Aħdar ir-risposta

(diskors li għamilt illum is-Sibt 6 t’April 2019 f’egħluq Laqgħa Ġenerali Straordinarja li approvat il-kandidati u l-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika għall-elezzjonijiet ta’ Mejju 2019)

Il-Manifest Elettorali li għadna kif iddiskutejna u approvajna huwa mibni fuq erba’ argumenti: l-ugwaljanza, l-ekoloġija, is-saħħa u d-demokrazija. Hija r-rabta kontinwa li nfittxu bejn il-politika ambjentali u l-politika soċjali.

Kif ngħidu fil-Manifest li għadna kif approvajna, “Biex tkompli tinbena Ewropa b’saħħitha li tiddefendi liċ-ċittadin hemm bżonn li tissaħħaħ id-demokrazija. Id-demokrazija trid titħaddem dejjem iżjed fl-istituzzjonijiet kollha, b’mod li d-deċiżjonijiet kollha li jittieħdu mhux biss ikunu trasparenti imma fuq kollox jittieħdu minn persuni eletti u politikament kontabbli. Iċ-ċittadini għandu jkunilhom possibli li jinvolvu ruħhom direttament f’dan il-proċess demokratiku.

Għal dan l-iskop, anke l-lobbying għandu jkun trasparenti, b’regoli ċari li japplikaw għal kulħadd. (hu ta’ sodisfazzjoni li illum qrajna fil-gazzetti li l-Kummissarju tal-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika beda jaħdem dwar l-ewwel regoli dwar il-lobbying)

Għax mhux aċċettabbli f’soċjetà Demokratika li ma jkunx magħruf min qed jipprova jinfluwenza d-deċiżjonijiet, kif u għaliex.

Dan ma’ jgħoddx biss fl-Unjoni Ewropeja imma fuq kollox għandu jgħodd f’kull wieħed mill-istati membri.

Ir-rapporti ippubblikati dwar Malta mill-Kunsill tal-Ewropa, mill-Kummissjoni Venezja u il-GRECO (il-kumitat kontra l-korruzzjoni) lilna ma ssorpreduniex. Fihom ħafna affarijiet li mhux biss Alternattiva Demokratika ilha żmien titkellem dwarhom imma dwarhom ukoll għamilna proposti konkreti matul is-snin, inkluż fil-Manifesti Elettorali differenti.

Il-Gvern qed jipprova jiddefendi ruħu li l-kritika qed issir dwar liġijiet li saru żmien ilu li l-gvern tal-lum wiret mingħand il-gverijiet ta’qabel. Filwaqt li f’numru ta’ kazijiet dan hu minnu jibqa’ l-fatt li l-Gvern preżenti sabha komda li jibqa’ għaddej fuq dak li sab, għax hu komdu ħafna li meta tiġi dahrek mal-ħajt twaħħal f’ dawk li ġew qablek.

Ħu per eżempju l-poteri li għandu l-Prim Ministru u l-Ministru tal-Intern li jawtorizza l-intercettazzjoni tat-telekomunikazzjoni (tapping). Ma kellniex bżonn li l-GRECO jiġbdulna l-attenzjoni għaliha din. Ilna ngħiduha, kif għamilna anke fil-Manifest Elettorali tal-2017 ta’ AD. Kif jista’jkun li jibqa’ jkun il-politku li jiddeċiedi jekk jingħatax permess jew le biex isir it-tapping? Kif ser jiddeċiedi l-politiku meta jkun iffaċċjat b’talba biex ikunu investigati dawk ta’ madwaru? Dan mhux konflitt ta’ interess kbir? Hu għalhekk li ilna ngħidu li l-awtorità li jsir it-tapping għandha tingħata lill-ġudikatura li bla dubju tfittex li toqgħod attenta illi fil-ġlieda kontra l-kriminalità mhux biss titwarrab il-politika partiġjana u l-protezzjoni tal-ħbieb tal-politiku imma fuq kollox tassigura li jkun imħarsa d-drittijiet fundamentali.
Għidna ferm iktar minn hekk. Fl-2017 fil-Manifest Elettorali tkellimna ukoll fuq l-FIAU (Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit) fejn insistejna li m’għandiex tkompli tkun imexxija mill-AG (Avukat Ġenerali) u li r-rapporti tagħha m’għandhomx imorru għand il-Pulizija imma direttament għand il-Magistrat tal-Għassa. Irid ikun assigurat li r-rapporti tal-FIAU meta jaslu għand il-Pulizija ma jispiċċawx fil-bir tas-skieken imma li dawn ikunu investigati sewwa u li jittieħdu passi kull fejn jirriżulta meħtieġ.

Il-Kummissjoni Venezja u l-GRECO qalulna li istituzzjonijiet f’Malta għandna ħafna imma li dawn huwa dgħajfa. Qalu tajjeb, imma l-opinjoni pubblika f’Malta ilha konxja minn dan. Imma dan ġie injorat mill-Gvern immexxi mill-Partit Laburista. Il-PN min-naħa l-oħra, kellu jkun fl-Opposizzjoni biex jirrealizza dwar id-djgħufija tal-istituzzjonjijiet. Uħud minnhom ħoloqhom hu stess, iddiżinjati dgħajfa apposta, u dwar oħrajn sakemm inqeda għalaq għajnejh.

Huwa f’dan il-kuntest li ilna naħdmu għal dawn is-snin kollha.
Il-ħidma tagħna f’din il-kampanja elettorali b’differenza is-soltu mhiex limitat inkella iffukatan kważi esklussivament fuq il-Parlament Ewropew. Għall-ewwel darba qed niffaċċjaw l-elezzjonijiet tal-Kunsilli Lokali kollha fl-istess jum.

Ser nippreżentaw tal-inqas 9 kandidati, l-parti l-kbira minnhom żgħażagħ li qed jikkontestaw għall-ewwel darba fuq il-Mellieħa (Luke Caruana), Marsaskala (Daniel Desira), B’Kara (Anna Azzopardi), Naxxar (James Gabarretta), u Ħaż-Żebbuġ (Samwel Muscat). Għandna ukoll Irlandiż li jgħix Malta (Donal Kelly) li offra s-servizz tiegħu bħala kandidat fuq ix-Xgħajra u l-attivist ambjentali fil-Gżira (Jamie Mercieca). Ma dawn ngħodd ukoll lill-veteran tagħna fil-Kunsill Lokali ta’ H’Attard Ralph Cassar, li issa ilu jiġi elett għal snin twal – madwar għoxrin sena.

Grazzi lilkom ilkoll li qed toffru s-servizz tagħkom.

Ma dawn kollha, bħala partit iddeċidejna li għandi nikkontesta jiena ukoll fil-lokalità ta’ San Ġiljan. Għażilna din il-lokalità għax bħala partit irridu nagħtu kontribut dirett lir-residenti f’San Ġiljan li qed jiffaċċjaw problemi kbar. San Ġiljan hu fost dawk il-lokalitajiet li huma l-iktar milquta mill-iżvilupp bla rażan li bħalissa qed iħarbat il-ħajja ta’ kuljum ta’ bosta mill-Maltin.

Fiċ-ċentru tal-ħidma politika tagħna bħalissa hemm il-ħarsien tal-ambjent urban. Tul dawn il-ġimgħat dorna diversi lokalitajiet nitkellmu dwar il-kundizzjonijiet tat-toroq, dwar il-politika tat-trasport intenzjonata biex tkompli iżżid il-karozzi fit-toroq, dwar in-nuqqas ta’ aċċessibilità kif ukoll dwar it-teħid tal-ispazji pubbliċi, inkluż il-bankini, min-negozji għad-detriment tar-residenti.

F’diversi lokalitajiet, primarjament mal-kosta r-residenti ġew ridotti għal priġuniera f’darhom għax il-bankini okkupati minn imwejjed u siġġijiet li qed joħlqu diffikultajiet kbar kemm għall-aċċess tar-residenti għal djarhom kif ukoll għal servizzi bażiċi bħall-ġbir tal-iskart.

It-traskuraġni amministrattiva tul is-snin irrediet lokalità bħall-B’Kara bħala lokalità perikoluża kull meta jkollna maltempata. B’Kara għadha tiffaċċja l-għargħar kull meta jkun hawn ħalba xita, qawwija u mhux. Il-Gvernijiet repetutament fittxew li jindirizzaw l-effett u ftit li xejn saret ħidma dwar il-kawża ta’ dan kollu. Parti mhux żgħira mill-bini ta’ dan l-aħħar ħamisn sena fiħ nuqqas ta’ bjar (jew bjar ta’ qisien żgħar) bil-konsegwenza li f’kull ħalba xita miljuni ta’ litri ta’ ilma tax-xita jispiċċa fit-toroq ta’ B’Kara flok fil-bjar li suppost inbnew. Dan mhux biss hu ħtija ta’ nuqqas ta’ bjar f’B’Kara imma ukoll fil-lokalitajiet fil-madwar. F’dan is-sens B’Kara hi l-vittma ta’ amministrazzjoni pubblika inkompetenti li tul is-snin injorat ir-responsabbiltà li tara illi kull binja hi mgħammra b’bir ta’ daqs adegwat.

Hemm il-ħtieġa li nenfasizzaw iktar fuq il-ħtieġa li tkun implimentata mingħajr iktar dewmien l-istrateġija nazzjonali dwar it-trasport li teżiġi li jonqsu l-karozzi mit-toroq tagħna, primarjament għax m’għandniex bżonn din il-kwantità ta’ karozzi. Għandna bżonn investiment ikbar fit-trasport pubbliku, inkluż transport pubbliku reġjonali u lokali għax dan iservi biex inaqqas l-użu ta’ karozzi privati fit-toroq tagħna għal distanzi qosra. Irridu nirrealizzaw li 50% tal-vjaġġi li jsiru bil-karozzi privati fit-toroq Maltin isiru għal distanzi qosra li jdumu inqas minn 15-il minuta.

Fuq kollox hemm bżonn ta’ investiment ikbar fl-infrastruttura lokali, iffukata fuq il-ħtieġa li niffaċilitaw dejjem iktar l-aċċessibilità għal in jagħżel li jimxi inkella li jsuq ir-rota.

Il-kwalità tal-ambjent urban jirrifletti l-kwalità tal-ħajja tagħna. Jeffettwa l-arja tant essenzjali biex ngħixu. Jeffettwa l-ispazji pubbliċi tant essenzjali biex bħala l-pulmun tal-lokalitajiet tagħna jagħtuna in-nifs u l-ispazju fejn ngħixu.

Il-karozzi ħadulna t-toroq. In-negożji ħadulna l-bankini. Irriduhom lura. Dawn huma essenzjali għall-ħajja urbana. Huma l-ispazji pubbliċi bażiċi li flimkien mal-pjazez tagħna jimmarkaw lill-komunitajiet tagħna.

Neħtieġu toroq u bankini li jkunu aċċessibli għal kulħadd. Il-Kunsilli Lokali, għandhom ikunu fuq quddiem biex iħeġġu lill-gvern sabiex mis-€700 miljun li qed jipproġetta bħala nefqa biex jirranġa t-toroq, jitbiddlu ukoll il-bankini. Ħafna minnhom saru biex jaġevolaw il-karozzi fil-garaxxijiet bil-konsegwenza li diversi bankini spiċċaw tlajja u nżul kontinwi b’detriment għal min huwa vulnerabbli. Bl-istess mod, il-Kunsilli Lokali għandhom jaraw li l-bankini ikunu ħielsa minn ostakli li ħafna drabi iġiegħlu lir-residenti, partikolarment dawk l-iktar vulnerabbli jimxu fin-nofs tat-triq.

Għal kunsilliera f’isem Alternattiva Demokratika, din hija kwistjoni prijoritarja ta′ aċċessibilità għar-residenti kollha.

Irridu nsellmu lill-dawk il-kunsilliera kollha li tul is-snin ħarġu għonqhom b’konvinzjoni kbira biex inħarsu l-wirt storiku u l-wirt ekoliġiku ta’pajjiżna. Mhux xogħol faċli. Ħidma li f’Alternattiva Demokratika nagħmluha bla waqfien. Uħud mill-proġetti l-kbar li huma fuq l-aġenda tal-pajjiż għax-xhur u s-snin li ġejjin huma ta’ ħsara kbira. M’għandix f’moħħi biss il-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex li barra li mhiex meħtieġa ser tagħmel ħsara mhux biss lill-Għawdex fit-totalità tiegħu imma ukoll lill-agrikultura madwar in-Nadur f’ Ta’ Kenuna kif ukoll lill-Wied tal-Pwales u z-zona tal-Għerien fil-limiti tal-Mellieħa. Iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa ippreżentajna oġġezzjini għall-bini tat-torri tat-Toyota f’Ħaż-Żebbuġ li qed ifittex li joħloq mostru ta’ 14-il sular, 11 minnhom il-fuq mit-triq f’zona li ser ikollha impatti kbar fuq ir-residenti ta’ Ħaż-Żebbuġ.

Aħna qegħdin hawn biex inservu. Ilkoll.

Qed noffru mill-ġdid is-servizz tagħna fil-Parlament Ewropew u fil-Kunsilli Lokali. Hi ħidma li ser tkun imsejsa fuq il-valuri bażiċi li fuqhom hi mibnija l-ħidma ħadra: l-għarfien ekoloġiku, il-ġustizzja soċjali, id-demokrazija parteċipattiva, n-non-vjolenza, s-sostenibilità u r-rispett lejn id-diversità.

Qegħdin nippreżentaw Manifest li jiftaħ il-bibien u t-twieqi għal żiffa li tnaddaf, għal diskussjoni li tfittex risposti għall-mistoqsijiet u teżamina s-soluzzjonijiet possibli. Irridu b’mod kontinwu nisfidaw l-istatus quo u f’dan il-proċess inneħħu l-għanqbut li hemm f’diversi irkejjen mhux biss f’Malta imma ukoll fi Brussell.

Il-politika ħadra tfisser li ma tibża’ tiddiskuti xejn.

Jekk inti tfittex u tistaqsi kif il-kwalità tal-ħajja tagħna lkoll tista′ tkun aħjar, kif għandha tonqos u eventwalment tkun eliminata l-emarġinazzjoni, kif tissaħħaħ id-demokrazija, m’għandekx wisq minn fejn tagħżel.

Pajjiżna ma jistax jibqa’ b’rasu fir-ramel: għalhekk l-aħdar hu r-risposta għall-mistoqsijiet tiegħek.

Alternattiva Demokratika hi l-unika garanzija li leħen kulħadd jinstema’ .

 

Il-Manifest Elettorali issibu hawn

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Subsidiarity and loyalty

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The Prime Minister has a generational transformation in sight which he wants to bankroll with the monies generated by his sale of citizenship scheme. His supporters see traitors everywhere as they cannot stomach any form of criticism.

Does any EU member state have the right to introduce and implement a sale of citizenship scheme?  Government spokesmen have repeatedly stated that the Malta Government has been advised that it is in line with EU legislation. In line with the subsidiarity principle, nationality issues, we were told, are the sole and exclusive competence of EU member states.

No one is contesting that nationality issues are a national competence. In fact even Commissioner Viviene Reding made this amply clear. There is however much more to it than state competence. There is the duty to be loyal to the Union and other member states. Article 4.3 of the European Union Treaty explains this as the principle of sincere cooperation, also referred to as the loyalty principle: loyalty, that is, towards the other European Union member states.

Government has opted to milk citizenship in order to generate finance so as to be in a position to implement its electoral programme. It has excluded taxation as an option. Moreover it has reduced income tax as part of its electoral strategy in order to outwit the former government, knowing full well that this necessitated alternative financial avenues. Never did it place its plans to put citizenship on sale before the electorate for its consideration. Ethically the Labour Party cannot claim to have an electoral mandate on the matter.

The local political debate has revealed diametrically opposed positions. Government’s position is dictated by its strategy of requiring cash in order to finance its political initiatives. Time is of essence in its strategy. It cannot afford to wait for would-be investors to take initiatives of their choice. There is no direct link between the prospective citizen and the manner in which the monies he pays are “invested”. It is in fact an exercise of selling citizenship with a commitment to use the proceeds in a specific manner. The funds generated are hypothecated. A residential criterion has so far been ruled out, most probably,  as this would only serve as a delaying factor. It would delay the flow of the monies required depending on how long the residential criterion runs.

The warning shot fired by the EU Parliament is not to be discarded as the EU Parliament is the only democratically elected EU institution. Nor is Commissioner Reding’s statement  one that could be ignored. Reding has stated that:

While I am not calling for the Commission to receive legal power to determine what constitutes nationality or the rules granting it, the Commission nevertheless expects that Member States act in full awareness of the consequences of their decisions.

Our debate today shows the growing importance of these questions in a European Union where national decisions are in many instances not neutral vis-à-vis other Member States and the EU as a whole. It is a fact that the principle of sincere cooperation, which is inscribed in the EU Treaties (Article 4.3 of the Treaty on European Union), should lead Member States to take account of the impact of decisions in the field of nationality on other Member States and the Union as a whole.”

Clearly the competence of member states on issues of citizenship is not absolute. Given its impacts on all the other members of the Union in areas of national security, freedom of movement in the Schengen Area, rights to residence and employment, it stands to reason that both the EU as well as member states require consultation which apparently was not carried out.

The capping of the citizenship scheme at 1,800 passports for sale is certainly not enough. A residential condition of reasonable length is also  required as an additional and essential element. This would however be a sticking point as whilst it could render the proposed scheme less un-acceptable and in line with some of the practices elsewhere, it may fail to deliver what the Maltese Government requires on time.

It is with this in mind that the Greens in Malta have time and again called on Government to suspend the implementation of the scheme and concurrently to initiate a dialogue with Brussels. The problem at an EU level may eventually be resolved around the negotiating table. This would result in less reputational damage for Malta. A meeting called between the EU Commision and the Malta Government seems to be imminent. Hopefully matters will take a positive turn.

That would leave the political issue to be solved locally, either in Parliament or at the ballot box through a public consultation. The Prime Minister has already indicated that he is willing to submit the issue to a national consultation.  It is the decent way forward, part of our learning curve as a nation.

published in The Times of Malta, Saturday January 25, 2014

Environmental Governance

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Having over 70,000 vacant residential properties is a very serious matter which both the Nationalist and the Labour parties have ignored in their electoral manifestos. Rather than being ignored this fact ought to serve as the launching pad for a different way of looking at land use planning issues.

The Housing Authority in the past months has opted not to build new social housing units but instead decided to tap the stock of vacant dwellings held by the private sector. It was a very positive decision pushed forward by Minister Chris Said on taking up his Ministerial responsibilities early in 2012.

In its electoral manifesto Alternattiva Demokratika has listed a number of specific proposals which would go a long way to address the land use planning chaos which will be inherited by the government that takes office after the 9 March general elections.

As a first step Malta requires a moratorium on large scale residential development. The building industry cannot keep constructing flats and maisonettes in hundreds, adding to the stock of vacant dwellings. The number of vacant residential properties is equivalent to 9 times the size of the residential parts of B’Kara.

While the Malta Environment and Planning Authority has issued development permits, the State has, through our taxes, been paying up for the development of the infrastructure (roads, public sewer, water and electricity distribution networks………) which is underutilised. These funds could have been put to better use than to service vacant dwellings.

The boundaries of the development zone have to be rolled back. Those lands which, in August 2006, were included as land suitable for development as part of the so-called rationalisation exercise and have not yet been committed to development should return forthwith outside the development zone where they belong.

The construction industry, aided by a myopic MEPA, has made a havoc of our towns and villages through encouraging overdevelopment. In 2006, when the final decisions on most of the Local Plans were being considered,  the Government had access to the 2005 census results which determined the existence of 53,136 vacant dwellings. This was a substantial increase over the 17,413 vacant dwellings identified 10 years earlier as part of the 1995 census.

Publication of the 2011 census results on property is long overdue, but it is expected that the numbers this time will exceed the 70,000 mark substantially.

Faced with these numbers, a responsible government would never have proposed extending the development zones. The 2005 census result provided the evidence for their curtailment not for their extension. In addition to extending the development zones, the PN-led government increased the permissible building heights practically all over Malta, the end result being a further substantial increase in the number of vacant dwellings.

In addition, the height relaxation policy put in place in 2006 had another serious impact. It placed a number of dwellings in the shade of new buildings surrounding them, these being built in line with the new permissible heights. As a result, the residents in these dwellings cannot make use of solar energy. Not only the use of photovoltaic panels is out of the question but also their solar water heaters are in most cases no longer of any use!

Faced with this situation, it is political madness to propose considering the construction industry as an important and fundamental component of the economy, as the PL is proposing. The construction industry must shrink rather than expand. It must be assisted to manage its essential and unavoidable restructuring.

The construction industry can be directed towards three specific areas of activity: rehabilitation of old properties, road construction/maintenance and marine construction works. Each of these three areas of activity requires training in construction skills. Rehabilitation works require old building trades on the verge of disappearance. Roadworks, though improving in quality, still require a more skilled labourforce. We also need to take stock of our marine infrastructure which requires substantial improvement as well as regular maintenance.

The Government can assist the construction industry to change through providing training facilties for its labour force, thereby reducing the social impacts of change. Funds from the European Social Fund are available to assist in this exercise.

Land use planning should be subject to environmental governance rules. It is for this reason that AD considers it essential that rather then splitting up MEPA, the Government should go for a defragmentation, consolidating all environmental functions in one authority through the amalgamation of MEPA with the Resources Authority.

In such a consolidated authority, environmental considerations should be overriding and, in particular, land use planning should be put in its proper place: under the continuous supervision of a properly staffed Environment Directorate.

This is the basic change required in environmental governance. Placing the land use planning and the construction industry in their proper place and ensuring that environmental governance is defragmented.

published in The Times, Saturday 23rd February 2013

Għawdex Gżira ekoloġika

 

Ħadt pjaċir il-bieraħ fil-għaxija nieħu sehem fil-Forum għaċ-Ċittadin organizzat mill-uffiċċju tal-Parlament Ewropew f’Malta. Tkellmet Gisela Kallenbach Membru tal-Parlament Ewropew tal-European Greens. He tkellmet  dwar l-idea ta’ Għawdex bħala gżira ekoloġika.

 

Din hi idea li tkellmet dwarha għall-ewwel darba l-Alternattiva Demokratika u iktar tard il-Partit Nazzjonalista inkluda proposta dwar Għawdex bħala gżira ekoloġika fil-programm elettorali tiegħu għall-elezzjoni tal-2008.

 

L-ambjent m’hu monopolju ta’ ħadd u iktar ma jkun hemm min jaqbel u jaddotta ideat għal titjib ambjentali, tagħna u ta’ ħaddieħor, tant aħjar.

 

Il-kunċett ta’ gżira ekoloġika hu wieħed sempliċi. Li l-ħidma kollha li ssir fuq il-ġżira ta’ Għawdex tkun sostenibbli. Issa fir-realta dan ma jgħoddx għal Ghawdex biss, imma għal Malta ukoll !

 

Kallenbach emfasizzat fuq il-ħtieġa li jkun hemm ħidma integrata, jiġifieri li ma nippjanawx bil-biċċiet. Meta nippjanaw xi ħaġa nassiguraw ruħna li nkunu tajna każ u ħadna ħsieb tal-aspetti kollha tagħha.

 

L-attendenza għal dan il-forum kienet kkaratterizzat mill-presenza ta’ kwantita kbira ta’ residenti barranin.

 

Ħafna tkellmu dwar l-ilma, il-biedja organika, t-trasport sostenibbli, l-enerġija alternattiva u dwar bosta oqsma oħra fil-ħajja ta’ kuljum. Il-messaġġ bażiku kien wieħed dwar il-ħtieġa li nimxu fit-triq ta’ sostenibilita.

Dik il-bozza

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Fil-kampanja elettorali li għada kif intemmet, kemm il-manifest elettorali tal-Alternattiva Demokratika kif ukoll dak tal-Partit Nazzjonalista jitkellmu dwar l-għoti ta’ bozoz energy saving b’xejn.

Issa dawn il-proposti huma frott ta’ pika tajba. Huma motivati mill-idea li n-nies jiġu mħajra ma jaħlux. Għax il-bozza li ma taħlix tiswa iktar, għall-bidu biex jitħajru jew biex ma jitgerrxux nies saret il-proposta tal-għotja ta’ bozoz b’xejn. Hi proposta li saret ukoll u ġiet attwata f’pajjiżi oħra. Miżura żgħira li ftit tinvolvi spejjes imma kien hemm ukoll min ipprova jirredikolha.

Tfisser li taħli inqas elettriku (inqas surcharge) u allura tnaqqas l-impatti ambjentali li jeffettwaw lil kulħadd. Teffettwa lil butek, lill-kaxxa ta’ Malta u lis-saħħa ta’ kulħadd minħabba inqas emissjonijiet !

Imma hemm affarijiet oħra li m’huwiex ċar jekk humiex qed jiġu meqjusa bir-reqqa neċessarja. Il-bozoz energy savers fihom ammont żgħir ta’ merkurju. X’passi qed jittieħdu biex dawn il-bozoz, meta jagħmlu żmienhom ma jispiċċawx mal-bqija tal-iskart ? Jekk bozza tinkiser nafu li t-trab tal-merkurju li fihom jista’ jkun ta’ periklu ? Tajjeb li jkun hemm min jispjega ftit.

Għal iktar informazzjoni ara ftit dan l-artiklu ‘Shining a light on hazards of fluorescent bulbs

L-iskandlu tal-kirjiet ikkontrollati

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Il-bieraħ ħadt sehem f’konferenza stampa tal-AD dwar ir-riforma meħtieġa fil-liġijiet tal-kera. Riforma li iha fuq l-ixkaffa għal dawn l-aħħar 63 sena.

Il-liġijiet tal-kera kif inhuma jitfgħu l-piż fuq is-sidien tal-propjeta’. L-effett huwa li qed tingħata protezzjoni lil kull min jokkupa post b’titlu ta’ kera irrispettivament jekk għandux bżonn din il-protezzjoni jew le. Huwa fatt magħruf li fil-pajjiż hawn bosta sinjuruni li qed jokkupaw propjeta b’titlu ta’ kera u jħallsu kera miżerabbli għal dan l-iskop. Il-protezzjoni għandha tingħata lil min verament għandu bżonn biss. Għandu iżda jkun l-istat permezz tal-Awtorita’ tad-Djar li jagħti din il-protezzjoni. Is-sitwazzjoni attwali hi li huma s-sidein li qed jissussidjaw kemm il-housing soċjali kif ukoll ir-residenti ta’ xi sinjuruni permezz tal-kirjiet ikkontrollati.
 
Alternattiva Demokratika fil-Parlament bħala parti
minn Gvern ta’ koalizzjoni tassigura li jsiru l-emendi neċessarji għall-liġijiet tal-kera. Mhux biss biex tingħata l-għajnina lil min verament għandu bżonn iżda ukoll biex b’hekk ikun jista’ jerġa’ jinħoloq is-suq tal-kera u jkun possibli li jerġgħu jidħlu gradwalment fis-suq it-53,000 dar vojta. Fl-aħħar ikun possibli li jibda jonqos il-bini bla waqfien kif ukoll it-twaqqiegħ u l-bini mill-ġdid ta’ propjeta’ f’kull rokna ta’ Malta.
(ara stqarrija AD fuq http://www.alternattiva.org.mt/page.asp?n=newsdetails&i=11074 )

Manifest taż-Żgħażagħ AD

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Il-ġimgħa l-oħra ż-Żgħażagħ tal-Alternattiva Demokratika  ppubblikaw Manifest Politiku li jiġbor fih proposti għal azzjoni mifruxa fuq 40 paġna. Il-proposti tagħhom huma miġbura taħt tlett titli : l-ekonomija, l-politika soċjali u l-ekoloġija.

Il-Manifest sħih jista’ jinqara b’mod elettroniku :

http://www.alternattiva.org.mt/filebank/documents/ADZ%20Youth%20Manifesto%202008.pdf.

 

Dan il-Manifest jirrifletti fuq kif iż-Żagħżagħ f’Malta qed jiffaċċaw il-futur u jidentifika l-proposti ta’ azzjoni meħtieġa biex il-politika tkun ta’ katalist : tgħin liż-żagħżagħ iwettqu  l-ħolma tagħhom.

B’sodisfazzjoni osservajt li l-Manifest taż-Żgħażagħ AD jirnexxielu jinseġ flimkien il-poltika soċjali u ambjentali u b’hekk iwassal messaġġ importanti li l-politika ambjentali hi għodda utli għat-twettiq ta’ gustizzja soċjali ukoll .  

The Case For Coalition Government

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George Borg Olivier & Sir Paul Boffa formed the last Coalition Government in Malta in the early 50s.

(originally published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 3 February 2008)

by Dr. ISABELLE CALLEJA

Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Malta.

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s article entitled Settle Down and Read this Please focused on a number of issues. However, I wish to address what I believe to be the central argument of the piece. This is her advice to “the chattering classes”, and by this invective I presume she is referring to those floating voters who normally determine the outcome of an election, of the uselessness of voting for a minority party. She believes that our present institutional set-up ultimately renders this act null and void. In her own words: “It’s pointless debating the fairness or otherwise of the situation at this stage; we have to work within the parameters now, and perhaps scream and shout about it later”

In effect, what Daphne is referring to is the present Maltese electoral system, which does not promote the election of small parties. In European countries, to further consensus and ensure democratic behaviour, minority interests and their representation in parliament are encouraged. This is ensured through an electoral device known as a threshold. In certain states, parties that obtain as little as 1.5 per cent of the vote nationally are awarded representation in parliament. The norm however is 5 per cent. This medium is chosen in order to fulfil the two requirements of governance: fair representation and efficiency. In other words, minority parties can more easily contribute to government, while not disrupting its flow by encouraging a fragmentation of interests and the collapse of the legislature.

These structures have ensured that numerous interests are represented in the parliaments of European states. Indeed, today Malta is the only European country where only two political parties are represented in parliament, thus excluding the smaller parties and minority interests. On the continent, the smaller parties play an important role in the political process. They represent and further interests that have been excluded, forgotten or neglected by the major parties. They introduce new issues to the body politic. They also allow a multiplicity of interests to be represented in parliament, thus ensuring a politics of inclusion rather than exclusion. Most importantly, they also ensure that new divisions that occur within the political mainframe are neutralised by according them representation. Thus it has been shown that far right parties with a racist agenda are more ready to compromise when included in the system, and more easily radicalised once excluded.

Small parties, in other words, are an essential prerequisite in the smooth running of a modern democratic state. In Malta, however, despite the numerous discussions and consequent changes to our electoral laws, the threshold common in other democratic states has not been incorporated. The 2007 amendments to electoral law were said to have been incorporated in order to ensure increased proportionality. However, the reality is that the changes were made to service the needs of the two major parties, for our party system is presently categorised, in political terms, as a frozen party system, in that since 1966 it has consisted of only two parties that have persisted in resisting change. Indeed these parties may be characterised as dinosaur parties: parties within a system that are characterised by their longevity, durability and entrenchment, parties that are also able to access and monopolise institutional resources to their benefit, and to the detriment of the political system at large.

This scenario escalates in today’s political climate where, due to globalisation, the parties are constrained in their economic and social policies by the free market, by the independence of central banks and by the emasculation of regulatory policies that are now determined by a higher level of government. The result is parties of government denuded of ideology that act as corporate players rather than political ideologues. Their resources now being largely provided by the corporate world also means that they need rely far less on their grass roots electorate. These parties, known as “cartel parties”, have little to differentiate them from each other and more easily work together to maintain their monopoly through the status quo.

In Europe, what has halted this process is multi-party government or, as it is better known, coalition government. The politics of coalition lie at the heart of government, and in Western Europe roughly three-quarters of all governments formed in the post-war era have been composed of multiple political parties. Indeed, nearly all states have been governed by a coalition at some time or other, because even two-party systems are potential coalition systems, as is evinced by the possibility of a split in the party, and the rise of new parties.

The notion of a coalition government, however, has frequently been discredited, viewed as unstable, short-lived and unable to provide the executive with the support needed to govern. Locally, we look at our nearest neighbour, Italy, as providing evidence of this reality. At the other end of the spectrum, however, we have Germany – in the last 50 years a fine example of a supremely stable democracy, which has been constantly governed under a coalition. For ultimately, a coalition can be more stable than a minority government, or even a one-seat majority – as has been demonstrated locally. It must be remembered that ultimately, like all governments, the partners in a coalition usually prefer to keep that coalition working, instead of splitting and risking the loss of their government power. It is only in exceptional circumstances that a partner abandons a coalition, often when they fear that their core beliefs are being compromised.

For truth to tell, coalitions, though they require finesse to maintain, provide the political system with a mechanism of governance that is in many ways beneficial. Its immediate advantage is of incorporating diverse interests and ensuring that it is not the same one or two parties that dominate the political space and, by extension, access to resources. However, its usefulness goes much further. Maintaining a coalition implies greater respect for the niceties of democracy. Coalitions require that the tools and philosophy of liberal democracies are used and adhered to and that the underlying conflict in any state is resolved through compromise and consensus on a daily basis.

For coalitions have their own equilibrium. This ensures, that from the parties with the largest number of votes, it is the party that occupies the centre of the spectrum that is mostly likely to lead a coalition, making consensus far more possible. This also reinforces the generally held view, that coalition governments have a higher degree of perceived legitimacy, for consensus-building politics also better reflects public opinion. This is demonstrated by the growing importance of parliamentary debate in these states, because one of the central challenges facing multi-party governments in parliamentary democracies is the need for coalition parties to communicate to their constituents that they have not strayed significantly from their electoral commitments when agreeing to policy compromises. These parties normally attempt to “make their case” to constituents through their behaviour in legislative debate. Debate here provides a unique opportunity – tied directly to the policy the government is implementing – to declare party positions on the coalition compromise. This is also tied to the fact that coalitions distribute power rather than centralise it, therefore power is more shared among the partners of an executive.

Nor is it necessarily true, as is often argued, that this power sharing inherently weakens the political efficiency of the government, as is illustrated by the competent performance of the Nordic states, which are constantly ruled by coalition governments. This is because a coalition government has a wider background than a one-party government, which it can use to its advantage. In this case, its effectiveness may actually increase, surpassing that of a one-party government. Indeed, one-party governments may have their own troubles, as a consequence of competition between leading politicians or factions in the government party, which may in turn reduce their own efficiency.

Coalition parties undoubtedly are often more practiced at managing one of the most delicate problems of participating in government – reconciling the tension between the need to compromise on policy and the need to maintain the party’s public profile with respect to certain policy commitments. For coalitions also provide the parties of government with some room for manoeuvre in dealing with their more conservative recalcitrant elements, or ultra liberals, while providing them with a valid reason for adopting policies that may not always be popular with their grass roots electorate. Ultimately, however, coalitions are constant sum games. Like any other type of democratic government, they can succeed or fail. Some parties may split under the experience, others may grow stronger. Coalitions may further certain policies and constrain others. Some parties and political systems are more attuned to the politics of coalition than others. Having said this, it has been shown that the legislative behaviour of European parties in coalitions is disciplined and the majority of coalitions survive their term of office.

Could this arguably also be the case for Malta? The island had two cases of coalition government in the 1950s that did not prove very successful. However, the underlying conditions also need to be considered. In the first place, an external actor, the British, also impacted on the policy process, often derailing it. Indeed, this also happened under one-party government. In the second place, coalition government needs a certain level of competence and expertise, rarely found in newly democratising states, where one-party government is recommended. In 2008, however, I believe that the state of Malta and its governing institutions have reached a certain level of maturity and, indeed, could claim to be a consolidated democracy. This, one may plausibly argue, will produce the mature and responsible actors required to conduct the sophisticated game of understanding, bargaining, and compromise necessary in coalition government, and the institutional mechanisms necessary to play this game – that is the establishment of disciplined mechanisms for decision-making and conflict resolution.

Our present party structures also make coalition government a feasible enterprise. Three parties in parliament, leading to what is know as a system of pivotality, is seen as an optimal formula to support coalition government. This system in Germany, known as the two-and-a-half party system, has resulted in a strong executive and governments of longevity. In this scenario. the smaller party plays a pivotal role in sustaining, diversifying, and legitimising government policies. Undoubtedly, at the coalition stage, this party does have power that exceeds its status. However, once the bargaining phase is over, the larger party reasserts its dominance. Indeed, the smaller party must then struggle to retain its stance on policy and may suffer electoral decline as a consequence.

The reality in Malta, however, is that a fear of competition, of a multi-party system and of coalitions has retarded and constrained our political forum. Further development and democratisation proves impossible as long as a plurality of interests remains absent from parliament. Indeed, this becomes all the more urgent as Maltese society becomes more multi-faceted, with diverging views and different visions of the state that must be respected and incorporated in order to reinforce the social contract. This impoverishment of our political system is seen everywhere, but I will limit myself to two cases.

The first one is that of parliament that has increasingly become a rubber stamp for government, with poor attendance records and often low levels of parliamentary debate. The outcome of a parliamentary vote is foreseen and indeed discussion, let alone the passing of a private member bill, is an unknown phenomenon. The presence of more parties in parliament, and indeed of a coalition government, would rehabilitate the status of parliament. Parties will use this forum to explain to their electorate changes in policy, essential for small parties made to deviate from their programme. Under coalitions, legislation going through parliament is also often altered quite drastically to reflect divergent views on the policy area. The second example is that of the departure of our human resources, a situation we cannot afford on the island. If our institutions do not allow the participation of a multiplicity of views, views that enrich the body politic, then those who hold them will flee. Deprived of the opportunity to serve the state, they must seek this honour elsewhere, where they are more appreciated. The state of Malta is left all the poorer and we, the citizens, are the losers in such a short-sighted policy. One such case is that of Arnold Cassola.

A third party in parliament will provide resources to the party system as yet absent. It may provide a minority government with the opportunity to govern. It may provide to a government with a one-seat majority the possibility to survive in the event of a defection. It may provide a government with a slim majority a more comfortable and workable majority. It may provide a party of government with greater legitimacy, a wider vision and additional resources. Above all, it will ensure a government that truly reflects the wishes and will of the people, for parties and governments forget all too often that they govern to serve the people!

Let me conclude by referring once again to Daphne’s article, and beg to differ with her advice to the “the chattering people” that: “It’s pointless debating the fairness or otherwise of the situation at this stage; we have to work within the parameters now, and perhaps scream and shout about it later.” Politicians have one aim above all others, and that is to govern. Parties that profit from a system are loath to change it, and this has been well illustrated by the recent electoral changes. When this situation occurs, than change must come from outside, it must come from the people. This, I assure you, is feasible. I would be loath to tell anyone how to vote – that is not my job and I leave it to the politicians. However, I must add that statistically it is very possible for AD to win one seat on first count votes. As Daphne very accurately indicated, it is in the 9th and 10th districts where most AD voters are found and they are therefore spatially contained. In this scenario, 3,500 first-count votes is a viable and realistic undertaking.

Demokrazija fl-Ippjanar

gozo-qala-hondoq-ir-rummien2.jpgHondoq ir-Rummien

Fil-Manifest ghall-Koalizzjoni l-AD qed tipproponi li progetti li dwarhom isir EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) ikunu soggetti ghal referendum lokali.

Dan ikun jista’ jissejjah mir-residenti (10%) jew mill-Kunsill Lokali taghhom. Fejn progett ikun f’iktar minn lokalita’ wahda ikunu r-residenti w il-Kunsilli Lokali tal-lokalitajiet kollha direttament effettwati li jkunu jistghu jsejhu r-referendum lokali.

Id-decizjoni tar-referendum lokali jkun jorbot.

Dan ifisser illi wara li l-MEPA tigbor l-informazzjoni kollha u tassigura li l-process tekniku tal-pjanti u l-istudji jkun konkluz, tpoggi l-proposta ghall-konsiderazzjoni tal-pubbliku.

Jekk jintalab referedum fiz-zmien li jkun stabilit dan isir a spejjes tal-izviluppatur. Jekk il-progett ikun wiehed tal-Gvern ikun il-Gvern li jhallas.

Id-decizjoni tar-residenti tkun torbot.

Dan ikun ifisser li f’kaz bhal, per ezempju dak ta’ Hondoq ir-Rummien fil-Qala Ghawdex, fejn il-Kunsill Lokali organizza referendum li fih ir-residenti tal-Qala qalu le, il-progett propost ma jsirx.

L-istess ghandu jsir fil-kaz tal-Yacht Marina proposta f’Marsaskala. Hu inutli f’dan l-istadju li noqghodu nghidu favur jew kontra ghax dak li hu propost ghadu m’hux maghruf. Huwa wara li jkun maghrufa u li jsiru l-istudji necessarji li jkunu accessibli ghall-pubbliku li nkunu nistghu nikkummentaw.

B’hekk lehnek jinstema. Tkun inti li tiddeciedi. Dritt li dawk li joqghdu hdejn Pender Place San Giljan, jew hdejn il-Mistra Village fix-Xemxija San Pawl il-Bahar ma kellhomx.   

Hatra fil-MEPA u l-Uzura

Ahbar fil-Malta Independent tal-lum 7 ta’ Frar 2008 tista’ tinftiehem li hi kaz iehor tal-problema  socjali tal-uzura fil-pajjiz.

Il-persuna in kwistjoni kellha twiegeb fil-Qorti dwar kambjali ghall-ammont ta’ aktar minn zewg miljun lira !

Il-problema izda hi ferm ikbar minn hekk. Din il-persuna kienet wiehed mill-membri indipendenti tal-Bord tal-MEPA sakemm kien sfurzat jirrezenja wara li l-gazzetta Malta Today ippubblikat sensiela ta’ stejjer dwar djun kbar li kellu fl-2005.

Il-mistoqsija li hafna staqsew dakinnhar u probabilment qed jistaqsu iktar illum hi : kif inhu possibli illi dawn l-affarijiet jigru ? Min hatru ma kienx jaf b’dawn l-affarijiet ? Jew ma kienx jimpurtah ? Min ser jerfa’ ir-responsabbilta politika ghal hatra rresponsabbli bhal din ? 

Din l-ahbar tiggustifika, jekk qatt kien hemm htiega ta’ gustifikazzjoni, illi l-Ministri m’ghandhomx ikollhom l-ahhar kelma fil-hatra ta’ Bordijiet ta’ importanza nazzjonali. Tiggustifika jekk qatt kien hemm bzonn il-proposta tal-Alternattiva Demokratika fil-Manifest ta’ Koalizzjoni illi hatriet ta’ din ix-xorta ghandhom isiru minn Kumitat Parlamentari u dan wara smiegh pubbliku.

Il-lealta tal-membri ta’ dan it-tip ta’ Bordijiet ghandha tkun lejn il-Parlament bhala rapprezentant tal-poplu u mhux lejn il-Ministru. Jekk tkun lealta lejn il-Ministru li jahtru jista’ jibqa’ jkollha iktar frejjeg bhal dawn.   

Min mill-Partiti l-ohra ghandu l-kuragg li jammetti li l-Alternattiva Demokratika ghandha ragun ?

Nistennew u naraw.