Is-sussidjarjetà fil-Kostituzzjoni

 

Nhar il-Ġimgħa delegazzjoni ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika iltaqgħet ma’ Silvio Parnis, Segretarju Parlamentari għall-Gvern Lokali, biex miegħu niddiskutu l-White Paper ippubblikata mill-Gvern dwar ir-riforma tal-kunsilli lokali.

Waqt id-diskussjoni għaddejna lil Silvio Parnis l-ideat tagħna dwar din il-White Paper. Għamilna tmien proposti b’dik ewlenija tiffoka dwar il-ħtieġa li jkun aċċettat u implimentat il-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà. Il-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà jeħtieġ li jifforma parti mill-kostituzzjoni biex iservi ta’ linja gwida għall-amminstrazzjoni pubblika tal-pajjiż u allura jħares b’qawwa l-ħidma tal-Gvern lokali u reġjonali.

It-trattati Ewropej diġa għamlu dan il-pass meta addottaw il-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà bħala prinċipju bażiku li jirregola r-relazzjonijiet kumplessi bejn l-istituzzjonijiet Ewropej u l-istati membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja.

Il-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà hu l-iktar żviluppat fl-istati hekk imsejħa Ġermaniċi tal-Ewropa u ċjoè l-Ġermanja, l-Awstrija u l-Iżvizzera, liema pajjiżi għandhom qafas ta’ Gvern lokali u reġjonali b’saħħtu u bħala riżultat ta’ dan ir-responsabbiltajiet u l-poteri huma mifruxa.

L-amministrazzjoni pubblika teħtieġ li tkun l-iktar viċin possibli taċ-ċittadin: min jamministra u jiddeċiedi għandu jkun l-iktar qrib possibli ta’ min hu effettwat mid-deċiżjonijiet. L-eċċezzjonijiet għandhom ikunu rari u altru milli ġustifikati. Jacques Delors, li kien President tal-Kummissjoni Ewropeja, hu ikkwota li qal li : is-sussidjarjetà ma tillimitax biss l-intervent ta’ l-ogħla awtorità f’dak li kull persuna jew komunità tista’ tiddeċiedi hi innifisha, imma hi ukoll dover ta’ din l-istess awtorità biex taġixxi b’mod li lil din il-persuna jew komunità tgħinhom biex iwettqu l-ħolm tagħhom.”

Dan jitfa dawl fuq żewġ aspetti tas-sussidjarjetà. L-ewwel li ħlief f’każijiet eċċezzjonali l-ogħla awtorità ma jindaħalx fejn ma jesgħahiex fil-ħidma ta’ awtoritajiet oħra taħtha. It-tieni : l-obbligu li tgħin biex tinkoraġixxi l-kisba tal-awtonomija.

Alternattiva Demokratika qed tipproponi li l-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà jkun aċċettat bħala prinċipju kostituzzjonali li jagħti gwida lill-amministrazzjoni pubblika u dan bħala l-ewwel pass għat-twettieq ta’ proposta radikali oħra: id-diċentralizzazzjoni tal-ħidma operattiva tal-amministrazzjoni pubblika lill-awtoritajiet lokali u reġjonali, bil-Gvern iżomm f’idejh il-funzjonijiet regolatorji. Dan jista’ faċilment jitwettaq fuq il-mudell ta’ Għawdex bid-differenza li jitmexxew minn politiku reġjonali flok minn politiku nazzjonali.

Id-dokument bil-proposti ppubblikat minn Alternattiva Demokratika jittratta diversi temi oħrajn bħalissa ċentrali fid-dibattitu dwar ir-riforma proposta tal-gvern lokali u reġjonali.

Is-servizz ta’ kull kunsillier lokali għandu jkun apprezzat, mhux biss is-servizz li jagħti s-Sindku! Il-proposta li l-uffiċċju tas-Sindku jkun wieħed full-time ma hemmx ħtieġa tagħha. Hemm diversi raġunijiet għal dan. Bħala riżultat ta’ din il-proposta dawk kollha li ma jistgħux jieqfu mill-impieg normali tagħhom ikunu esklużi milli joffru s-servizz tagħhom fil-kariga ta’ Sindku. Dan billi tali proposta teffettwa b’mod qawwi l-possibilità li huma jirrintegraw ruħhom fl-impieg meta jintemmilhom il-perjodu tal-ħatra tagħhom. Bla dubju jinħolqu ukoll kunflitti bla bżonn mas-Segretarju Eżekuttiv li l-liġi illum tikkunsidrah bħala l-uffiċjal amministrattiv ewlieni tal-kunsill lokali.

Flok ma tiffoka fuq is-Sindku r-riforma għandha tinkoraġixxi iktar il-ħidma kolleġjali fil-lokalitajiet tagħna b’mod li twassal għal sehem iktar attiv ta’ kull kunsillier fit-tmexxija tal-lokalitajiet. Il-proposta li qed jagħmel il-Gvern li kull kunsillier jingħata responsabbiltajiet hi tajba. Saret diġa minn Alternattiva Demokratika fil-konsultazzjoni pubblika dwar il-kunsilli lokali li saret fl-2008. Waħedha imma mhiex biżżejjed. Trid tkun segwita minn pass ieħor: li kull kunsillier jingħata onorarju raġjonevoli. Din m’għandiex tkun materja riżervata għas-Sindku.

Il-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà għandu japplika ukoll biex materji ambjentali jkunu regolati minn dawk li l-iktar jeffettwawhom mill-viċin. Li jkunu nvoluti sewwa l-kunsilli lokali u reġjonali f’dawn id-deċiżjonijiet għandu jwassal għal deċiżjonijiet aħjar minn dawk li għandna illum. Imma dwar dan, darb’oħra.

Il-konsultazzjoni pubblika dwar ir-riforma tal-gvern lokali u reġjonali issa ġiet fit-tmiem. Nistennew il-posizzjoni li ser jieħu l-Gvern dwar in-numru mhux żgħir ta’ proposti li saru. Nittama li jittieħdu bis-serjetà.

ippubblikat fuq Illum : 2 ta’ Diċembru 2018

Subsidiarity in the Constitution

 

On Friday, a delegation from Alternattiva Demokratika met Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government Silvio Parnis to discuss the White Paper published by the government concerning the reform of local government.

During the discussion, we handed Mr Silvio Parnis our response to the White Paper, a response that contains eight proposals – the central one focusing on the need to accept and implement the principle of subsidiarity. The principle of subsidiarity needs to be constitutionally entrenched in order to serve as a guiding light to the country’s public administration and, consequently, protect local and regional government.

The European treaties have already entrenched the principle of subsidiarity as a basic tenet, regulating the complex relationship between European institutions and EU member states.

The principle of subsidiarity, mostly developed in the so-called Germanic states in Europe- namely Germany, Austria and Switzerland – which states have a robust local and regional arrangement, as a result of which responsibilities and the corresponding authority is spread.

Public administration should be as close to the citizen as possible: those administering and making decisions should be as close as possible to those who feel the impact of such decisions. Departure from this basic rule should only occur for reasons of absolute necessity. Former President of the European Commission Jacques Delors is quoted as having stated that subsidiarity is not only a limit on the intervention of a higher authority in the affairs of a person or community that can act itself, it is also a duty of this authority to act in relation to that person or community in such a way as to give it the means to fulfil itself.

This brings to the fore two aspects of subsidiarity. Firstly, that of non-interference by the higher authority in the workings of the lower authority, except in exceptional cases and, secondly, the duty to help – that is help that encourages autonomy.

Alternattiva Demokratika is proposing that the principle of subsidiarity be accepted as a guiding constitutional principle for the public administration as a first step to implementing another radical proposal: the decentralisation of the operational functions of public administration to the regions and local authorities with government retaining the regulatory functions. This can be easily carried out on the Gozo model, although with a regional elected politician replacing the current national politician in charge.

The document published by Alternattiva Demokratika deals with various other matters currently being debated as part of the proposed local and regional government reform.

The service of all elected local councillors should be appreciated, not just that rendered by the Mayor! The proposal to transform the office of Mayor in our localities into a full-time role is uncalled for and a number of reasons come to mind. It would automatically exclude all those who cannot take a sabbatical from their employment as it would have a long-term negative effect on their ability to adequately reintegrate when their mayoral term of office comes to an end. It would also create unnecessary conflict with the Executive Secretary, currently defined by the Local Council legislation as the chief executive of Local Councils.

Instead of singling out the Mayor, the local council reform should encourage a more collegial leadership, with all councillors being more actively involved in the running of the localities. The proposal in the White Paper to codify the duty to assign responsibilities to each elected councillor – a proposal first made by Alternattiva Demokratika and highlighted during the public consultation of 2008 on local council reform, is a good first step. It has to be followed by ensuring that all councillors receive a reasonable honorarium: this should not be a reserved for the Mayor alone.

The principle of subsidiarity should also be applied to regulating environmental issues closer to base. Involving regional and local councils in these decisions could lead to much better decisions than those we currently face. But more about that next time.

The public consultation has now been concluded. We await the reaction of the government to the large number of proposals made. Hopefully, these proposals will be seriously considered.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 2 December 2018

Tax avoidance: does Malta play a role?

basf-malta

On 30 August, the European Union, through Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, ordered Apple Corporation to pay €13 billion in unpaid taxes to the Irish state.  The EU ruling considered that the special tax treatment of Apple, whose tax bill was substantially reduced, amounted to unlawful state aid.

In November 2014, through Luxleaks, we learnt of tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg and elsewhere, as a result of which billions of euros in tax were being avoided by multinational corporations.

The EU has subsequently launched various investigations into the favourable tax treatment which Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Belgium have granted to various multinationals.

As a contribution to the on-going debate on tax avoidance in the EU, the Green Group in the European Parliament has recently published a study on the tax avoidance strategies adopted by the industrial giant BASF, the largest chemical company in the world.

Founded in 1865, BASF has its headquarters in Ludwigshafen, Germany, from where it manages a €70.4 billion turnover with production sites in 80 countries.

Malta features in this report together with Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Over the years, BASF has 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.

Chapter VIII of the report, published by the Green Group in the European Parliament, deals with Malta. It refers to the existence of a BASF subsidiary in Malta which held €5.07 billion in assets. These assets where transferred to a new German subsidiary, BASF Finance Malta GMBH, which was managed from an office in St Julian’s, thereby creating the eligibility for preferential tax treatment which could amount to as much as a refund of six-sevenths of all tax payable in Malta.

All this is a clearly planned movement of profits through generous loopholes as a way of avoiding most of, if not all, of the taxation which would be due under normal circumstances.

This abuse of the differences in national tax systems needs to be addressed urgently. As rightly stated by Malta’s Finance Minister Edward Scicluna at a Luxembourg ECOFIN meeting last September, the way forward lies in coordination at an EU level and not in the harmonisation of the national taxation systems, as some EU member states are insisting.

Tax competition has a role to play as an important tool that small and peripheral countries in the EU have at their disposal. No one should expect these countries to throw away the small advantage they have, but it should be clear that this should be used responsibly and in no way should it buttress the urge of multinationals to circumvent the national taxation system where their profits are generated.

Profits should be taxed where they are actually generated and not elsewhere. The EU needs to end – once and for all – not only tax evasion but also tax avoidance resulting from loopholes in national tax rules. For this to happen, the member states must not only be vigilant, but must also refrain from encouraging tax avoidance through the creation of more loopholes.

Tackling tax evasion and tax avoidance seriously will mean that taxes are paid where they are due, thereby funding the services and infrastructure that is required in a modern, civilised society. This can only happen if more companies pay their dues. Tax competition need not be a race to the bottom.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 4 December 2016

Wara r-Referendum fir-Renju Unit

Johnson Boris + Cameron David

 

It-tmexxija tal-Unjoni Ewropeja ddikjarat li wara r-riżultat tar-referendum ikun jaqbel għal kulħadd li r-Renju Unit idabbar rasu malajr kemm jista’ jkun. Għaldaqstant qed issir insistenza biex jibda minnufih il-proċess tat-tluq skond il-proċeduri kif stabilit fl-artiklu 50 tat-trattati tal-Unjoni.

Imma r-Renju Unit m’jidhirx li għandu għaġġla. Anke għax hemm min qed jirrealizza li l-ħsara li ser isseħħ hi kbira wisq u allura qed jerġa’ jibdielu. Ironikament, il-maġġoranza tal-Membri Parlamentari ma jaqblux li r-Renju Unit ma jibqax membru tal-Unjoni Ewropeja!

Meta David Cameron nhar il-Ġimgħa fil-għodu ħabbar ir-riżenja tiegħu minn Prim Ministru tar-Renju Unit, huwa qal li l-proċess tan-negożjati għat-tluq mill-Unjoni Ewropeja ser iħallih għas-suċċessur tiegħu. Dan jista’ jkun Boris Johnson, sa ftit ilu Sindku ta’ Londra, imma jista’ jkun ħaddieħor ukoll bħal Theresa May presentment Segretarju tal-Istat għall-Intern fil-Kabinett immexxi minn David Cameron. Dan ifissser li tal-inqas baqa’ tlett xhur, imma ma hemm l-ebda garanzija li f’għeluq dawn it-tlett xhur dan il-proċess ser jibda. Dan minħabba li l-politika u l-istrateġija tat-tmexxija l-ġdida għad mhiex magħrufa, dejjem jekk din teżisti.

Fil-fatt, Boris Johnson diġa iddikjara li m’hemmx għaġġla biex ir-Renju Unit jitlaq mill-Unjoni Ewropeja. X’għandu f’moħħu mhux magħruf imma minn dak li ntqal waqt il-kampanja referendarja ma jidhirx li s’issa hemm xi pjan dwar kif jista’ jseħħ it-tluq tar-Renju Unit mill-Unjoni Ewropeja. Minn dak li nkiteb fil-gazzetti Ingliżi jidher li għandu mnejn issir emfasi fuq negozjati informali u dan biex ikun evitat li jibda jgħodd il-limitu ta’ sentejn li jistabilixxu t-trattati Ewropej, liema limitu jibda jgħodd minn meta tingħata n-notifika skond l-artiklu 50. Imma fl-Unjoni Ewropeja ma hemmx qbil ma dan. Sadanittant hemm petizzjoni għaddejja online li sal-ħin li qiegħed nikteb kisbet l-appoġġ ta’ madwar tlett miljun persuna. Din il-petizzjoni qed titlob li r-referendum isir mill-ġdid. Il-Parlament ser jiddiskuti din il-petizzjoni.

Fl-istess ħin hemm reazzjonijiet qawwija mill-Iskozja, l-Irlanda ta’ Fuq u minn Ġibiltà għar-riżultat referendarju. Fit-tlett każi dawn huma favur il-kontinwazzjoni tas-sħubija. Fil-kaz ta’ Ġibiltà hemm ukoll il-kumplikazzjoni tal-possibilità tal-egħluq tal-fruntiera minn Spanja (kif ġieli ġara fil-passat) liema egħluq teffettwa lil madwar 12,000 resident li kuljum imorru Spanja għax xogħol. Il-possibilità ta’ kontrolli mal-fruntiera bejn l-Irlanda ta’ Fuq u r-Repubblika Irlandiża l-anqas ma hu ta’ awgurju tajjeb.

Id-dewmien biex jibdew it-trattattivi għat-tluq ifisser iktar inċertezza għas-swieq finanzjarji, li minnha jbati kulħadd. Inkluż l-ekonomija globali.

Jekk inħarsu lejn kif żviluppaw ir-relazzjonijiet bejn pajjiżi bħall-Isvizzera u n-Norveġja mal-Unjoni Ewropeja insibu li dawn japplikaw partijiet sostanzjali mill-leġislazzjoni tal-Unjoni Ewropeja, inkluż il-moviment ħieles tal-persuni u r-regoli tas-suq wieħed. Dan apparti kontribuzzjoni finanzjarja sostanzjali lill-Unjoni bħala ħlas għall-aċċess għas-suq Ewropew. Dawn kollha affarijiet li Boris Johnson u l-kampanja favur it-tluq tar-Renju Unit mill-Unjoni tkellmu kontra tagħhom waqt il-kampanja referendarja.

X’ser jagħmlu issa? Kollox hu possibli. Imma jekk il-mudell Svizzeru u Norveġiż ikun skartat huwa diffiċli ħafna biex wieħed jifhem x’ser jiġri. Tajjeb li niftakru li meta riċentement l-Isvizzera approvat referendum kontra l-prinċipju tal-moviment ħieles tal-persuni qamu l-irwiefen kollha. Għax il-prinċipju tal-moviment ħieles tal-persuni huwa bażiku għall-Unjoni.

Jidher ċar li quddiemna għandna ġimgħat ta’ spekulazzjoni li ma huma ser jagħmlu ġid lil ħadd. La lir-Renju Unit u l-anqas lill-Unjoni Ewropeja. L-anqas m’hu ser tagħmel ġid il-gwerra ċivili fil-partiti ewlenin Ingliżi. Il-battalja għat-tmexxija tal-Partit Konservattiv ser tkun qalila. Imma issa reġgħet tfaċċat il-gwerra ċivili fil-Partit Laburista Ingliż ukoll bir-riżenji mix-Shadow Cabinet u mozzjoni ta’ sfiduċja fit-tmexxija.

Ser ikunu ġimgħat ta’ tibdil kbir.

Alternanza tal-poter u tal-ħmieg

Same Shit

 

Waqt il-manifestazzjoni tas-soċjetà ċivili, iktar kmieni illum, uħud ħadu għalihom bil-poster tal-Moviment Graffiti : Same Shit, Different Government.

Alternanza tal-poter bejn PN u PL twassal ukoll l-alternanza tal-ħmieġ. Jekk tivvota bħas-soltu ikollok l-istess riżultati. Ġieli tinduna bihom mill-ewwel u ġieli tieħu ftit taż-żmien. Imma fir-realtà ma hemmx x’tagħżel bejniethom.

Id-differenza qegħda biss fl-attenzjoni ta’ kif jagħmlu l-affarijiet.

PNPL : m’hemmx x’tagħżel bejniethom.

PNPL Pezza Wahda_1200x1200px

Linking energy and democracy

 
The Times Logo
Saturday, June 18, 2011 ,
by

Carmel Cacopardo

 

Last weekend, Italian voters said no to nuclear energy for the second time since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 25 years ago.

Italy is not alone in refusing to handle nuclear energy. The Fukushima incidents have driven home the point that, even in a country that is very strict on safety standards, nuclear energy is not safe. Fukushima has proven that no amount of safeguards can render nuclear energy 100 per cent safe. Though accidents are bound to happen irrespective of the technology used, the risks associated with nuclear technology are such that they can easily wipe out life from the affected area in a very short time.

Last weekend’s no has a particular significance for Malta as this means an end to plans for the construction of a nuclear power plant at Palma di Montechiaro on Sicily’s southern coast, less than 100 kilometres from the Maltese islands.

Germany’s Christian Democrat/Liberal coalition government, faced with the resounding victory of the Greens in the Länd of Baden-Württemberg, has made a policy U-turn. As a direct effect of the Greens-led opposition to Germany’s nuclear programme, Germany will be nuclear-energy free as from 2022, by which date all existing nuclear power installations will be phased out. In doing so, the Merkel government has, once and for all, accepted the Green-Red coalition agreement on a complete nuclear phaseout.

Even Switzerland is planning not to make use of its existing nuclear plants beyond their scheduled projected life. The Swiss government will be submitting to Parliament a proposal not to replace existing nuclear plants. The process is scheduled to commence in 2019 and will conclude with the closure of the last Swiss nuclear reactor in 2034.

After the Tunisian revolution, Abdelkader Zitouni, the leader of Tunisie Verte, the Tunisian Green party, has called on Tunisia’s transitional government to repudiate the Franco-Tunisian agreement for the provision of nuclear technology by France. Hopefully, the same will happen when the Administration of Libya is back to normal.

There are other Mediterranean neighbours that are interested in the construction of nuclear plants. Libya and Tunisia were joined by Algeria, Morocco and Egypt in reacting positively to Nicolas Sarkozy, the peripatetic nuclear salesman during the past four years.

Malta could do without nuclear energy installations on its doorstep. Italy’s decision and the policy being advocated by Mr Zitouni are a welcome start. It would be wishful thinking to imagine Foreign Minister Tonio Borg taking the initiative in campaigning for a Mediterranean free of nuclear energy even though this is in Malta’s interest.

It is a very healthy sign that Malta’s neighbours together with Germany and Switzerland are repudiating the use of nuclear energy. Their no to nuclear energy is simultaneously a yes to renewable energy. This will necessarily lead to more efforts, research and investment in renewable energy generation as it is the only reasonable way to make up for the shortfall between energy supply and demand.

A case in point is the Desertec project, which is still in its infancy. The Desertec initiative is based on the basic fact that six hours of solar energy incident on the world’s deserts exceeds the amount of energy used all over the globe in one whole year. Given that more than 90 per cent of the world’s population lives within 3,000 kilometres of a desert, the Desertec initiative considers that most of the world’s energy needs can be economically met through tapping the solar energy that can be captured from the surface of the deserts.

The technology is available and has been extensively tested in the Mojave Desert, California, in Alvarado (Badajoz), Spain and in the Negev Desert in Israel where new plants generating solar energy on a large scale have been in operation for some time. The Desertec project envisages that Europe’s energy needs can be met through tapping the solar energy incident on the Sahara desert. The problems that have to be surmounted are of a technical and of a geopolitical nature.

On the technical front, solutions are being developed to address more efficient storage and the efficient transmission of the electricity generated.

The Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt and, hopefully, the successful conclusion of the Libyan revolution will address the other major concern: that of energy security. The movement towards democracy in North Africa can contribute towards the early success of the Desertec project in tapping solar energy in the Sahara desert for use in both Northern Africa and in Europe.

While Malta stands to gain economically and environmentally through the realisation of such a project, I have yet to hear the government’s enthusiasm and commitment even if the project is still in its initial stages.

Malta is committed in favour of the pro-democracy movements in Egypt, Tunisia and Benghazi. Being surrounded by democratic neighbours is a definitely positive geopolitical development. If properly nurtured, this would enhance Malta’s economic development, energy security and environmental protection concerns.