Ċaħda tal-intolleranza

Nhar il-Ħamis li għadda, flimkien ma uffiċjali oħra tal-Alternattiva Demokratika, attendejt fil-lokalità ta’ San Ġwann għal ċerimonja qasira imma simbolika li tfakkar l-40 anniversarju tal-qtil ta’ Karin Grech b’ittra bomba nhar it-28 ta’ Diċembru tal-1977. Din iċ-ċerimonja kienet organizzata mill-Partit Laburista, u ilha tkun organizzata sena wara l-oħra sa mill-1978.

Iktar kmieni matul dan l-istess xahar għamilt l-istess fil-Gudja fil-wieħed u tletin anniversarju tal-qtil ta’ Raymond Caruana, ċerimonja dakinnhar organizzata mill-Partit Nazzjonalista.

Il-parteċipazzjoni tiegħi u tal-Alternattiva Demokratika fiż-żewġ ċerimonji ta’ kommemorazzjoni ma saritx biex iżżomm xi bilanċ artifiċjali imma għax hu meħtieġ li dawn il-grajjiet infakkruhom flimkien. Possibilment ilkoll flimkien. Huwa hekk biss li jista’ jasal ċar u bl-aħjar mod il-messaġġ taċ-ċaħda tal-intolleranza. Sakemm il-Partit Laburista u l-Partit Nazzjonalista jibqgħu jagħmlu l-kommemorazzjoni għal rashom ser nibqgħu lura. Nittama li ma nistennewx wisq li nħottu l-firdiet partiġjani biex flimkien niftakru f’dawk li l-intolleranza ħasditilhom ħajjithom.

Il-weġgħa tal-familji ta’ Karin Grech u Raymond Caruana hi ferm ikbar minn weġgħa privata ikkawżata minn telfa ta’ bint jew iben, ħajja innoċenti ta’ żagħżugħ jew żagħżugħa. Hi weġgħa tal-pajjiż kollu. Hi għalhekk weġgħa tagħna lkoll. Ilkoll flimkien għandna l-obbligu li niftakru f’dak li wassal għall-qerda ta’ ħajjithom bit-tama li nagħmlu ħilitna biex ma jkunx hemm ripetizzjoni.

Hu għalhekk importanti li bil-presenza tagħna f’dawn il-kommemorazzjonijiet nagħtu xhieda taċ-ċaħda tal-intolleranza billi nħottu biċċa oħra, anke jekk żgħira, tal-ħajt li jifred dan il-pajjiż fi tribujiet ostili.

Dan hu pajjiż li kapaċi jalterna bejn mumenti ta’ solidarjetà eċċezzjonali ma mumenti ta’ ostilità bla qies. Mumenti ta’ sensittività għal dak li għaddej minnu ħaddieħor u waqtiet ta’ vjolenza bla qies. Kuntrarjament għal dak li jgħidu, din hi r-realtà tal-pajjiż. Iż-żewġ avvenimenti li kkomemorajna dan ix-xahar huma differenti fis-sens li huma frott ta’ ċirkustanzi kompletament differenti li żviluppaw fil-pajjiż fuq spazju ta’ għaxar snin bejn l-1977 u l-1987.

Il-qtil ta’ Karin Grech hu bla dubju assoċjat mat-tilwima industrijali tal-Gvern mat-tobba, liema tilwima damet tkarkar snin twal. Il-qtil ta’ Raymond Caruana min-naħa l-oħra hu frott it-tensjoni politika li żviluppat fil-pajjiż fil-bidu tas-snin tmenin u li bħala riżultat tagħha kien hawn ġgajtiet ta’ bulijiet li ppretendew li jagħmlu li jridu.

Is-similarità bejn il-każi hi l-ħasda ta’ ħajjiet innoċenti u l-fatt li l-investigazzjoni tal-Pulizija baqgħet mhux konkluża. Mhux għax il-Pulizija ma ippruvawx! Tant ippruvaw li f’kaz minnhom anke ippruvaw frameup bħalma jixhed il-kaz ta’ Pietru Pawl Busuttil.

Imma fortunatament dak hu passat, li fuqu għaddew iktar minn 30 sena! Nittama li jibqa’ passat u li niftakru fih biss biex nippruvaw nifhmu fejn wasslet l-intolleranza fostna.

Differenzi fostna ser jibqa’ jkollna. Uħud naslu biex insolvuhom imma oħrajn jibqgħu jkarkru. Irridu nagħmlu sforzi ikbar biex dawn id-differenzi ma nħalluhomx jikbru u nippruvaw insolvuhom b’metodi ċivili.

Id-differenzi fil-fehmiet jissolvew biss bid-djalogu u d-diskussjoni li għandhom ikunu u jibqgħu l-pern tal-proċess demokratiku. Il-vjolenza u azzjonijiet li jwasslu għaliha qatt ma jistgħu jitħallew jgħollu rashom.

ippubblikat f’Illum: 31 ta’ Diċembru 2017

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The intolerance in our midst

 

Last Thursday, I led a number of officers of Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green Party, at a short yet symbolic ceremony in San Ġwann commemorating Karin Grech, murdered by a letter bomb 40 years ago on 28 December 1977. The ceremony was organised by the Labour Party, as it has been continuously since 1978.

Earlier in December, I participated in a similar ceremony in Gudja on the 31st anniversary of the murder of Raymond Caruana, a ceremony organised by the Nationalist Party.

Alternattiva Demokratika’s participation in these two commemorative ceremonies is not an attempt to create a fictitious balance. Rather, it is an effort to underline the wish that such activities should be owned by all political families – all of whom should participate. It is the only way to send the clear message that there is no room for intolerance in our midst. With the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party continuing to organise these yearly commemorations as party activities, there is still a long way to go. There is no room for partisanship in commemorating the victims of intolerance.

The pain inflicted on the families of Karin Grech and Raymond Caruana is much greater than that caused by the loss of a daughter or a son: it is a pain inflicted on the whole country – it is our loss, too. It is thus our collective duty to remember what led to this loss, hoping that this remembrance will lead to the possible avoidance of the same mistakes.

By being present at such commemorative events, we bear witness to a determination to avoid intolerance through the dismantling of our own Berlin wall, the demarcation line of two hostile tribes.

This country is capable of alternating between moods of solidarity without any limits and moods of extreme hostility, alternating between being extremely sensitive to the needs of others to witnessing violence of the worst kind. Contrary to what some try to portray, this is the real Malta.

The two commemorations to which I am referring are different, as they are the consequence of different circumstances which developed in Malta in the 10 years between 1977 and 1987.

Karin Grech’s murder is undoubtedly associated with the doctors’ dispute which continued over a long period. On the other hand, Raymond Caruana’s murder was the result of the political tensions that engulfed the country during the 1980s, as a result of which the groups of thugs that roamed the streets dissipated the feeling that they laid down the rules.

The similarity between the two is the loss of innocent lives and the inconclusive police investigations. The police cannot be blamed for lack of trying, because in one of the cases it was proved in Court that the Police even tried – unsuccessfully – to frame an innocent person: Pietru Pawl Busuttil.

Fortunately that is the past – more than 30 years ago. I sincerely hope that its use will be restricted to reminding us of the fruit of intolerance.

Notwithstanding our efforts, we will still have plenty of differences – some of which we will resolve but others that will remain in the pending tray for some time. Our efforts must focus on ensuring that we try to solve our differences in a civil manner.

Dialogue should be our primary tool. It is possible: it is the basis of the democratic process.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 31 December 2017

Encouraging the avoidance of paying tax

The issue as to whether or not  Malta is a tax haven has been brought to the fore once again, as a result of the amendment to the Panama Papers Inquiry Report discussed in the European Parliament earlier this week. The defeated amendment would have seen Malta, Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands labelled by the European Parliament as “tax havens”.

The matter is much more complex. On the one hand it involves tax competition and on the other hand it is a matter of justice in taxation matters.

As has been repeatedly stated, competition on taxation matters is one of the few areas in which small, as well as peripheral, countries in the European Union have a competitive advantage. Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green Party is not in favour of loosing this competitive advantage through tax harmonisation in the EU. However, it has to be used in a responsible manner.

The rules permitting the refund of a substantial amount of tax paid by foreign-owned companies based in Malta is one of the main reasons for the current spotlight. This substantial tax refund effectively reduces the tax paid by such companies from 35% to five per cent and is obviously considered very attractive by a number of companies. The basic question that requires a clear answer is how many of these companies are letter-box companies, that is companies which do not have any part of their operations on Maltese soil?

It would be reasonable to encourage companies to base part of their operations in Malta and, as a result, make use of tax advantages. But in respect of those companies which have not moved any part of their operations to Malta, making use of beneficial taxation arrangements is unreasonable and unjust. It leads to such companies avoiding paying tax in the countries in which they create their profits and consequently avoiding their social responsibilities on paying taxes in the countries that are providing them with the very facilities which make it possible for them to create their wealth.

In a nutshell, Malta is providing these companies with the legal framework to avoid their taxation responsibilities in the countries in which they operate through payment of a fraction of these taxes to the Maltese Exchequer. They pocket the rest.

Hiding behind the EU unanimity rule on tax issues will not get us anywhere, as Ireland has learnt in the Apple case. At the end of the day, the situation is not just about  taxation: it also involves competition rules and rules regulating state aid, as the legal infrastructure encouraging the avoidance of taxation is, in effect, a mechanism for state aid. The is also an issue of tax justice, as a result of which tax should be paid where the profits are generated.

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, Malta included, 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 in the country 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 taxation rules. For this to happen, the EU member states must not only be vigilant, but they 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 : 17 December 2017

New Petrol Stations: immediate moratorium needed

For a short period of time, the number of new petrol stations in Malta was on the decline but recently this trend has reversed, undoubtedly as a result of the Planning Authority 2015 Fuel Service Station Policy.

New petrol stations are mushrooming all over the place, and not only is it easier to obtain a development permit to construct a petrol station but you get the added “concession” to ruin up to 3,000 square metres of surrounding land.

Those proposing the development of new petrol stations claim to be doing us a favour. They argue that the increasing number of cars on the road necessitates more and more petrol stations. The number of petrol stations in the Maltese islands currently stands at around 80 and new ones are mushrooming, undoubtedly fuelled by the 3,000 square metres permissible footprint in the 2015 planning policy.

It is submitted that the policy on the development of fuel stations should complement the policy on the phasing out of internal combustion engines and an immediate moratorium on the development of new petrol stations is essential.

During the 2017 General Election campaign, Alternattiva Demokratika proposed the phasing out of vehicles running on internal combustion engines in Malta over a 20-year period. This time-frame was deemed sufficient to develop an infrastructure for electric-driven cars. It was also deemed to be a reasonable time-frame to permit those who possessed vehicles running on internal combustion engines to adjust to a new reality without petrol or diesel.

This position was also taken up by the Labour government in Malta after the June election. However the details have not yet been determined.

Various other countries have decided on, or are considering, eliminating internal combustion engine driven vehicles from their roads, including Norway (by 2025), the Netherlands (by 2025), Germany (by 2030), France (by 2040), the United Kingdom (by 2040), India (by 2040) and China (by 2040). Others will soon inevitably follow.

In addition, car manufacturers are considering shifting to a manufacturing mode that will only produce hybrid or fully electric cars. Volvo will proceed on such a path by 2019 and no doubt others will follow fast on Volvo’s heels.

Within this context, does it make any sense to continue issuing development permits for more petrol stations?

We need an in-depth examination of transport related policies. It is clear to everyone  that our roads are bursting at the seams and that the further development of our road infrastructure is opening up our roads to more cars, as a consequence adding to our pollution problems and simultaneously making our accessibility worse.

An overhaul of Malta’s transport policies should seek to promote sustainable transport policies thereby reducing the number of cars on our roads.

Yesterday, I addressed a press conference on the site of the proposed extension to the road network at Attard. This project, when implemented, will take up valuable irrigated agricultural land. This is one more instance which will increase the number of cars on our roads, gobble up agricultural land and ruin the life of full time farmers.

Transport policy on these islands seems to be multi-directional, sending mixed signals in all directions. Some coherence is required. Establishing a moratorium on the construction of new petrol stations and establishing a date by which internal combustion engine driven vehicles are phased out from our roads would be a good first step. This should then be followed by ending the crazy spree of the development of new roads.

It is a process which will lead us to reclaim our roads for our own use, but then it will take some time.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 3 December 2017

Għalxejn nippuntaw subgħajna lejn xulxin

Il-bieraħ Alternattiva Demokratika ltaqgħet mal-Partit Laburista madwar mejda, mejda oħra, differenti minn dik ta’ nhar il-Gimgħa.

Huwa importanti li l-partiti politiċi nitkellmu flimkien iktar spiss. Hemm bżonn nitkellmu iktar imma ukoll hemm bżonn li nisimgħu iktar lil xulxin.

Tkellimna dwar il-politika, dwar dak li qed jiġri kif ukoll dwar dak li ġara. Tkellimna dwar l-ambjent, dwar it-toroq, dwar l-ODZ, dwar l-inċinerazzjoni u dwar id-droga.

Tkellimna dwar il-Konvenzjoni Kostituzzjonali u dwar l-istituzzjonijiet: kif dawn għandhom jissaħħu.

Meta Alternattiva Demokratika tieħu sehem f’laqgħat bħal dawn, dan tagħmlu għax bħal kull partit politiku għandha l-obbligu li ssemma leħinha u twassal dak li taħseb f’kull rokna tal-pajjiż.

Xi kultant l-għajjat u t-tejatrin fil-politka jista’ jidher neċessarju u effettiv. Imma fl-aħħar minn l-aħħar dan qatt ma jsolvi xejn. Il-problemi jistgħu jissolvew biss bil-kalma, madwar il-mejda. Dejjem ovvjament jekk aħna lesti li noqgħodu bil-qegħda u nisimgħu lil ħaddieħor bħalma nippretendu li ħaddieħor jisma’ lilna.

Pajjiżna għandu problemi li m’humiex żgħar. Biex nibdew insolvuhom jeħtieġ is-sehem ta’ kulħadd. Bħal dejjem, Alternattiva Demokratika lesta tagħti s-sehem tagħha. Dan tagħmlu billi titkellem ma kulħadd u ma tipponta subgħajha lejn ħadd.

Madwar il-mejda aħjar

Iktar kmieni illum flimkien ma uffiċjali oħra ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika iltqajt ma’ Adrian Delia l-Kap tal-PN. Iddiskutejna l-qagħda politika attwali u l-veduti taż-żewġ partiti dwar dak liqiegħed iseħħ bħalissa.

Il-klima politika li qed tiżviluppa fil-pajjiż qed twassal għal ħsara rreparabbli għar-reputazzjoni internazzjonali tal-pajjiż u iktar minn hekk qed ikunu imminati l-istituzzjonijiet tal-pajjiż li diġa huma dgħajfa. Dan ifisser li issa, iktar minn qatt qabel, hu meħtieġ li l-partiti politiċi f’Malta jaħdmu flimkien biex insibu soluzzjonijiet li jkunu effettivi kemm immedjatament kif ukoll fit-tul.

Din kien l-ewwel laqgħa. Il-ġimgħa d-dieħla ser niltaqgħu ma’ Joseph Muscat u l-Partit Laburista.

Nittama li din l-inizjattiva żgħira ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika tkun ta’ kontribut biex iġġib lill-partiti politiċi flimkien madwar il-medja, fejn jistgħu jinstabu s-soluzzjonijiet meħtieġa fl-interess tal-pajjiż.

Taħriġ mill-Fondazzjoni Ceratonia

 

Ceratonia? Iva din hi l-isem tal-fondazzjoni politika affiljata ma’ Alternattiva Demokratika. Ceratonia hi l-isem tekniku tal-ħarruba u allura ir-rabta man-natura u l-ekoloġija.

Dal-għodu, l-Fondazzjoni Ceratonia tat bidu għal taħrig ta’ numru ta’ żgħażagħ li huma interessati fil-politika ekoloġika.

Dan it-taħriġ qed isir bl-għajnuna tal-Green European Foundation, il-fondazzjoni tal-partiti ħodor Ewropej, u ser ikun mifrux fuq numru ta’ xhur.

Hu inkoraġġanti li fis-sitwazzjoni politka preżenti, fejn il-polarizzazzjoni qed issir dejjem iżjed akuta għad hawn min hu interessat fi triq politika differenti.

Konferenza Kostituzzjonali flok ippuntar tas-swaba’ lejn xulxin

 

Dal-għodu, fil-Belt Valletta quddiem il-Monument tal-Assedju l-Kbir ta’ Sciortino, li inbidel f’mafkar ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia indirizzajt konferenza ta’ l-aħbarijiet dwar il-klima negattiva li ħakmet lill-pajjiż wara l-qtil brutali ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia. Ilkoll nifhmu u napprezzaw li hu naturali li l-pajjiż kollu jixxokkja ruħu u jkun irrabjat. Imma huwa neċessarju ukoll li nifhmu li l-pajjiż ma jistax jibqa’ jinfena bi tfiegħ ta’ tajn u akkużi minn tribujiet politiċi mehdijin li jisparaw lil xulxin qisu mhemmx għada.

Din il-klima politika qed twassal għal ħsara irreparabbli għar-reputazzjoni internazzjonali ta’ Malta, u iktar minn hekk, l-imminar ta’ istituzzjonijiet li diġa` huma dgħajfa ħafna. 

F’dan il-kuntest, Alternattiva Demokratika tħoss li l-pajjiż għandu żewġ prijoritajiet importanti quddiemu. L-ewwel li min wettaq dan l-att atroċi u viljakk jinqabad u jitressaq quddiem il-ġustizzja mill-iktar fis. It-tieni prijorita` hija li b’mod immedjat, jitnieda tentattiv serju biex titfassal riforma kostituzzjonali mill-qiegħ li twassal għat-tisħieħ tabilħaqq tal-istituzzjonijiet li jiggarantixxu d-demokrazija u s-saltna tad-dritt f’pajjiżna. 

Kif irrimarkat tant tajjeb Rosi Bindi, ċ-ċhairperson tal-Kumitat Parlamentari antiMafja Taljana, Malta għandha taħdem biex tagħlaq ix-xquq fl-operat tal-istituzzjonijiet tagħha biex il-kriminalita` organizzata ma jkollhiex l-ispazji biex topera.

Hemm bżonn li nibdew inħarsu ‘l quddiem flok neħlu fl-ippuntar tas-subajn li mhu qed iwassalna mkien.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu, Alternattiva Demokratika thoss li wasal iz-zmien propizju biex flaħħar tiġi varata l-Konvenzjoni Kostituzzjonali li ilha mwieghda s-snin u dan biex tlaqqa flimkien il-partijiet konċernati kollha, u mhux biss il-partiti rappreżentati fil-Parlament.

Alternattiva Demokratika se tagħmel kuntatt mal-Prim Ministru u l-Kap tal-Oppozizzjoni, fost oħrajn, biex titlob li l-proċess jinbeda mill-iktar fis. Dan se tibqa’ tinsisti fuqu fil-jiem u fil-ġimgħat li ġejjin u mhux se tistrieh qabel dan il-proċess ta’ mportanza Nazzjonali fl-aħħar jingħata bidu. 

Manuel Delia u l-faxxisti kkastrati

 

Jiena u diversi minn sħabi f’Alternattiva Demokratika morna għad-dimostrazzjoni ta’ nhar il-Ħadd. Morna mhux għax kellna fiduċja li l-organizzaturi kienu ser iżommu ma dak li qalu: jiġifieri li joqgħodu l-bogħod mill-politika tal-partiti. Morna għax l-iskop tad-dimostrazzjoni kien superjuri għal kull argument li seta jkollna fil-konfront ta’ min organizza d-dimostrazzjoni u l-inkapaċità tagħhom li jimxu sewwa.

Morna u qagħdna lura, kif xtaqu l-organizzaturi. Imma mbagħad kif mistenni l-organizzaturi ħarġu ta’ tfal għax fost il-kelliema kellhom tnejn min-nies assoċjati direttament mal-PN. Wieħed minnhom, Manuel Delia, issa qiegħed jinfexx jgħajjar lil min ma jaqbilx miegħu u qiegħed jinsulenta. Ovvjament dan jagħmlu fi spirtu tar-rispett li għandu għall-fehmiet differenti li kien hemm fi Triq ir-Repubblika l-Belt nhar il-Ħadd.

Fost il-kumplimenti tiegħu insibu dan: “Mark Camilleri, Timothy Alden, Andre Callus, Alex Vella Gera and the rest of you pseudo-intellectual auto-castrated closet fascists with 100% cotton souvenir Che t-shirts still lovingly wrapped in plastic: buzz off, won’t you?”

Din id-darba ġejna għad-dimostrazzjoni għax tajnihom il-benefiċċju tad-dubju kif ukoll għax id-difiża tal-liberta tal-espressjoni tissaporti ħafna, inkluż il-pwerilità ta’ min messu jaf aħjar. Dan għamilnieh minkejja li konna konvinti li l-organizzaturi m’humiex ta’ kelmthom.

X’nagħmlu darba oħra ma nafx. Bħalna hemm ħafna oħrajn.

Michael Briguglio: kollox bil-maqlub!

 

Fuq Lovinmalta.com il-bieraħ u l-Independent illum kien rappurtat li Michael Briguglio qal hekk:
“I joined PN as I believed in Simon Busuttil’s struggle for good governance which AD did not support.”

Michael Briguglio ried li Alternattiva Demokratika tissieħeb fl-alleanza mal-PN irrispettivament mill-konsegwenzi. Kien ilu żmien konsiderevoli jagħmel pressjoni f’dan is-sens fuq il-predeċessur tiegħi Arnold Cassola. U Arnold b’mod ġentili kien joqgħod jieħu paċenzja jisimgħu anke meta kien “jinfurmah” li kien ilu żmien jiltaqa’ waħdu “jiddiskuti” fuq din l-imbierka koalizzjoni ma’ Simon Busuttil. U anke kien ftaħar li Busuttil wegħdu bosta affarijiet (qatt ma qal x’kienu) imma hu, qal, qatt ma aċċetta xejn.

Kif għidt diversi drabi, Alternattiva Demokratika ma waslitx għal ftehim mal-PN mhux biss għax il-PN ma riedx koalizzjoni suriet in-nies, imma ukoll għax ma kienx kredibbli.

Meta ltqajna mad-delegazzjoni tal-PN ġbidnielhom l-attenzjoni għal numru ta’ inkonsistenzi serji fl-imġieba tal-PN. Inkonsistenzi li lilna f’Alternattiva Demokratika kienu jdejjquna u li dwarhom konna diġa tkellimna pubblikament diversi drabi. Għax ma tistax tipprietka l-governanza tajba u fl-istess ħin meta uħud mill-għola persuni fil-PN ikun responsabbli ta’ imġieba mhux aċċettabbli, qiesu ma ġara xejn: il-kaz ta’ Beppe Fenech Adami u l-Capital One Investment Group, Mario de Marco u l-Grupp db, Simon Busuttil u l-invoices foloz tal-grupp db u Claudio Grech li ma jiftakarx jekk qatt iltaqax ma’ George Farrugia taz-zejt. Biex ma nsemmix ukoll lil Toni Bezzina li waqt li kien qed jikteb il-policy tal-PN dwar l-ambjent (ODZ hu ODZ) applika għal villa ODZ għalih, imma l-applikazzjoni kienet fuq isem il-mara! U qiesu ma ġara xejn!

Michael Briguglio għandu kull dritt li jqies dan kollu bħala insinifikanti. Imma ma jistax imbagħad fl-istess nifs jgħid li hu favur il-governanza tajba u jkun kredibbli.

Dan il-wiċċ b’ieħor jiena ma nistax għalih.

Michael Briguglio, kollox bil-maqlub!