Il-baġit hu wieħed nej

Scicluna + Speaker 2016

 

Il- baġit fih diversi ingridjenti tajbin. Iżda m’humiex imħalltin tajjeb. M’hemmx ħsieb biżżejjed. L-anqas m’huma msajra biżżejjed. Kif ngħidu bil-Malti: il-baġit hu nofsu nej.

F’dan l-artiklu ser nillimita ruħi għal uħud mill-proposti ta’ natura soċjali.

Nibda bil-paga minima. F’Malta din ġiet introdotta fl-1974 mit-tieni Gvern tal-Perit Mintoff.  Dakinnhar kienet stabilita għall-ammont ta’ Lm10, jiġifieri €23.29. Ovvjament Lm10, dakinnhar, kienu jiswew u bihom kont tixtri ferm iktar mill-tixtri illum. Kull sena, din il-paga minima tiżdied b’ammont li jikkumpensa għaż-żieda fil-għoli tal-ħajja. L-ammont jitħabbar fil- baġit. Iż-żieda b’effett minn l-1 ta’ Jannar li ġej ser tkun €1.75 biex b’hekk il-paga minima għal persuna ta’ il-fuq minn tmintax-il sena għal ġimgħa xogħol ta’ 40 siegħa issa ser tkun €168.01. Ma din irid jiżdied il-bonus statutorju.

Il-paga minima teħieġ li tkun reveduta. Meta tfasslet fl-1974, tfasslet għall-ħtiġijiet ta’ dakinnhar.

Illum, wara 41 sena teħtieġ titfassal mill-ġdid skont il-ħtiġijiet tal-lum. Fil-fatt studju li kien ippubblikat mill-Caritas f’Marzu 2012 kien jistma illi hu meħtieġ li jkun hemm żieda ta’ 13.8% fil-paga minima biex l-iktar persuni vulnerabbli jingħataw in-nifs.  Ir-rapport kien intitolat A Minimum Budget for a Decent Living. A research study by Caritas Malta focusing on three low-income household categories.

Il-Gvern,(kemm dak tal-lum kif ukoll dak tal-bieraħ) ma jaqbilx ma dan. L-argument politiku tagħhom hu li bit-taħriġ u l-investiment iffokat fuq il-kisba ta’ ħiliet, ikun possibli li taqla’ l-persuni fuq il-paga minima u ċċaqlaqhom ‘il-fuq fis-sellum tal-ħajja. Din hi idea nobbli imma fil-prattika, iddum ma tagħtik ir-riżultati. Sadanittant min hu vulnerabbli jispiċċa dipendenti mill-ħarsien soċjali u għajnuniet supplimentari. Jintgħaġen fid-dipendenza. Il-paga għal dawn in-nies mhiex biżżejjed għall-minimu neċessarju tal-ħajja. In-nuqqas tal-istat li jintervjeni biex il-paga minima toffri l-protezzjoni minima meħtieġa, hu messaġġ li bix-xogħol ma tistax tgħix meta dan jitħallas bil-paga minima li għandna illum.

Huwa neċessarju li nżewġu flimkien it-taħriġ, ma’ paga minima suriet in-nies li tkun rifless tal-ħtiġijiet minimi għall-bniedem tal-lum. In-nuqqas tal- baġit li jagħraf din il-ħtieġa u jagħġina bħala parti integrali mill-viżjoni tiegħu jagħmlu l-baġit wieħed nej.

Il- baġit jirrikonoxxi l-ħtieġa li togħla l-pensjoni minima nazzjonali biex din eventwalment tasal sa 60% tad-dħul medju f’pajjiżna.  Jagħmel  l-ewwel pass  billi jipproponi żieda fil-pensjoni minima għall-dawk li għandhom il-bolol tas-sigurta soċjali mħallsa b’tali mod li l-anqas pensjoni kontributorja ser tkun €7,280 fis-sena.  Dan hu pass tajjeb. Ħadd ma jistenna li l-aġġustament meħtieġ isir kollu f’daqqa. Imma l-pensjonanti tagħna li bnew  lil Malta kif inhi illum, bi dritt jippretendu li jkun stabilit żmien raġjonevoli sa meta l-pensjoni minima nazzjonali tkun 60% tad-dħul medju f’pajjiżna. Mhux biżżejjed li l-baġit  jgħid li dan it-tragward nilħquh sal-2027. Ikun xieraq li l-pensjonanti tagħna jingħataw lura d-dinjità w ir-rispett li jistħoqilhom. Anke hawn il-baġit kien jonqsu ftit ieħor biex isir. Għadu nofsu  nej.

L-aħħar eżempju li rrid insemmi huwa dwar il-persuni b’diżabilità. Il-baġit isemmi l-ħolqien ta’ hub għal persuni b’diżabilità. Il-baġit hu xott mid-dettalji u fil-fatt jiddedika biss 6 linji għal din il-proposta fil-paġna 77 tiegħu. Dawn id-dettalji imma kienu biżżejjed biex nhar il-Ħamis li għadda, l-eks-chairman tal-Kummissjoni Nazzjonali għall-Persuni b’Diżabilità Joseph Camilleri jiddeskirivi dak propost bħala attentat biex tkun introdotta s-segregazzjoni bis-serqa (Segregation by stealth. Times of Malta, October 15, 2015).

Joseph Camilleri jargumenta li għad hawn min ma jistax jaċċetta l-fatt li l-persuni b’diżabilità ukoll għandhom l-istess aspirazzjonijiet bħal kull wieħed u waħda minna. Għaddew minn istituzzjonijiet edukattivi li taw importanza ikbar lill-inklussività, u dan b’differenza kbira minn dak li rċevew il-ġenerazzjonijiet passati.

Il-proposta fil-baġit li toħloq dan il-hub għall-persuni b’diżabilità hu għaldaqstant pass retrogradu, nieqes mill-ħsieb u huwa anke perikoluż.  Is-soċjetà Maltija tant imxiet il-quddiem, li d-Dar tal-Providenza, il-pijuniera f’Malta tal-kura għall-persuni b’diżabilità, illum il-ġurnata qed tiffoka l-enerġija tagħha fuq inizjattivi bbażati fil-komunità li joffru opportunitajiet għal għixien indipendenti lill-persuni b’diżabilità.

Anke hawn il-baġit hu nej għax huwa nieqes mill-ħsieb. Post il-persuni b’diżabilità hu magħna fil-komunità u mhux ġo gaġġa bil-vireg tad-deheb. Għax is-segregazzjoni tibqa’ gaġġa u irrispettivament mill-kwalità għolja tas-servizz mogħti, tibqa’ ħajja f’gaġġa li toqtol l-aspirazzjonijiet tal-persuni b’diżabilità. Qed nitkellmu dwar persuni, mhux dwar numri.

Għalhekk, u għal bosta raġunijiet oħra, l-baġit ta’ nhar it-Tnejn kien wieħed nofsu nej.

Ippubblikat fil-gazzetta Illum, il-Ħadd 18 t’Ottubru 2015

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Labour : ensuring a smooth transition

Franco Debono has made many a statement during the past 12 months. He abstained when a vote of no confidence was submitted against Minister Austin Gatt. He explained that he did so as he wanted to give the man and his party another chance!

He has been stating for days now, that he will not vote in favour of the budget  because he considers that Austin Gatt should have resigned months ago due to his political failures. Whether  Franco Debono will keep his word is anybody’s guess. But if he does the budget will not be approved. We will have to keep guessing what comes next for some more days.

With this in mind the budget’s relevance is limited.

But we need not panic as Labour will come to the rescue. Labour, we are told, will deliver.

Progressive Labour will deliver income tax revised rates which will ignore low wage earners and reduce tax payable to those who are already reasonably well off. No tax deductions can be guaranteed for low wage earners by Labour.

Progressive Labour, like conservative PN, does not agree with the need to revise the minimum wage. It is not in the interest of employers to do so. And it is their vote which progressive Labour is after.  The employers’ vote, that is!

Why should progressive Labour accept the GWU’s proposal to have the cost of living adjustment paid in two installments?  There is consensus between the PN and Labour that the GWU’s proposals should be ignored. It is only Alternattiva Demokratika which has offered support for a progressive incomes policy as proposed by the GWU.

Labour, the progressive party, has opted for a conservative approach: the PN’s approach. It is the only way forward as in this way it ensures a smooth transition,  continuity and stability!

…………… and they looked from pig to man and from man to pig again and could not tell which was which.  The more things change, the more they remain the same.

published at di-ve.com  on Friday 30 November 2012

Joseph (il-progressiv) delivers

Joseph Muscat jaqbel mal-budget tal-bieraħ. Tant li qiegħed jgħid li l-Partit Laburista biss huwa l-unika garanzija li dan il-budget jista’ jitwettaq. Joseph delivers.

Jiġifieri Joseph Muscat jaqbel li min jaqla’ mhux ħażin titnaqqaslu it-taxxa minn 35% għal 25%. Fl-istess waqt min hu bil-paga minima jħallas it-taxxa fuq id-dħul. Ovvjament min kien qed jaħseb li Joseph hu favur il-batut aħjar jerġa’ jaħsibha sewwa għax il-voti (jaħseb Joseph) mhux min hemm iridu jiġu.

L-aqwa li jgħid li hu progressiv. Imma fl-istess ħin hu kontra li tiżdied il-paga minima. Fl-istess ħin ma jaqbilx mal-proposta tal-GWU li biex min jaqlagħha u jiekolha jbati inqas, iż-żieda għall-għoli tal-ħajja tingħata kull sitt xhur mhux kull sena kif tingħata issa. Joseph il-progressiv ma jaqbilx ma dan.

Wanted: a progressive incomes policy

The budget to be presented next Wednesday should revisit Malta’s incomes policy such that the difficulties faced by low income households is addressed.

The minimum wage should be increased in line with the findings of the Caritas Report published in March this year. This report entitled “A Minimum budget for a decent living” had focused on three low income household categories and concluded that it is necessary to uplift the statutory minimum wage from €158.11 to €180 per week of 40 hours. It is unfortunate that both the PN and Labour are deadset against this proposal.

Alternattiva Demokratika  realises the importance of such a proposal in assisting those having a low income to make ends meet and has repeatedly encouraged its implementation.

Another proposal on incomes policy is on the table. The General Workers’ Union has proposed that Cost of Living wage adjustments should be made every 6 months. Implementing this proposal would provide a realistic and timely compensation to those at the lower end of the social ladder.

Its about time that these proposals are seriously considered by government in its budget proposals.

originally published in di-ve.com, Friday 23rd November 2012