati bejn it-tobba u l-Ministeru tas-Saħħa.

2)     L-uffiċjali tal-Ministeru kif ukoll dawk tad-Diviżjoni tas-Saħħa ma qablux ma kif żviluppaw dawn in-negozjati u in partikolari mat-talbiet tat-tobba u n-negozjati daħlu fi sqaq.

3)     Il-Union tat-tobba għamlet pressure fuq il-Gvern u l-Gvern ċeda kontra l-parir li kellu.

4)     Il-Ministru Deguara baxxa rasu u aċċetta li jkun iffirmat ftehim li ma jaqbilx miegħu.

Issa qed jirriżulta li Louis Deguara kellu raġun.

Min ser iġorr ir-responsabbilta’ politika?

Huwa ċar li l-Gvern ta’ Lawrence Gonzi injora l-prinċipji kollha ta’ amminsitrazzjoni tajba biex minflok  bħalma jagħmel dejjem poġġa l-vantaġġ politiku qabel dak li hu sewwa.

GonziPN m’huwiex interessat li jamministra l-pajjiż sewwa. Hu interessat biss li jibqa’ fil-Gvern.

Dawn huma l-prinċipji li fuqhom hu mibni l-Gvern tal-lum. M’huwiex gvern tal-Maltin. Hu biss gonzipn.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Niġġeneraw l-enerġija elettrika mill-mewġ

 

Nhar is-Sibt attendejt għal presentazzjoni dwar proġett ta’ riċerka li meta jkun konkluż għandu jwassal biex mill-mewġ nieħdu l-enerġija u nikkonvertuha f’elettriku.

Dan hu proġett ta’ riċerka li beda ftit iktar minn sena ilu bejn kumpanija Maltija u oħra Daniża. Flimkien ħolqu d-Dexawave Energy Malta li bdiet tesperimenta barra mill-kosta ta’ Marsaskala. Ir-riċerka ħtieġet li tistabilixxi jekk il-mewġ fl-ibħra Maltin jistax jintuża biex minnu jiġi ġġenerat l-elettriku. Biex dan isir inħadem apparat imsejjaħ wave convertor biex jibdel iċ-ċaqlieq tal-mewġ f’enerġija.

Ir-riċerka għada għaddejja u minn dak magħruf s’issa jidhru riżultati posittivi fuq ix-xefaq! Biex il-ġenerazzjoni tal-enerġija elettrika mill-mewġ tkun waħda ekonomika” huwa stmat li hu meħtieġ madwar 2,000 siegħa ta’ mewġ fis-sena b’għoli ta’ bejn tnejn u tlett metri.  Mill-informazzjoni li ġbart baqa’ madwar 4 xhur biex tagħlaq is-sena riċerka u diġa ntlaħqu l-1,400 siegħa ta’ mewġ tajjeb biex jiġi ġġenerat l-elettriku.

Din ir-riċerka kienet possibli bl-għajnuna tal-Programm Nazzjonali għar-Riċerka u l-Innovazzjoni tal-Kunsill Malti għax-Xjenza u t-Teknoloġija.

Huwa maħsub li jitqegħdu 24 wave convertor bħal dak fl-istampa hawn fuq( b’qies kull wieħed ta’ madwar 70 metru). Flimkien dawn l-24 wave convertor jistgħu jiġġeneraw 6 Megawatt ta’ elettriku. Dawn jammontaw għal madwar 1.5% tal-enerġija elettrika li nikkunsmaw illum bħala pajjiż. Dan l-ammont biss jissodisfa ammont sostanzjali mill-enerġija li hi ikkunsmata fil-gżira Għawdxija matul madwar disa’ xhur mis-sena!

Prosit li kull min hu involut f’din ir-riċerka.

Żejtun Airways

Fl-intervista tiegħu fis-Sunday Times ta’ nhar il-Ħadd li għadda, Bertie Mizzi, li kien l-ewwel Chairman tal-Air Malta, fisser kif sa mill-bidunett kienu jittieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet fl-Air Malta meta kienu jimpjegaw in-nies mal-kumpanija.

Fl-intervista jingħad is-segwenti :

“When I was at Air Malta, at Budget time the minister used to go around to see what employment he could factor in for the following year.

“He’d say: ‘Who will Air Malta be employing next year? I’d reply, ‘nobody, because we don’t need anyone’. And the response would be that the airline had to take at least 100 people whether you like it or not.”

Ic-Chairman dak iż-żmien kien Bertie Mizzi. Il-Ministru kien il-Membru Parlamentari elett miż-Żejtun, Wistin Abela.

Għalhekk dak iż-żmien l-Air Malta kienet qiesha Żejtun Airways!

PS : Għal iżjed dettalji aqra Air Malta: a reminder is always useful.   Tiffriska ftit il-memorja!

Bertie Mizzi u Manoel Island

Bertie Mizzi jrid idaħħaq.

Fl-intervista fuq is-Sunday Times tal-Ħadd li għadda qalilna li l-politiċi kollha (ħlief dawk li kienu Prim Ministri) għandhom nuqqas fid-dipartiment tal-onesta. Il-Prim Ministri kollha li ħadem magħhom, qalilna, kienu kollha nies ta’ subgħajhom dritt. Ikun hemm ċans nikkummenta fuq dan. Illum ser nillimita ruħi ghal dak li qal dwar Manoel Island.

Berti jidher li beda jikkonverti. Qalilna li minkejja li qabbad l-aħjar nies illum qed jifforma opinjoni oħra differenti (għandu second thoughts) dwar l-iżvilupp ta’ Tigne. Jikkonsla għax jgħid li tagħmel x’tagħmel dejjem ser issib x’tikkritika!

Berti lest biex ma jagħmel xejn, qal, (l-ebda żvilupp fuq Manoel Island) jekk ikun ikun ikkumpensat għall-ispejjes li għamel (expenses and unrecoverable costs jgħid Bertie).

Jidher li Bertie inkwietat : We will not be accused of raping Manoel Island when it was the government that issued this tender in the first place.”

Ir-responsabbilta’ ghar-“rape of Manoel Island” qed jgħidilna Bertie Mizzi hi tal-Gvern, mhux tiegħu! Mhux biss, qalilna ukoll li l-Parlament kollu qabel miegħu għax il-proposta għall-iżvilupp ta’ Manoel Island kienet approvata unanimament mill-Parlament.

Dan kollu (li l-Parlament approva l-proposta għal-iżvilupp ta’ Manoel Island b’vot unanimu) ma jfissirx li din hi deċiżjoni tajba. Ifisser biss li fid-dinja tal-flus il-PN u l-PL m’hemmx x’tagħżel bejniethom.

It-tnejn jaqblu ma Bertie Mizzi li hu fil-business. U għal Bertie business is business!

The future we want

During the current Parliamentary debate on the Sustainable Development Bill various government spokesmen have emphasised that they consider it essential to ensure that there is a balance between protecting the environment  and economic policy. In so doing they are stating that measures that may be required to protect the environment  are to be embraced only if there is little or no economic impact.

Sustainable development is no longer a matter of choice. It is rather an issue of survival. Balancing acts do not form part of the equation!

A former Minister of the Environment during the Parliamentary debate stated that a defininiton of sustainable development is required as an integral part of the Bill. If this Hononourable gentleman is not capable of embracing Bruntland’s definiton in the report she penned as Chairperson of the World Commission on Environment and Development then it is about time that someone explains what his tenure as Minister for the Environment has achieved except the widespread environmental destruction which has been amply documented throughout the years.

Gro Harlem Brundtland had stated that “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable – to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Brundland’s definition is the mildest possible and has been drafted in that form specifically to ensure the widest adoption possible. Taking decisions in such a manner as not to prejudice future generations is the least we can say about the politics of sustainable development.

It signifies first and foremost that policy decisions  are not postponed in order to avoid or minimise loss of votes. It also means calling a spade by its proper name and getting on with the business of proper management of  resources without delay.

The adoption of sustainable development as a basic building block of government policy should lead to the logical conclusion that the economy should not be viewed as an objective but rather as a tool: the economy should be the servant rather than the master! The point of departure should be the alignment of policies with the ecosystem of which we form part.

Policy needs to be approached in a holistic manner, focusing simultaneously on social, environmental and economic considerations. It is not a question of an artificial balance between the three but of acting correctly each and every time. A policy, which is economically sound but socially and/or environmentally wobbly, is of no use. The reverse side is already common practice as socially and environmentally sound policies are rarely applied if they do not pass the test of economic viability.

The politics of sustainable development is concerned with redirecting economic activity such that this is compatible with ecological and social requirements. The environment, the economy and social needs are thus all factored in when decisions are taken. Throughout the years economic decisions have generally taken into consideration their social impacts. As a result, various measures have been introduced to mitigate and/or prevent negative social effects. The politics of social solidarity as developed has assisted in the transition from a free market economy to a social market economy.

The politics of sustainable development is the means leading to the next transition: to an economy which respects the ecology. The environmental impacts of social and economic policy require attention at the drawing board rather than mitigation after they have occurred. In order for this to occur, it is required that instead of facing the effects we direct our energies to tackle the causes.

It was for this purpose that the Environment Protection Act of 2001 provided in Section 8 for the setting up of a National Commission for Sustainable Development entrusted with the drafting of a National Strategy for Sustainable Development for the Maltese Islands. The Commission laboured between 2002 and 2006 to produce a draft, which was concluded and presented to Cabinet for approval in December 2006. Cabinet approved it late in 2007.

The National Commission for Sustainable Development was representative of society in that it was made up of representatives of Ministries and civil society. The Sustainable Development Bill is proposing the dismantling of the Commission and replacing it with a network, a smaller team in the interests of efficiency! The two frameworks are not incompatible. In fact when the Commission was functioning (even though its Chairman Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi never found time to participate in its workings) it had in fact selected a small group to coordinate its work.

While I understand that the government’s objective in creating the network is to facilitate implementation I submit that the existence of this newly proposed network is not incompatible with retaining the National Commission, which, through its wide-ranging composition was and can still be an effective sounding board for formulating the nuts and bolts of the politics of sustainable development.

It has to be borne in mind that sustainable development is also an exercise through which wide-ranging policy is formed through capillarity, rising from the roots of society, and not through filtration by dripping from the top downwards. It is hence essential to embrace structures which are representative of society. This is not sufficient but it is an essential element to be complemented by reaching out to those sectors of society which are vulnerable yet are still unorganised.

The UN Secretariat of the  Rio + 20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development due to be held next June has produced a draft document for discussion aptly referred to as the zero draft. It is entitled “The Future We Want”.

For sustainable development to take root, the strategy leading to sustainability must be owned by civil society, which must be in the driving seat of the process. This is “the Future we Want”. It has primarily to be a future which we can shape. A future which all of us can influence as it will impact not just those at the top of the pyramid but more so those at the very bottom.

Sustainable Development is not just an issue of environment but also one of justice, of dealing with issues of poverty and the distribution of wealth.

The future we want cannot exist without fulfilling the need of a fundamental change in  relationships. A change in the relationship between man and the earth. A change in the relationship between man and his/her fellow human beings.

This need for change can be fulfilled if we focus on the need to respect nature and fellow human beings. This is the balance to be achieved. This is the basis of sustainable development.

This article was published in The Independent on Sunday – Environment Supplement 25 March 2012

Meta tagħżaq fl-ilma

Il-bieraħ kont mistieden mill-Forum Ħbieb tal-Cottonera u Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar biex nindirizza konferenza tal-aħbarijiet dwar kif fil-Cottonera hemm il-biża’ li viżjoni ser tispiċċa delużjoni.

Il-Forum huwa immexxi mill-Membru Parlamentari Laburista Stefan Buontempo.

Għall-Forum fil-konferenza tkellem Keith Caruana filwaqt li Astrid Vella tkellmet għall FAA.

Għalija r-riabilitazzjoni tal-Cottonera falliet għax iffokat esklussivament fuq l-aspett fiżiku u ma ngħatatx attenzjoni lill-qasam soċjali u ekonomiku. Filwaqt li bħalissa kulħadd ifajjar dwar kemm huwa importanti l-iżvilupp sostenibbli ftit jifhmu li dawn m’humiex tlett oqsma li tagħżel minnhom skont kemm jogħġbok. Huma tlett ingredjenti essenzjali li flimkien huma meħtieġa biex żvilupp ikun aċċettabbli.

Ir-riabilitazzjoni tal-Cottonera, u wara kollox kważi kull riġenerazzjoni fl-ibliet u l-irħula tagħna, iffokat fuq l-aspett fiżiku prinċipalment dwar issues ta’ Housing. Li ġara ġeneralment kien li problemi f’naħa ġew trasportati f’naħa jew lokal ieħor iżda f’bini ġdid.

Ir-riabilitazzjoni trid tindirizza l-issues b’mod olistiku. Hemm ħtieġa li jissewwa t-tessut soċjali. Hemm bżonn li tinbena mill-ġdid il-ħajja ekonomika. Dawn flimkien mat-titjib fiżiku jistgħu jkunu għodda addattati għar-riabilitazzjoni tal-Cottonera. Mingħajr ma jkunx hemm it-tlett ingredjenti qed nagħżqu fl-ilma.

It is time to ride the waves

Continue reading

Kunsilli Lokali 2012 : il-kandidati ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

St Augustine College extension

Government’s proposal (one of three proposals) to offer the former Medical School at St Luke’s Hospital in lieu of the proposal to extend St Augustine’s College at Pieta is a sensible proposal.

When MEPA refused an application to extend St Augustine’s College through the construction of a Primary School on its grounds, in an area previously forming part of gardens in an Urban Conservation Area I had written an article entitled  Enough space exists for schools. This was published in The Times on the 11 February 2012 and is also available on this blog.

In that article I had suggested that rather than developing virgin land Govenrment should enter into an agreement with Church Schools such that where possible use of existing school buildings currently under-utilised could be made. This is a win-win situation.

In fact I had then stated that : “ ………….. rather than developing extensions incompatible with existing residential areas or, worse, developing virgin land, a possible solution to the expansion requirements of schools such as St Augustine in Pietà would be to enter into an agreement with the state to ensure better utilisation of the buildings used as state primary/secondary schools where this is possible. If we agree that more than enough land has been developed in Malta, the redevelopment of some of these sites could be an option worth considering as an alternative to the development of virgin sites and/or the overdevelopment of other sites.”

The proposal made by Government for the possible utilisation of  the former Medical school is compatible with principles of good administration and is to be applauded.  Irrespective of whether an agreement is reached or not.

This is the way forward. We cannot build more land, if we can avoid it. Using already committed land is the best way forward. The proposal to use the former Medical school is clear proof that it is possible to find solutions which do not sacrifice more virgin land. In addition such a solution will not create more problems for residents.

Greening our Communities

 

Alternattiva Demo­kratika will be fielding 10 candidates for next week’s local council elections. While many valid candidates are contesting these elections, the debate has focused on councillors who have created a mess. Topping the list are Sliema and Mosta who have let their electors down.

In Sliema, infighting, administrative irregularities and allegations of corruption (now under investigation) are surely not what electors voted for when they chose the candidates presented in 2009 by the Nationalist Party. The operation of the Sliema council over the past three years proves that in selecting its candidates the PN does not always consider competence as a primary criterion. The dissolution of the Sliema council was an appropriate step. It could, however, have been taken much earlier.

On March 10, electors will be called to clean up the mess created by Labour at Mosta where infighting has led to an ineffective council. I hasten to add that, notwithstanding the above, this council had quite a headache to bring its finances in order, an inheritance bequeathed by a 13-year PN council administration. Administrative incompetence at Mosta dates back to the first council that overspent its financial allocation, passing on the unsettled bills to subsequent councils. The unsettled bills surpassed the €1million mark!

The PN-led government has played a game of political chess at Mosta, tolerating infighting that led the council to miss meetings for five consecutive months. This should have led to its dissolution ages ago, thereby permitting the community to immediately replace those who could not deliver. By not dissolving the council, the government placed its political advantage before the interests of the Mosta community.

Last week, in an article in The Malta Independent, entitled The Way Ahead For Local Councils, Nationalist MP Robert Arrigo identified another serious issue. He spoke of instances where sitting MPs invest in the election of local councillors hoping that, upon election, they would have their protégés in place. It is very positive that Mr Arrigo emphasises that he will keep himself at arm’s length from direct involvement in the local elections in his constituencies.

Maybe it is also time to consider whether those employed in the private secretariats of holders of political office should be precluded from contesting local council elections.

AD has already had the opportunity to criticise Directive 5 issued by the Principal Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister dealing with the participation of public officers in politics. While the most pressing issue, the right of public officers below salary scale five to contest local council elections without being required to take forced unpaid leave was resolved, there are additional matters that need to be tackled. Directive 5 needs extensive revision.

AD’s local council electoral programme places community identity and basic community services as the focal point of its mission statement. Local councils exist to serve and protect local communities, yet, various local councils have remained silent when faced with rampant over-development, which has devoured precious spaces in our towns and villages. The Mosta local council, for example, was conspicuously absent in the Wied il-Għasel debate. Residents have only been supported by AD and environmental NGOs.

Similarly, in Sliema, the local council has lost its voice on issues of over-development. It’s been ages since it spoke up on behalf of Sliema residents who feel trampled upon by so-called “developers” who have taken over Sliema, which is nowadays a permanent construction site!

Another case focused on by AD is the impact on residents of a quarry at Wied Inċita, Attard, which is too close for comfort to the residential area. Illegal developments have taken place in the quarry and, notwithstanding that it has been reformed (!), alerted and reminded of the issue many a time, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority has let the quarry operators free to do as they please. Minister Jason Azzopardi is probably unaware that part of the quarry is government owned! AD has also drawn attention to the development that Mepa recently approved on Manoel Island. Building about 500 apartments together with other structures on Manoel Island is not a good omen!

Over-development has led to the current glut, quantified at 53,000 vacant residential units in 2005 and now estimated to surpass the 70,000 mark. This glut strains the local councils’ budget for the upkeep of localities as, in fact, it means that services are unnecessarily stretched to service ghost towns! Vacant residential property in Malta adds up to nine times the size of Birkirkara!

The election of green local councillors on March 10 will ensure that environmental issues will be at the top of the local councils’ agenda. For it is through tackling environmental issues at a local level that the quality of life of our communities takes a leap forward. Experience has shown time and again that this only happens when green local councillors are elected.

Green is the colour of real change.

 

originally published in The Times, March 3, 2012