The budget: beyond the €s

Liza Minelli’s song “Money makes the world go round” is the underlying theme of the Budget speech delivered by Finance Minister in Parliament last Monday. The message driven home was that money and the accompanying affluence clearly indicate that we have never had it so good and that handouts to all are not a problem, both to those who need them, and, more importantly to those who don’t.

Today, taxation is a dirty word in our political lexicon: hence, it was suggested that the message that no increases in existent taxes or new taxes have been proposed is a positive one by the Honourable Minister. Handouts are for all, almost. First for those in need, secondly for most of the rest. The dictum “from each according to his means, to each according to his needs” no longer has any significance when trying to understand the political philosophy underlying the budget of this “labour” government.

Taxation collected in Malta apparently only has some significance when taxing foreign companies operating outside Maltese territory but having some small office, or just a letterbox, on this rock. This is done so that they can avail themselves of reduced taxation rates, substantially lower that those payable in the countries where they operate.

Similarly, companies operating in the financial services sector benefit from a tax package which offers them substantial savings on their tax bills in order to entice them to set up shop.

The government thinks it is smart, but all it is doing is encouraging tax avoidance. Malta’s message is clear: those who want to avoid tax in their country are welcome as long as they are prepared to pay a small part of the taxes avoided to the Maltese exchequer.

In this respect, the case study entitled “Toxic Tax Deals. When BASF’s Tax Structure is more about style than substance” published by the Green Group in the European Parliament around two years ago is indicative. In that study, it was concluded that BASF, the German chemical giant with its headquarters in Ludwigshafen, used mismatches in national tax systems in order to avoid paying its taxes. It is estimated that, over a five-year period spanning 2010 to 2014, BASF avoided the payment of close to one billion euros in taxes, paying instead a small amount of the taxes avoided, in gratitude for this wonderful opportunity made possible by the Maltese governments, blue and red.

In this context the Finance Minister’s declaration against tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering is deemed mere rhetoric. It has to be viewed in the context of the Panama Papers saga, as well as the established fact that a Cabinet Minister and the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister set up companies in Panama, a tax haven, and no punitive action was taken against them. With this background, the Minister’s sanctimonious declaration is in no way credible.

The Budget proposals strengthen the social safety net as it assists the vulnerable financially. However, the quality of life is not measured solely by financial metrics. The Budget has various green gaps that affect our quality of life.

The welfare of cars assumes an importance over human quality of life, as government considers it is important to widen and improve roads in order to facilitate the passage of cars, thereby aiming at reducing congestion. An inverted sense of logic: reduction of the number of cars on our roads should have been the target as that is the real and actual problem. Widening roads and improving road infrastructure with flyovers and underpasses only serves to grow the number of cars on our roads, thereby increasing the problem. Providing and facilitating alternative transport is the only solution. Paying lip service to alternative means of transport but simultaneously financing an exponential
increase of the problem signifies that we still have to learn the ABC of transport policy.

The government’s own transport master-plan places considerable emphasis on the need to reduce cars from our roads but it seems that the government is not interested.

Therefore, we have a government which is more interested in the welfare of cars than in our quality of life.

This is just one example. There are countless of others.

The Budget loses an opportunity to make a lasting difference in a number of areas important for our quality of life that goes beyond finances.

published (online) at Malta Independent

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Il-baġit : lil hinn mill-€s

Id-diska ta’ Liza Minelli “Money makes the world go round” donnha li hi t-tema li madwarha hu minsuġ id-diskors tal-Baġit li nqara mill-Ministru tal-Finanzi nhar it-Tnejn fil-Parlament. Il-messaġġ ċar li wasal fi djarna kien li l-flus u l-“ġid” li hawn jagħmlu possibli li tirċievi ċekk id-dar, kemm jekk għandek bżonnu kif ukoll jekk m’għandekx.

F’dawn iż-żmienijiet il-kelma taxxa donna saret kelma moqżieża fid-dizzjunarju politiku: għalhekk ġie suġġerit li n-nuqqas ta’ taxxi ġodda, inkella ta’ żieda fit-taxxi eżistenti kien element pożittiv fid-diskors tal-Onorevoli Ministru. Ċekkijiet għal kważi kulħadd. L-ewwel għal dawk li għandhom il-ħtieġa u mbagħad għall-parti l-kbira tal-bqija. Dak li kien jingħad li “jittieħed mingħand kull wieħed skont ma jiflaħ, u jingħata lil kulħadd skont il-ħtiġijiet tiegħu” donnu li ma għandu l-ebda piz illum meta nippruvaw nifhmu l-filosofija politika li fuqha hu mfassal dan il-baġit ta’ Gvern “Laburista”.

It-taxxa li tinġabar f’Malta donnha li hi utli biss meta tinġabar mingħand kumpaniji barranin li fil-waqt li joperaw barra mit-teritorju Malti jkollhom uffiċċju żgħir jew sempliċi letterbox f’Malta. Dan biex ikunu jistgħu jibbenefikaw minn rati ta’ taxxa sostanzjalment iktar baxxi minn dawk li jkunu soġġetti għalihom fil-pajjiżi fejn joperaw.

Diversi kumpaniji fis-settur tas-servizzi finanzjarji ukoll jibbenefikaw minn rati ta’ taxxa li bihom jiffrankaw sostanzjalment minn dak li jħallsu band’oħra.

Il-Gvern mingħalih li għamel opra. Fir-realtá qed jibgħat messaġġ li Malta tilqa’ li min irid jevadi t-taxxa f’pajjiżu, kemm-il darba jkun lest li jħalli xi ħaġa minn dak li jiffranka fil-kaxxa ta’ Malta!

F’dan il-kuntest l-istudju intitolat Toxic Tax Deals. When BASF’s Tax Structure is more about style than substance. ippubblikat mill-Grupp tal-Ħodor fil-Parlament Ewropew madwar sentejn ilu jispjega b’mod ċar x’inhu jiġri. F’dan l-istudju ġie konkluż li l-BASF, ġgant Ġermaniz fil-qasam tal-industrija kimika ibbazat f’Ludwigshafen, jagħmel użu minn differenzi fis-sitemi nazzjonali tat-taxxa biex jevita milli jħallas it-taxxi dovuti. Huwa stmat li, tul il-ħames snin bejn l-2010 u l-2014, BASF evitaw madwar biljun euro fi ħlas ta’ taxxi. Minflok ħallsu ammonti ferm inqas, b’ħajr lill-gvernijiet Maltin (blu u ħomor) talli għinhom jevitaw dawn it-taxxi kollha.

F’dan il-kuntest id-dikjarazzjoni tal-Ministru tal-Finanzi kontra l-evażjoni tat-taxxa u l-ħasil tal-flus jidhru dak li fil-fatt huma: eżerċizzju ta’ retorika. Inżommu f’moħħna ukoll il-kaz tal-Panama Papers, li kien stabilixxa l-fatt li membru tal-Kabinett u ċ-Chief of Staff fl-uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru kellhom kumpaniji fil-Panama, pajjiż rinomat għall-evażjoni tat-taxxa, u dwar dan ma kienu ittieħdu l-ebda passi kontra tagħhom. Fid-dawl ta’ dan, id-dikjarazzjoni ta’ “qdusija” da parti tal-Onorevoli Ministru hi nieqsa minn kull kredibilitá.

Il-proposti tal-Baġit isaħħu ix-xibka soċjali u dan billi jgħinu finanzjarjament lill-vulnerabbli. Imma l-kwalitá tal-ħajja ma titkejjilx biss f’termini ta’ flus. Fil-Baġit hemm bosta miżuri ambjentali nofs leħja.

Il-ħarsien tal-karozzi huwa iktar importanti mill-kwalitá tal-ħajja għalina. Il-Gvern jikkunsidra li hu iktar importanti li jwessa’ t-toroq biex jiffaċilita ċ-ċaqlieq tal-karozzi u b’hekk jipprova jnaqqas il-konġestjoni. Loġika rasha l-isfel. Il-mira kellha tkun it-tnaqqis tal-karozzi mit-toroq tagħna għax dik hi l-problema. It-twessiegħ tat-toroq u t-titjib tal-infrastruttura bil-kostruzzjoni ta’ flyovers lil hawn u lil hemm iwassal biss għaż-żieda ta’ karozzi fit-toroq tagħna u b’hekk tikber il-problema tal-konġestjoni. L-unika soluzzjoni hi li jkun inkoraġġit bis-serjetá t-trasport alternattiv. Il-Gvern qiegħed fl-istess nifs jinkoraġixxi kemm lit-trasport alternattiv kif ukoll iż-żieda fenomenali ta’ karozzi: dan ifisser li għadu ma tgħallem xejn. Wara kollox huwa l-pjan nazzjonali tat-trasport imfassal minn dan il-Gvern stess li jpoġġi quddiemna l-mira tat-tnaqqis tal-karozzi mit-toroq tagħna. Imma jidher li l-Gvern qed iwarrab il-pjani tiegħu stess.

L-Gvern hu iktar interessat mill-ħarsien tal-karozzi milli mill-ħarsien tal-kwalitá tal-ħajja tagħna lkoll.

Dan hu biss eżempu wieħed. Hemm bosta oħrajn.

Il-Baġit qed jitlef l-oportunitá li jagħmel differenza f’numru ta’ oqsma fejn li troxx il-flus mhux biżżejjed.

 

Ippubblikat fuq Illum: Il-Ħadd 28 t’Ottubru 2018

Green gaps in the Budget

The green gaps in the Budget speech cannot be patched up with the millions of euros spread in the pockets of both those in need as well as those who are well off.

Edward Scicluna’s Budget speech last Monday was far too long. Yet in its over 100 pages it missed addressing a number of environmental issues on which different government spokespersons pontificate throughout the rest of the year: confirming that they just pay lip-service to the issues.

The lack of good environmental governance has considerable economic and social impact as is evident to one and all.

While the Budget proposals strengthen the social safety net, it is to be underlined that quality of life is not measured solely in terms of financial metrics. Throwing euros at problems does not lead to any solutions.

The budget speech correctly emphasises the necessity of waste recycling. Unfortunately, the Minister for Finance did not explain how this effort should be integrated into a circular economy, even though the Environment Minister repeatedly boasts of how supposedly the move towards a circular economy is a priority for government. In the entire speech, the circular economy is not mentioned once. Nor does the Economic Survey dwell on the matter or even faintly refer to the matter.

This raises the suspicion that government has lost the plot and does not have any policy ideas on such an important aspect of the economy with its social, economic and environmental effects.

The Budget speech emphasises the energy generation potential from waste incineration which requires large volumes of waste in order to be viable. But the budget speech is silent on how this fits in with the stated commitment to actually reduce the volume of waste.

The government is trying to square the circle; on the one hand it wants to reduce waste but on the other hand it needs more and more waste to make its huge incinerator viable.
The Budget speech also gives the impression that it addresses important aspects which impact the quality of life when in fact offers only half-baked and token solutions.

Among them is the point on water policy. The speech mentions incentives to encourage repairs of existing wells but then it avoids altogether a real and focused effort to address the acute issue of dwellings built without water cisterns, with the consequence that water ends up in the public sewers or flooding our streets.

Developers are let of the hook even when roads are flooded and sewers are overflowing, not to mention the sheer waste of perfectly good water.

The same can be said of the supposed solutions to traffic congestion. The Budget speech refers to the financial incentives available to encourage the use of alternative modes of transport, but here again it ignores the roots of the problem. The government spending of millions of euros for the development of the road infrastructure will only increase traffic congestion, thereby squeezing users of alternative means of transport off the roads.

It is useless to incentivize the purchase of bicycles and pedelecs when there is no investment in adequate infrastructure to ensure that people can commute safely using these important alternative means of transport, which actually help to decrease congestion in our roads.

Over one year ago the Prime Minister had taken a leaf from Alternattiva Demokratika’s electoral manifesto and declared that the government will determine a cut-off date by which new cars will need to be electrically driven or possibly of a hybrid nature.

This declaration had heralded the issue of electrification of transport on our roads addressing two major issues: the quality of air and the contribution of transport emissions to climate change. This, once implemented, would be a substantial contribution to the decarbonisation of the Maltese economy. We are none the wiser on government plans after listening to or reading the budget speech.

Clearly financial parameters are not the only indicators of our quality of life. The green gaps in the budget speech need plugging at the soonest.

published in The Sunday Times of Malta : Sunday 28 October 2018

AD dwar il-BUDGET 2019 – “IL-KEJL TAL-KWALITA` TAL-ĦAJJA MA JISTAX IKUN BISS IL-FLUS”

PR23/10/2018 BUDGET 2019 – “IL-KEJL TAL-KWALITA` TAL-ĦAJJA MA JISTAX IKUN BISS IL-FLUS” – AD

Fi stqarrija bl-ewwel reazzjonijiet għall-Budget iċ-Chairperson tal-AD Carmel Cacopardo qal li min-naħa, il-proposti tal-Budget isaħħu ix-xibka soċjali billi jgħin diversi kategoriji ta’ persuni. Madanakollu, l-kejl tal-progress tal-kwalita` tal-ħajja imbagħad jieqaf ħesrem milli jikkunsidra aspetti ohra daqstant ieħor importanti.

Jagħmel sens li tissemma l-ħtieġa ta’ riċiklar tal-iskart. Li l-budget ma jindirizzax huwa kif dan l-isforz jintegra ruħu fl-ekonomija ċirkolari anke jekk il-ministru tal-ambjent kemm-il darba ftaħar fuq il-priorita` ta’ din l-ekonomija. Fid-diskors kollu, l-ekonomija ċirkolari ma tissemmiex darba. Jinbet għaldaqstant is-suspett li l-gvern tilef il-boxxla fuq aspett tant importanti fuq bazi ekonomika, soċjali u ambjentali.

Id-diskors jagħmel enfasi fuq il-generazzjoni tal-enerġija mill-inċinerazzjoni tal-iskart li tirrikjedi volumi kbar ta’ skart biex tkun vijabbli. Id-diskors ma jsemmi xejn fuq kif dan jintrabat ma inizjattivi ta’ riċiklar li jnaqqsu l-istess volum tal-iskart. Il-Gvern qisu jrid jikkonvinċina li min-naħa l-waħda jrid inaqqas l-iskart imma min-naha l-oħra għandu bżonnu għax mingħajru l-inċineratur ma jaħdimx.

Id-diskors tal-budget jagħti wkoll impressjoni li qed jindirizza aspetti importanti li jimpattaw il-kwalita` tal-ħajja meta fil-fatt joffri biss soluzzjonijiet nofs leħja. Fosthom hemm il-politika dwar l-ilma. Id-diskors isemmi inċentivi għal tiswijiet ta’ bjar eżistenti imma ma jagħmel l-ebda sforz biex jindirizza il-kwistjoni akuta ta’ abitazzjonijiet bla bjar li bħala konsegwenza ta’ dan jarmu l-ilma tax-xita fid-drenaġġ jew fit-toroq. AD kienet tistenna kif dan in-nuqqas nazzjonali jibda jiġi ndirizzat kemm għax jikkonserva l-ilma kif ukoll għax itaffi l-gharghar kif ukoll inaqqas il-fawran tad-drenaġġ fit-toroq Maltin wara xita qalila bħalma kellna fl-aħħar jiem.
L-istess jista’ jingħad għal soluzzjonijiet tal-konġestjoni tat-traffiku. Id-diskors jalludi għal inċentivi fiskali li jħajru l-użu ta’ mezzi alternattivi ta’ trasport filwaqt li jinjora għal kollox aspetti iktar kruċjali. Il-Perit Cacopardo tenna li inutli li l-gvern ser jonfoq mitt miljun fit-toroq f’sena meta kull ma qed jagħmel huwa li jakkomda iktar karozzi fit-toroq. Daqstant ieħor huwa inutli li l-budget jagħti inċentivi fuq ix-xiri ta’ roti u pedelecs jekk ma jiżgurax infrastruttura adegwata biex dawn il-mezzi jintużaw mingħajr periklu.

Fuq l-ambjent in ġenerali il-budget għal darb’ oħra jerġa’ jitkellem fuq pjan strategiku għall-ambjent qisu pjan strategiku bħala pajjiz qatt ma kellna. Il-Perit Cacopardo qal li dan jinkwieta lil AD għax jagħti l-impressjoni li pajjiżna ser jerġa’ jinħela fuq strateġija oħra meta li jonqos hija fuq kollox l-azzjoni konkreta li biha jiġu attwati il-pjanijiet strateġiċi li bħala pajjiz ilna s-snin li ddiskutejna u fassalna.

Cacopardo qal ukoll li d-diskors tal-budget kien saħansitra kontradittorju. F’waqt minnhom il-ministru tal-finanzi jiddikjara ruħu kontra l-evażjoni tat-taxxa. Fl-istess ħin iżda, ma jitkellimx fuq il-fatt li l-gvern malti tal-lum, bħal ta’ qablu, sistematikament jinkoraggixxi kumpaniji barranin li jirreġistraw Malta bil-karrotta ta’ ħlas ta’ inqas taxxi milli kieku jħallsu fil-pajjiz tal-oriġini tagħhom. Fl-istess waqt ukoll, il-ministru tal-finanzi naqas milli jidħol fuq kif il-gvern biħsiebu jindirizza l-kontradizzjoni li jaħdem kontra l-evazjoni tat-taxxa meta fi ħdanu hemm funzjonarji li fetħu kontijiet fil-Panama bl-intenzjoni li l-gwadann tagħhom ma jidhirx u għaldaqstant jevadu t-taxxa. Bejn il-kliem u l-fatti hemm il-baħar jikkumbatti, tenna jghid il-Perit Cacopardo.

Id-diskors jirreferi wkoll għas-saltna tad-dritt u għal darb’ohra jipprova jagħti l-impressjoni li pajjiżna miexi fuq ir-rubini. Madanakollu id-diskors iħalli barra aspett l-iktar kruċjali li jindirizza it-tisħiħ tas-saltna tad-dritt; it-tnedija tal-konvenzjoni kostituzzjonali li konvenjentement tħalliet fuq l-ixkaffa għal snin sħaħ. “Huwa biss meta nindirizzaw it-tqassim tal-poter u s-sorveljanza tiegħu li jkun possibbli li nagħmlu qabża fil-kwalita` lejn saltna tad-dritt li tkun effettiva” sostna l-Perit Cacopardo.

Hemm imbagħad aspetti li id-diskors tal-budget injora kompletament. Dawn jinkludu l-proposta li qed issir minn numru ta’ korpi kostitwiti għal determinazzjoni tal-living wage li taghti dinjita` lil ħaddiema kollha. Huwa ta’ għajb ukoll li l-bagit jitkellem fuq l-imigrazzjoni bħala kwistjoni ta’ sigurta` u ma jsemmi xejn fuq investiment fl-integrazzjoni ta’ persuni li qed jagħtu kontribut lis-soċjeta` Maltija. Il-budget lanqas ma jitkellem fuq mezzi kreattivi li ilhom l-għexieren ta’ snin jeżistu f’pajjiżi oħra fosthom il-ħolqien ta’ koperattivi fil-qasam tal-housing li jnaqqsu l-pressjoni finanzjarja fuq numru sostanzjali ta’ persuni. Il-budget ikompli jitkellem fuq iż-żieda tan-numru ta’ turisti f’Malta u Ghawdex u ma jitkellem xejn fuq is-sostenibbilta` tal-attivita` turistika li mingħajrha jiddgħajjef l-prodott turistiku nnifsu b’detriment għall-ekonomija u l-kwalita` tal-ħajja tal-Maltin u Għawdxin.

Cacopardo tenna wkoll it-tħassib tal-Alternattiva Demokratika li għal darb’oħra, iż-żieda fuq l-għoli tal-ħajja qed tinħadem fuq formola li thejjiet snin ilu u li għaldaqstant tagħti stampa żbaljata ta’ kemm attwalment għandu jkun il-kumpens tal-għoli tal-ħajja illum.

Huwa ndikattiv ukoll li l-ħarsien ta’ persuni bl-awtiżmu, fost persuni oħra, l-budget jitkellem fuqhom fil-kapitlu tas-saħħa meta illum ilna li morna lil hinn mill-mudell mediku tal-mod kif inħarsu lejn dawn il-kundizzjonijiet. Alternattiva Demokratika tistenna li l-inklużjoni ta’ persuni differenti tigi ttrattata mil-lat edukattiv mhux mil-lat mediku.

“Kollox ma kollox filwaqt li l-budget jenfasizza l-ġid finanzjarju, fl-istess waqt jitlef opportunita` li jagħmel differenza f’numru ta’ oqsma li jmorru lil hinn mill-but imma li għandhom impatt sostanzjali fuq il-kwalita` tal-ħajja ta’ kulhadd” temm jgħid il-Perit Cacopardo.

 

 

Taming the residential rental market

The proposals in the White Paper entitled Renting as a Housing Alternative is a breath of fresh air in the long overdue debate on the need to regulate the rental market for residential property.

As rightly pointed out in the White Paper, the Maltese community has developed an allergy to local rent regulation as, when it existed, it was generally too rigid. It oscillated from strict over-protection of the tenant to absolutely no controls.

For a very long time, we also ended up with temporary legislative provisions enacted during the war which were over-stretched too long after their useful life. In effect, this reluctance over the years to introduce proper landlord and tenant legislation effectively killed off the rental market for a long time and it is only as a result of this fact that Malta is a nation of home-owners: it would not have developed in this way, had the post-war governments got their priorities right.

The proposals put forward by the White Paper are generally a good step forward. If properly implemented, they will go a long way towards laying the foundations for a stable residential rental market based on adequate (and necessary) protection of both landlords and tenants. A serious debate is, however essential in order to avoid creating unnecessary difficulties.

The rental market is currently in a state of anarchy, where the only applicable rules that apply are those of the jungle – where might is right – because, so far, the state has abdicated its duties to protect the vulnerable from the excesses of the market. Subject to the three exceptions listed in the White Paper (temporary foreign workers, tertiary education students and temporary leases for persons repairing and/or upgrading their own homes) establishing the period of one year as the minimum length of a residential lease addresses the abuse currently resulting from short-term leases. Likewise, establishing as a duty of landlords to give a suitable notice period of their intention not to renew a lease is right and proper. It is in everybody’s interest that everyone is aware of their rights and duties, as this will lead to better planning on all sides and, consequently, to a more stable and civil relationship between landlords and tenants.

It was also about time that the deposit requested on the signing of lease agreements are properly regulated – both as to the actual need for a deposit, its quantum and the circumstances in which it would be reasonable for it not to be refunded. This is a subject about which countless stories of actual abuse on the part of both landlords and tenants abound and regulation of it will bring some sense into the subject.

It is also right that variations to the rent to be paid during the period of the lease are properly regulated,  thereby defining the limits of permissibility. Too strict a limitation, however, will lead to a preponderance of short-term lease agreements because the market prefers frequent rental revisions that enable the rent payable to be as close as possible to the full market value.

Registering lease agreements is a step forward. It will not only lead to a check to  ensure that agreements comply with the new legislation but will also have the potential to ensure that tax evasion associated with rent paid is history.

When considering the White Paper’s proposals, one should avoid introducing unnecessary exceptions as these will only serve to stultify the objective of the exercise: the development of a stable rental market for residential properties. In particular, the proposal in the White Paper to justify the premature determination of a lease agreement, when a landlord needs the property for his own use or in order to sell with vacant possession or else to redevelop it, is uncalled for. Given that the residential leases in question will most probably be short-term leases anyway (between one and five years) no harm will be done to anyone if the landlord patiently awaits until the end of the lease before taking back possession.

The current proposals, with the one exception referred to above, are an essential next step to help the residential rental market develop properly. On their own, however, they are insufficient because they must be supported by a Housing Authority that proactively addresses the needs of the vulnerable when facing the market, which is eager to fleece those who meekly submit themselves as they see no way of becoming homeowners!

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 22 October 2018

Il-basla li daħal fiha David Casa

L-istorja dal-għodu fil-Malta Today dwar il-Membru Parlamentari Ewropew David Casa u d-droga kokaina hi waħda gravi. Ma nafx jekk hiex minna jew le. Biż-żmien insiru nafu iktar dwar jekk hiex storja ivvintata inkella jekk hiex storja reali. Ovvjament, din l-istorja, barra milli hi ezerċizzju ta’ tpattija għal tkeċċija mix-xogħol hi storja immirata lejn il-kredibilitá ta’ David Casa u dan fir-rigward tal-posizzjoni iebsa li qed jieħu fil-Parlament Ewropew dwar diversi materji.

Jekk dak li qed jintqal hu minnu David Casa għandu bżonn l-għajnuna biex jindirizza d-dipendenza fuq id-droga. Jekk min-naħa l-oħra mhux minnu, l-problema xorta hi waħda kbira.

Qed jingħad li dak li kien assistant ta’ David Casa u oriġina din l-istorja tkeċċa mix-xogħol tiegħu (bħala assistant ta’ David Casa) għax kien qed ikun repetutament fis-sakra fuq ix-xogħol minħabba problemi kbar li kien qed jiffaċċa, fosthom kont ta’ mitt elf ewro ta’ arretrati ta’ taxxa fuq id-dħul. Anke dan għandu bżonn għajnuna kbira u mhux min jinqeda bih f’mumenti ta’ dgħjufija, irrispettivament minn jekk l-istorja hiex minna jew le! Dejjem sakemm ma sabx lil min ħallaslu jew ħafirlu l-kont tat-taxxa, kollu jew parti minnu!

Qed jissemmew diversi problemi inkluż li dan l-ex-assistent ta’ David Casa kien tkeċċa mis- segretarjat privat ta’ Austin Gatt fl-2002 meta l-Pulizja kien tellgħuh il-Qorti dwar negozju ta’ ċekkijiet f’munita barranija. Akkuża li, għandu jingħad, kien liberat minna.

Meta timpjega lil min ikun fid-dell ta’ dan it-taħwid f’postijiet sensittivi, x’tistenna? Mhux li xi darba jew oħra jdaħħluk f’xi basla?

The Guardian of Future Generations

The politics of sustainable development advocates a long-term view. The familiar Brundtland definition put forward in Our Common Future – the concluding report of the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 – is clear enough: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs. (Gro Harlem Brundtland is a former Norwegian Social Democrat Prime Minister.)

This definition has been quoted quite often, but when it comes to its implementation, matters generally develop on a different path. Short-term needs take over, making a mockery of all declarations in favour of sustainable development. Way back in 1987,
Brundtland sought to drawn our attention to this. In fact, her report emphasises the fact that:  “We act as we do because we can get away with it: future generations do not vote; they have no political or financial power; they cannot challenge our decisions.”

This was the reason why, on behalf of Alternattiva Demokratika, way back in 2012 I  proposed the setting up of a Guardian of Future Generations – a proposal that had originally been presented by Malta at the preparatory meetings for the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and which was taken on board by Mario de Marco, then Environment Minister.

The position was set up as part of the provisions of the Sustainable Development Act of 2012 but unfortunately, since day one, not enough resources have been made available in order that the Guardian of Future Generations may act today on behalf of a better tomorrow.

Chev. Maurice Mizzi, who currently heads the Guardian of Future Generations, recently issued a statement which gave the thumbs down to the dB-ITS project at Pembroke. Chev. Mizzi emphasised that it was the lack of a masterplan for the area that justified applying the breaks to the project at this point in time. He further stated that there was a need for all authorities to place more value on the views of the common citizens, so that they are empowered to ensure that their rights, as well as their quality of life, are properly protected.

Without in any way diminishing the positive step taken by the Guardian of Future Generations in respect of the dB-ITS project, I would respectfully point out that we have not heard much more from that end. The list of responsibilities of the Guardian is long and if acted upon, would make the Guardian much more than a post of symbolic value, as described by the local press recently.

The list of responsibilities of the Guardian are grouped in the legislation under ten headings ranging from the promotion of sustainable development advocacy across national policy making, legislation and practices, to encouraging sustainable development within the private sector right and up to the need to direct the focus of the Office of the Prime Minister to safeguard future generations.

After six years of existence it is about time that the Guardian of Future Generations stands up on its feet and speaks out loud and clear on all matters that will have an impact on future generations. Unfortunately, so far it has rarely spoken up, apart from regarding the db-ITS project statement. This is certainly not enough. I have no doubt that the Guardian would like to do more, but it cannot because it has been deprived of resources – which has been the situation since it was created.

The Guardian of Future Generations has a lot of potential which is as yet undeveloped. The time for taking action is ripe.

 

published in The Independent on Sunday : 14 October 2018

Avukati, pulizija u l-kriminali ta’ wara l-iskrivanija

 

Naħseb li hu ċar għal kulħadd li xi avukati huma familjari ftit iżżejjed ma’ kriminali li hawn jiġru mas-saqajn. Dan kien wieħed mit-temi li Daphne Caruana Galizia analizzat fil-blog tagħha tul is-snin. L-imġieba tagħhom kienet taħt il-lenti tagħha: lenti li tifli b’reqqa.

Dak li qed jingħad bħalissa dwar Chris Cardona, avukat u Ministru, jagħmel ħafna sens f’dan il-kuntest. Nifhem li hu jiċħad b’qawwa l-konklużjonijiet loġiċi ta’ dak li qiegħed jingħad. L-istess bħalma ċaħad l-istejjer dwar żjara fil-burdell FKK Acapulco fil-lokal ta’ Verbert ħdejn Düsseldorf fil-Ġermanja. Hekk kif waslet is-siegħa tal-prova dwar fejn kien skond kif jirriżulta mill-informazzjoni li kien jittrasmetti l-mobile tiegħu, il-kawżi ta’ libell waqfu, u l-provi ma nstemgħux.

Ovvjament kulħadd għandu dritt jasal għall-konklużjonijiet tiegħu. Jiena bħal ħafna oħrajn ikkonkludejt li ċ-ċahdiet ta’ Chris Cardona ma tistax teħodhom bis-serjetá. Din hi materja gravi ħafna, għax Chris Cardona mhux biċċa avukat, imma Deputat Mexxej tal-Partit Laburista u Ministru. Bħala Maltin għandna d-dritt li l-Ministri u l-uffiċjali tal-partiti politiċi jkunu persuni serji u ta’ integritá, li ma twaqqawlniex wiċċna l-art.

Diversi qed jinsistu li hemm bżonn inkjesta speċjali dwar il-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia. Il-Gvern ħa l-posizzjoni li dwar jekk hemmx din il-ħtieġa jiddeċiedi iktar tard wara l-konklużjoni tal-inkjesta maġisterjali. Joseph Muscat qed jgħid li jekk ma jsirx hekk l-inkjesta maġisterjali tista’ tkun preġudikata.

Ma naqbilx ma dak li qed jgħid Joseph Muscat għax l-iskop taż-żewġ inkjesti hu differenti. Kif kien ġara dwar l-inċident tax-xufier/pulizija li kellu Manwel Mallia, dakinnhar Ministru għall-Intern. Dakinnhar kien hemm żewġ inkjesti għaddejjin flimkien u safejn naf jien l-ebda waħda mill-inkjesti ma kienet ta’ xkiel għall-inkjesta l-oħra.

L-inkjesta speċjali hi meħtieġa dwar il-kollass tal-istituzzjonijiet nazzjonali u l-kontribut ta’ dan il-kollass biex żviluppat is-sitwazzjoni attwali. Hemm bżonn ukoll spjegazzjoni li tagħmel sens għaliex il-maġistrat li kien qiegħed jinvestiga l-qtil ta’ Daphne ingħata promozzjoni fl-iktar mument kritiku għall-inkjesta kif ukoll jekk hux veru li kellu jiffaċċja ostakli kbar fil-ħidma tiegħu.

Għax uħud mill-kriminali li hawn jiġru mas-saqajn jista’ jkun li huma liebsin il-ġlekk u l-ingravata u qegħdin wara l-iskrivanija.

Daphne: min ordna l-qtil tagħha?

Fi żmien ġimgħa oħra (nhar it-Tlieta 16 t’Ottubru) tkun għaddiet sena mill-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia. S’issa l-Pulizija bdiet proċeduri kontra dawk li hu allegat li wettqu l-qtil. Iżda min ordna l-qtil  għadu mhux magħruf. Il-Pulizija għad ma skoprewx min hu, jew min hi jew min huma.

Il-ġimgħa l-oħra l-Qorti Kostituzzjonali iddeċidiet li d-Deputat Kummissarju tal-Pulizija Silvio Valletta, li hu miżżewweġ lill-Ministru Justyne Caruana, ma kellux ikun parti mill-investgazzjoni tal-Pulizija dwar il-qtil ta’ Daphne u dan minħabba li l-presenza tiegħu fl-investgazzjoni tnissel dubji serji f’moħħ in-nies dwar l-imparzjalitá tal-investigazzjoni.

La Republica, il-bierah, f’artiklu intitolat: “Omicidio Daphne Caruana Galizia, ci fu un altro incontro tra uno dei killer e il ministro maltese” bħala parti mill-inkjesta Daphne project titkellem dwar bachleor’s party li sar f’villa fil-Fawwara nhar id-29 ta’ Ġunju 2017, erba’ xhur qabel il-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia. Fost dawk preżenti, jkompli jgħid ir-rapport, kien hemm il-Ministru Chris Cardona kif  ukoll Alfred Degiorgio (il-Fulu), wieħed mill-akkużati bil-qtil ta’ Daphne.

Ir-rapport ikompli jgħid li persuna (li isimha ma tissemmiex fir-rapport) wara li ċemplet lil Daphne fuq il-mobile biex tagħtiha informazzjoni dwar l-istorja tal-kuntrabandu taż-żejt, ċemplet lill-Ministru Cardona u immedjatament wara lil Alfred Degiorgio il-fulu.

Il-Ministru Cardona qed jiċħad dan kollu. Dan hu kollu attentat biex iħammġuh Chris Cardona qal lit-Times: hu insista b’qawwa li ma għandu l-ebda konnessjoni mal-persuna li tissemma u li hi akkużata bl-attentat tal-qtil (Il-Fulu, jiġifieri). Tajjeb ħafna!

Ir-rapport jgħid iktar. Jgħid li l-Maġistrat Anthony Vella, li mexxa l-inkjesta mill-bidu nett, kien talab għar-records telefoniċi ta’ dawk li kienu qed jissemmew għal dati ferm qabel ma seħħ il-qtil. Din l-informazzjoni damet ħafna ma waslet għand il-Maġistrat, jgħid ir-rapport, tant li sadanittant kien laħaq imħallef u allura ma kienx għadu inkarigat mill-inkjesta.

S’issa għad mhux magħruf x’ġara iktar minn din l-informazzjoni, jigifieri jekk kienx hemm min investiga jekk din hiex vera jew le. Iċ-ċaħda tal-Ministru Cardona hi importanti, imma ċertament mhiex biżżejjed.

Dan kollu jista’ jfisser ħafna. Imma jista’ ukoll ma jfisser xejn. Jista’ jkun stabilit jekk din hiex informazzjoni relevanti biss jekk ikun hemm il-possibilitá li din l-informazzjoni tkun eżaminata bir-reqqa. Jidher li dan kien qed jipprova jagħmel il-Maġistrat Anthony Vella sakemm, ingħata promotion, u allura ma setax jibqa’ jmexxi l-inkjesta.

Din gravi ħafna. Xi ħadd għandu l-obbligu li jispjega.

Sakemm ta’ La Republica m’humiex qed iħarrfu, jekk l-investigazzjoni issir bis-serjetá, din tista’ tkun il-bidu reali tat-tiftix tal-mandant tal-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Kif qal fil-Qorti Silvio Valletta, Deputat Kummissarju tal-Pulizija, minn din l-inkjesta ħadd ma hu eskluż!

Nirriċiklaw l-iskart organiku

Kulma narmu għandu użu: anke ż-żibel hu utli. Is-separazzjoni tal-iskart, illum, hi parti essenzjali mir-rutina tal-ħajja tagħna. Nisseparaw il-karta, il-ħġieg, il-metall u l-plastic. Dan huwa kollu materjal li jista’ jerġa’ jintuża’. Ifisser ukoll li jkun hemm bżonn ferm inqas enerġija biex ikun hemm produzzjoni ta’ iktar karta, ħġieġ, metalli u plastic mill-prodotti li nirriċiklaw. Dawn flok ma jintremew fil-miżbla jibqgħu jiċċirkulaw fl-ekonomija. Dab hu l-bażi tal-ekonomija ċirkulari. Hu l-futur.

Nirriċiklaw ukoll l-apparat elettriku u elettroniku. It-TV, il-fridge, ir-radju, il–komputer jew il-laptop. Flok ma jintremew, illum il-ġurnata jżarmawhom biċċa biċċa u l-partijiet kollha tagħhom jerġgħu jagħmlu użu minnhom. Uħud minn dan l-apparat ikollu materjali rari: hu iktar utli għal kulħadd li minflok dawn ma jintremew jiġu utilizzati mill-ġdid.

Nirriċikaw ukoll il-batteriji għax meta dawn jintremew fil-miżbliet, biż-żmien, iniġġsu kull m’hemm u jagħmlu ħsara kbira ambjentali.

Tlett snin ilu l-Wasteserve tat bidu għal proġett pilota li ffoka fuq is-separazzjoni tal-iskart organiku. Kien proġett limitat għal numru żgħir ta’ lokalitajiet imma bl-intenzjoni li jqiegħed il-pedamenti biex is-separazzjoni tal-iskart organiku tkun prattika li tinfirex mal-pajjiż kollu. Dan fil-fatt ser jibda jseħħ minn nhar l-Erbgħa 31 t’Ottubru.

Dan l-iskart organiku jammonta għal madwar 50% tal-iskart li sal-lum inpoġġu fil-borża s-sewda li tinġabar minn wara l-bibien ta’ djarna. L-iskart organiku ser jibda jinġabar għalih f’borza bajda. F’kull residenza qed jitqassmu boroż bojod u bins apposta u ġie spjegat lilhom x’għandhom jagħmlu biex ikun jista’ jinġabar l-iskart organiku li huma jiġġeneraw.

Fil-borza l-bajda tal-iskart organiku tista’ titfa’ l-fdailjiet tal-ikel, nej jew imsajjar, ħaxix, ħut u frott, qxur tal-frott u tal-ħaxix, ħobż, teabags u kafè midħun, qxur tal-bajd, paper napkins u karti maħmuġin, weraq u fjuri. Lista twila ħafna.

L-iskart organiku fil-borża l-bajda jinġabar minn wara l-bibien tad-djar tagħna u jittieħed fl-impjant ta’ Sant Antnin f’Marsaskala fejn wara li issir verifika li fil-fatt fil-borża hemm biss skart organiku jitqiegħed f’apparat imsejjaħ waste digester fejn dan l-iskart jiddikomponi u minnu jinġabar gass li iktar tard jinħaraq biex jipproduċi l-elettriku. Minbarra l-elettriku tkun ukoll prodotta sħana li permezz tagħha, fost oħrajn, ser jissaħħan is-swimming pool tal-Fondazzjoni Inspire f’Marsaskala liema swimming pool jintuża bħala parti mill-għajnuna terrapewtika lill-komunità b’diżabilità. Dak li jibqa’, imbagħad, jintuża bħala compost. Għax fil-fatt, mill-iskart organiku, ma jintrema xejn.

Għalhekk huwa importanti li nirriċiklaw. Għax dak li, sal-lum, kull wieħed minna jarmi għandu użu. Meta nirriċiklaw nevitaw jew innaqqsu ħafna ħsara ambjentali u nagħtu kontribut biex ilkoll ngħixu ħajja aħjar.

Ir-riżultati li nkisbu mill-proġett pilota dwar is-separazzjoni tal-iskart organiku li inbeda tlett snin ilu għad m’humiex magħrufa pubblikament. Dan jeħtieġ li jsir biex ikun possibli li jsir skrutinju pubbliku adegwat. Kulħadd japprezza l-preparazzjoni estensiva biex ikun assigurat li fl-aħħar t’Ottubru l-ġbir tal-parti organika tal-iskart li niġġeneraw jimxi sewwa. Imma hemm bżonn li jkun hemm iktar informazzjoni dwar dak li sar s’issa.

Ippubblikat f’Illum: il-Ħadd 7 t’Ottubru 2018