€40,000 nefqa fl-elezzjoni ġenerali

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Kandidat fl-elezzjoni ġenerali issa ser ikun jista’ jonfoq sa massimu ta’ €40,000 fil-kampanja elettorali fl-elezzjoni ġenerali, jekk jikkontesta fuq żewġ distretti.

Dan joħroġ mil-liġi dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti li issa waslet fl-aħħar stadji biex tkun approvata mill-Parlament u tidħol fis-seħħ matul ix-xhur li ġejjin.

Għal uħud li kandidat jonfoq €40,000 f’kampanja elettorali hu aċċettabbli.

F’Alternattiva Demokratika naħsbu li dan l-ammont hu wieħed esaġerat.  Ħarsa madwarna turi li dawn l-ammonti intefqu fil-passat, probabbilment li intefqu iktar ukoll. Imma li issa l-liġi ser tippermetti dan l-infieq ifisser li l-infieq esaġerat ser isir aċċettabbli ukoll.

Huwa żball li jkun inkoraġġit dan l-infieq kollu.

Sal-lum l-infieq permissibli kien €1,400 (Lm600). Alternattiva Demokratika jidhrilha li infieq sa massimu ta’ €4,000 kien ikun ħafna iktar ragjonevoli għal kull kandidat.

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The Financing of Political Parties: (6) The Bill. Expenditure during electoral campaigns

euros-loads-of-money 

 

The Bill revises the amounts which is permissible to spend during an electoral campaign.

Today, in a general election, the permissible expenditure for a candidate is €1,400 irrespective of whether he/she contests one or two electoral districts. The Bill proposes a revision of this amount to €20,000 for each Electoral District contested.  Alternattiva Demokratika considers that this amount is too much on the high side. It is of the opinion that a reasonable amount should be  €4,000.

With respect to the election for the European Parliament the Bill recommends that the current limit of slightly over €18,000 should be revised to €50,000.  Alternattiva Demokratika considers that this amount is too much on the high side. It is of the opinion that a reasonable amount should be  €20,000.

In elections for Local Councils today’s permissible limit for expenditure is €1,400 per candidate. The Bill recommends that this amount should be revised to €5,000 per candidate. Alternattiva Demokratika considers that this amount is too much on the high side. It is of the opinion that a reasonable amount should be between €2,000 and €4,000 depending on the Local Council being contested.

Alternattiva Demokratika considers that it would also be advisable that the expenditure of political parties in an electoral campaign is regulated. This is not addressed in the Bill accept through the publication of audited accounts.  We consider it advisable that the expenditure of political parties in an electoral campaign are regulated in the same manner as is proposed for individual candidates.

Financing of political parties and the Grenada General Elections

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The year 2013 Grenada had general elections.  The Opposition New National Party (NNP) on the 19 February 2013 won a landslide victory winning 15 out of 15 parliamentary seats. A clean sweep!

Of particular interest is the report of the election observors acting on behalf  the Organisation of America States (OAS).

In its report the OAS mission reported as follows :

“Another issue of concern brought to the Mission’s attention is the lack of legal measures that obligate political parties and candidates to disclose the sources of campaign financing. Key actors in the country recognized the imperative need to address equity, transparency and accountability in electoral processes, including adoption of campaign finance regulations.” (pages 3 and 4)

The OAS Mission further recommended that :

To this end the following recommendations are respectfully proposed:

• * Enacting legislation to regulate campaign financing establishing clear limits

on campaign spending and disclosure mechanism to require political parties

the publication of funding sources.

• * Establishing prohibitions for anonymous and foreign donations, as well as

clear limits to private and in kind donations to political and electoral

campaigns.”

This makes very interesting reading, more so when we familiarise ourselves with issues very topical in Grenada.

Iva fil-principju: kontrolli fuq il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi

AD.Press Conference 080214

Alternattiva Demokratika taqbel fil-prinċipju mal-proposti fil-White Paper dwar il-finanzjament tal-politika iżda taħseb li bosta mid-dettalji dwar il-proposti li saru għandhom ikunu kkunsidrati mill-ġdid.  Alternattiva Demokratika b’mod konsistenti tul il-25 sena tal-eżistenza tagħha dejjem ħadmet favur ir-regolamentazzjoni tal-finanzjament tal-politika u tal-partiti. Alternattiva Demokratika ser tieħu sehem fil-konsultazzjoni pubblika u għal dan l-iskop ħejjiet dokument bil-proposti tagħha li dwaru tistenna li jkollha diskussjonjijiet mal-Gvern.

M’huwiex għaqli li l-awtorita regolatorja dwar il-partiti politiċi u l-finanzjament tagħhom tkun il-Kummissjoni Elettorali. Alternattiva Demokratika qed tipproponi li r-regolatur ikun il-Kummissarju dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Il-Kummissjoni Elettorali hi taħt il-kontroll esklussiv tal-partiti politiċi li hemm fil-Parlament iżda l-Kummissarju dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika, meta jinħatar, bil-qbil ta’ żewg terzi tal-membri tal-Parlament, għandu jkun mhux biss persuna ta’ integrita iżda fuq kollox persuna aċċettabbli għal faxxa iktar wiesa’ ta’ nies.

L-White Paper titkellem ukoll dwar ir-reġistrazzjoni tal-Partiti u tidħol f’numru ta’ dettalji dwar kif għandhom ikunu organizzati. Alternattiva Demokratika, filwaqt li taqbel mal-proposta ta’ reġistrazzjoni tal-partiti politiċi jidhrilha li l-White Paper tidħol f’ħafna dettalji żejda. Kien ikun ħafna aħjar kieku illimitat ruħha għall-essenzjali. Hemm qbil li r-reġistrazzjoni tal-partiti politiċi għandu teżiġi li l-partiti jkunu demokratiċi fil-ħsieb u fil-forma, imma ma hemm l-ebda ħtieġa li din tidħol ukoll fid-dettall ta’ kif taħdem l-organizzazzjoni interna ta’ partit politiku.

Hemm il-periklu  li ma tittieħidx konsiderazzjoni tad-differenzi fid-daqs tal-partiti u allura ukoll fir-riżorsi li dawn għandhom. Filwaqt li Alternattiva Demokratika tifhem u taċċetta li l-kontijiet tal-partiti politiċi għandhom ikunu soġġetti għal verifika, hu innutat li l-White Paper ma tiddistingwix bejn il-partiti l-kbar li għandhom turnover ta’ miljuni fis-sena u Alternattiva Demokratika li t-turnover tagħha ma jaqbiżx il-€15,000 fis-sena.   F’dan ir-rigward Alternattiva Demokratika qed tipproponi li fil-każ ta’ partiti politiċi li t-turnover annwali tagħhom ma jaqbiżx il-€100,000, l-ispejjes konnessi mal-verifika annwali jitħallsu mir-regolatur.

L-qalba tal-proposti fil-White Paper jirrigwardaw id-donazzjonijiet lill-partiti politiċi u kif dawn għandhom ikunu regolati. Alternattiva Demokratika jidhrilha illi l-limiti illi tipproponi l-White Paper huma għoljin wisq. Fil-fehma ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika, filwaqt li donazzjonijiet taħt l-€4,000 fis-sena għandhom jibqgħu protetti bil-kunfidenzjalita’, d-donazzjonijiet bejn l-€4,000 u l-€40,000 fis-sena għandhom ikunu pubbliċi u tingħata informazzjoni dwarhom lir-regolatur. M’ghandux ikunu possibli li donazzjonijiet jaqbżu l-€40,000 fis-sena.

L-White Paper ma titkellimx dwar self mill-partiti politiċi u in partikolari tinjora l-possibilita li s-self jista’ jintuża biex jostor donazzjonijiet u b’hekk ikunu evitati l-proċeduri ta’ trasparenza. Il-White Paper l-anqas ma teżamina l-kontrolli meħtieġa fuq l-attivita’ kummerċjali tal-partiti kif l-anqas ma teżamina kif jista’ jkun hemm iktar kontrolli effettivi dwar l-użu mill-partiti politiċi ta’ propjeta pubblika.

L-ammonti li l-White Paper tistabilixxi bħala l-għola infieq permissibli fil-kampanja elettorali huma għoljin wisq u għandhom jonqsu minn dak propost. Alternattiva Demokratika qed tipproponi illi l-infieq tal-kandidati m’għandux jaqbeż l-€4,000 fil-każ ta’ elezzjoni generali u €20,000 fil-każ tal-elezzjoni tal-Parlament Ewropew. L-infieq fil-kaz tal-elezzjonijiet tal-Kunsilli Lokali hu propost li jkun bejn €2,000 u €4,000 skond id-daqs tal-Kunsill.

L-White Paper tinjora l-limitu neċessarju ta’ infieq mill-partiti politiċi fl-elezzjonijiet. Dan m’huwiex aċċettabbli u jeħtieġ li jkun rimedjat meta titfassal il-liġi.

Matul il-gimgħat li ġejjin Alternattiva Demokratika tistenna illi tiddiskuti l-veduti tagħha mal-Gvern.

Tiftakru l-Bank of Vassallo?

Bank of Vassallo

Il-White Paper ippreżentata mill-Gvern il-bieraħ dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi hu pass tajjeb il-quddiem li dwaru Alternattiva Demokratika  tkellmet f’kull programm elettorali tagħha mill-1992 lil hawn.

Naqbel 100% mal-prinċipji ta’ trasparenza u kontabilita’ li l-White Paper tmexxi l-quddiem iżda hemm ħtieġa ta’ diskussjoni fil-fond fuq id-dettalji, ċjoe fuq kif ser titħaddem l-eventwali liġi.

L-ammonti dwar donazzjonijiet li huma proposti fil-White Paper huma għoljin wisq u għandhom jonqsu,  bħalma għandhom jonqsu l-limiti dwar l-infieq permissibli minn kandidati fl-elezzjonijiet diversi. Naħseb li hu esaġerazzjoni illi l-obbligu ta’ reġistrazzjoni jibda ma donazzjoni ta’ €10,000 kif tipproponi l-White Paper. Tajjeb li niftakru li €10,000 huma ftit iktar minn paga minima ta’ persuna waħda għal sena sħiha. L-ammont li jekk jinqabeż ikun hemm notifika dwaru għandu jkun ferm iktar baxx minn hekk. Fil-programm elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika għall-elezzjoni ta’ Marzu 2013 ipproponejna li dan it-threshold għandu jkun ta’ €4,000. Jidhirli li dan hu ferm iktar raġjonevoli minn dak li tipproponi l-White Paper.

Il-White Paper ma titkellimx dwar self li l-partiti politiċi jista’ jkollhom minn żmien għal żmien. Konna smajna ftit qabel l-aħħar elezzjoni ġenerali kif il-Partit Nazzjonalista kien issellef madwar kwart ta’ miljun euro mingħand il-Bank of Vassallo. Dakinnhar kien intqal li din kienet transazzjoni kummerċjali u li dan kien self li kien ser jitħallas lura.  Jekk tħallasx lura jew le ma nafx. Imma jibqa’ l-fatt li hu mċajpar fejn qiegħed il-punt ta’ diviżjoni bejn l-attivita’ kummerċjali  u l-ħidma politika tal-partiti politiċi. Il-White Paper m’hi xejn ċara dwar dan.

Hemm imbagħad it-taparsi self li jista’ jsir lill-partiti bħalma ġara fl-Ingilterra xi snin ilu. L-iskandlu fl-Ingilterra dakinnhar kien li dawn ma kienux każijiet ta’ self imma ta’ għotjiet sostanzjali moħbija biex jevitaw li jkunu dikjarati bħala tali. Dwar dan it-tip ta’ logħob il-White Paper hi siekta ukoll.

Fil-White Paper ma hemm l-ebda referenza għall-infieq permissibli mill-partiti politiċi waqt kampanja elettorali.  Nistaqsi: hu aċċettabbli li partit politiku f’Malta jonfoq il-miljuni f’kampanja elettorali? Jiena naħseb li dan it-tip ta’infiq hu esagerazzjoni.  Huwa nuqqas gravi li hu injorat. L- anqas ma huma raġjonevoli il-limiti l-ġodda proposti għal-infieq mill-kandidati.  L-€1,400 limitu tal-lum għal kandidat f’elezzjoni ġenerali hu redikolu u l-parti l-kbira tal-kandidati kienu jinjorawh.  Imma l-€25,000 limitu għal infieq minn kandidat għal elezzjoni ġenerali hu għoli wisq. Mhux għax m’hemmx min diġa jonfoq iktar minn hekk. Imma għax hu esaġerazzjoni li m’għandux ikun permess. L-elezzjoni mhiex battalja ta’ min jonfoq l-iktar, iżda battalja ta’ ideat. Eżerċizzju biex nikkonvinċu lill-elettorat mhux eżerċizzju ta’ l-isbaħ kuluri u parties. Biċ-ċifri proposti għal infieq li jkun permess il-White Paper qed tagħti messaġġ żbaljat.

Il-Kummissjoni Elettorali ma tistax tkun l-aħjar regolatur għax tul is-snin u għal raġunijiet storiċi ukoll ġiet ikkapparata mill-Partit Nazzjonalista u mill-Partit Laburista. Fil-Parlament bħalissa qed issir diskussjoni dwar l-istandards ta’ inġieba u etika fil-ħajja pubblika. Dak hu l-forum addattat. Hemmhekk il-Gvern u l-Opposizzjoni qed jaqblu li għandu jkun hemm persuna indipendenti li tissorvelja l-imġieba fil-ħajja pubblika. Tajjeb li l-finanzjament tal-partiti jkun regolat f’dan l-istess qafas.

Il-White Paper titkellem ukoll dwar il-ħtieġa tar-reġistrazzjoni tal-partiti u tipproponi diversi miżuri li bihom għandhom ikunu irregolati l-partiti politiċi. Naħseb illi f’dan il-qasam il-White Paper qed tidħol f’ħafna dettal żejda. Ikun għaqli li wieħed jillimita ruħu għal dak li hu essenzjali.

F’dawn il-ġranet il-Gvern permezz tas-Segretarju Parlamentari Owen Bonnici ser jibda proċess ta’ konsultazzjoni pubblika dwar il-proposti li saru fil-White Paper. Owen hu persuna li kapaċi tisma’.  Alternattiva Demokratika fi ħsiebha tiltaqa’ miegħu biex twassal proposti dettaljati dwar kif il-finanzjament tal-partiti jista’ jkun regolat b’mod adegwat.

B’hekk nassiguraw li mhux biss nagħmlu pass il-quddiem, iżda li dan il-pass ikun ukoll fis-sod.

ippubblikat fuq iNews l-Erbgħa 5 ta’ Frar 2014

Taż-żejt jagħtu karozza lill-Labour Party ta’ Joseph Muscat

Daewoo veritas

Huwa u jixhed il-bieraħ quddiem il-Kumitat għall Kontijiet Pubbliċi l-bieraħ George Farrugia xehed fl-istess żmien li ta’ riġal ta’ arloġġ tal-lira lil Tonio Fenech (dak iż-żmien Ministru tal-Finanzi) hu u ħutu kienu taw rigal ta’ karozza lill-Partit tal-Labour ta’ Joseph. Fix-xhieda issemma Manwel Cuschieri ex-President tal-Partit li kien in kuntatt dwar dan ir-rigal.

Kif ma qalilna xejn dwar dan ir-rigal is-Sur Manwel!

Il-bieraħ fil-għaxija it-Times qaltilna hekk:

“Pardoned oil trader George Farrugia told the Public Accounts Committee this evening that he and his brothers had given the Labour Party a car at around the same time that they had given former Finance Minister Tonio Fenech a crafted clock.

His brother Raymond, he said, had been in contact with former Labour official Manuel Cuschieri over the Daiwoo donation.

He also said that another two crafted clocks, worth €400 each, had been donated to the Nationalist Party and were included in the Independence Day lottery prizes”

Anke’ l-Malta Today il-bieraħ semmew ir-rigal tal-karozza Daewoo lill-Labour ta’ Joseph. Il-Malta Today tgħidilna iktar. Tgħidilna li waqt il-kampanja elettorali l-kumpanija ta’ Farrugia ipprovdiet numru ta’ karozzi lil Labour u lill-PN. L-anqas din ma qalulna!

Taż-żejt jinvestu fis-sod, anke fil-Labour Party, mhux biss fil-PN.

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (15) Financing of Political Parties

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The following extract is taken verbatim from Chapter 6 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

AD believes in the introduction of strict rules on donations to political parties, coupled with the state financing of political parties. As regards the former, we believe that donations in excess of €5,000 should be declared by political parties and those over €40,000 should be made illegal. In the case of state financing of political parties, we suggested that the state should grant on an annual basis to all political parties €3 for every vote obtained on a national level, during a general or a European election.

There should be a system of state financing for political parties. State financing provides transparency and can be coupled with strict regulations such as ensuring that political parties produce audited accounts on a regular basis.

Political parties should present their accounts every year and these should be verified by an independent commission appointed by the Auditor General.

The sum which each candidate can spend in a general election should be increased from €1400 to €4000. But this amount should include the expenditure made the party at a national level divided by the number of candidates presented. Any expenditure made by third parties to assist the candidate should also be included.

The accounts presented by each candidate should be verified by a commission appointed by the Auditor General.

The expenditure made by each candidate should be tax exempt provided that it is within the established limits.

A commission should establish the value of government property leased to political parties and revise rents and leases to market conditions on a regular basis.

L-Estratt segwenti hu mehud kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 6 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

AD temmen fl-introduzzjoni ta’ regoli aktar stretti fuq id-donazzjonijiet, flimkien mal-finanzjament tal-partiti mill-istat. Fir-rigward tal-ewwel, nemmnu li donazzjonijiet ogħla minn €5,000 għandhom jiġu ddikjarati mill-partiti politiċi u dawk ta’ aktar minn €40,000 għandhom ikunu illegali. Fil-każ tal-finanzjament tal-partiti mill-istat, nipproponu li l-istat jagħti lill-partiti politiċi kollha €3 għal kull vot miksub fuq livell nazzjonali f’elezzjoni ġenerali jew Ewropea.

Għandu jkun hemm sistema ta’ finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi mill-istat. Il-finanzjament tal-istat jipprovdi t-trasparenza u jista’ jingħaqad ma’ regoli stretti bħal, ngħidu aħna, li kull partit ikun obbligat ikollu kontijiet awditajati.

Il-partiti politiċi għandhom jippreżentaw kull sena l-kontijiet tagħhom u dawn għandhom jiġu vverifikati minn kummissjoni indipendenti maħtura mill-Awditur Ġenerali.

Is-somma li jista’ jonfoq kull kandidat fil-kampanja elettorali għandha titla’ minn €1400 għal €4000. Iżda dan l-ammont għandu jinkludi n-nefqa magħmula mill-partit fuq livell nazzjonali diviża bl-għadd tal-kandidati. Kull nefqa minn terzi biex tgħin lil kandidat għandha tkun inkluża wkoll. Il-kontijiet ippreżentati minn kull kandidat għandhom jiġu vverifikati minn kummissjoni maħtura mill-Awditur Ġenerali. In-nefqa ta’ kull kandidat għandha tkun eżenti mit-taxxa sakemm din tkun fil-limiti stabiliti.

Għandha titwaqqaf kummissjoni biex tistabbilixxi l-valur tal-proprjetà tal-gvern mikrija lill-partiti politiċi u tirrevedi l-kirjiet għal-livelli tas-suq fuq bazi regolari.

Financing politics in Malta in 2013

euros-loads-of-money

Dr Lawrence Gonzi, some days ago complained that the Labour Party was spending quite a lot on its electoral campaign.

Last Sunday a local newspaper reported on replies it received from poltical parties on the manner in which they are financing their electoral campaign.

Ralph Cassar Secretary General of Alternattiva Demokratika said that the Greens  had a maximum budget of €20,000 for this electoral campaign. It was financed from small donations received from supporters. The largest donation in 2013 was €250.

Then there was deafening silence from the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party.  They have not supplied any information on the manner in which their electoral campaign has been financed nor as to how much it is expected to cost.

It is clear to one and all that the PN and the PL are sparing no costs in this electoral campaign. They are spending millions of euros.

The question remains: who is financing the PN and the PL?  How will the PN and the PL pay back their sponsors?

Malta as yet does not regulate the financing of political parties. Lawrence Gonzi in his years as Prime Minister has spoken a lot on the subject. But his deeds did not match his words.

A Private Member’s motion was presented in Parliament last year by maverick MP Franco Debono. Yet none supported him.

A Green MP after the March 2013 elections will champion the need to regulate the financing of political parties.

The others are not interested.

First published on di-ve.com on January 25, 2013

L-Enemalta tiffinanzja l-kampanja elettorali tal-PN

Enemalta

Il-Ministru Tonio Fenech il-bieraħ ippreżenta ir-rapport tal-KPMG dwar il-proposta tal-Labour fuq l-enerġija waqt konferenza stampa fil-kwartieri ġenerali tal-PN.

Il-KPMG kienu imqabbda mill-Korporazzjoni Enemalta biex jagħmlu dan ir-rapport. Nifhem li l-ispejjes ta’ dan ir-rapport tħallsu mill-Korporazzjoni Enemalta. Jiġifieri mit-taxxi li nħallsu aħna lkoll. Qed ngħid mit-taxxi u mhux mill-kontijiet tad-elettriku minħabba li dak li l-Korporazzjoni Enemalta tiġbor mill-kontijiet mhux biżżejjed biex tħallas l-ispejjes tagħha. Tingħata l-għajnuna permezz ta’ sussidji li jipprovdilha l-Gvern mit-taxxi.

Mela l-konklużjoni loġika ta’ dan kollu hi li l-Korporazzjoni Enemalta ikkummissjonat rapport biex jintuża fil-kampanja elettorali tal-PN. Ir-rapport ma kienx meħtieġ għall-Gvern, iżda kien meħtieġ għall-PN.

Naħseb li dan hu finanzjament illeċtu tal-kampanja elettorali tal-PN bl-użu ta’ fondi pubbliċi.

F’pajjiżi oħra l-istampa indipendenti kienet tqajjem kjass u teżiġi li l-PN iħallas lura lill-Enemalta l-ispejjes li għamlet. Il-korporazzjonijiet pubbliċi m’għandhomx jintużaw b’mod partiġjan!

Imma donnu li f’Malta kollox jgħaddi! Qiesu ma ġara xejn.

The concrete jungle at Marsascala

 

Marsascala is fast becoming a concrete jungle. Houses have been pulled down and redeveloped over the past years with blocks of flats and garages taking their place. This is the manner in which the building industry is proceeding, raping what’s left of our built environment with the assistance of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority. The number of vacant dwellings in the meantime keeps increasing. It has surpassed the 54,000 mark established in the 2005 census.

The latest addition to this jungle is the massive development at Ta’ Monita. Dwarfing the Marsascala parish church it ruins the skyline.

A letter entitled Marsascala Ruined Once And For All was published on March 22, 2011 in The Times. The online comments it generated are indicative of the perceived links between politics and the building industry. The fact that the Ta’ Monita Mepa permit was issued in April 2004, two years before the present Marsascala mayor was first elected, does not in any way diminish the seriousness of the perceived contamination.

George Vella, elected as member of Parliament for many years from the electoral district of which Marsascala forms part, made a very passionate intervention on the matter in the House of Representatives on April 11, 2011. He lamented the fact that a local council that has been under the guidance of his party’s local councillors appears insensitive to the manner in which the Ta’ Monita development is engulfing the Marsascala community.

While subscribing to most of what Dr Vella stated on the matter, I noted that during his intervention he did not consider it appropriate to refer to the impacts which the financing of electoral campaigns could have on the behaviour of politicians. It is an issue the Labour Party should seriously examine in order to determine whether any of its representatives has risked being domesticated as a result of the financing of electoral campaigns.

Dr Vella used his observations on the Ta’ Monita development to launch a pre-emptive strike on what could be another potential bombshell.

St Anne public garden in Marsascala has been devolved to the local council since November 2010. Rumours have been circulating for some time as to what uses are being considered for the area. The said rumours would also have us believe as to who will be favoured by decisions yet to be taken.

On March 15, 2011 the Marsascala local council was informed by its mayor that a call for “an expression of interest” on St Anne public garden would be issued shortly. He said that, while embellishment works would be one of the objectives, these would be in addition to the construction of administrative offices, some shops, an underground car park and linkage to the Church parvis in order to develop what is, to date, a missing village square. In addition, according to the council’s published minutes, the Marsascala mayor deems it essential to carry out a traffic survey. He also considers that the opening up of Triq il-Qrempuċ could ease traffic pressures on the waterfront, thereby permitting more leisurely commercial activity.

I have had the opportunity to ask the mayor various questions about the project. He is envisaging public consultation and an involvement of the private sector. According to the published minutes, decisions are to be taken by the local council at some time in the future after considering submissions by the private sector and comments from the community.

While the minutes of the local council are in conflict with the rumours in circulation, one never knows what can crop up in the form of proposals to be submitted by the “private sector”.

The Marsascala mayor is on record as stating that “nothing will be done outside public scrutiny”. It is submitted that this is not sufficient because it makes little difference to the community if its assets are ruined openly or in an underhand manner.

An open discussion is urgently required on the very parameters of the project in order that it be ensured that the community is the real beneficiary.

Given that the Local Plan applicable to Marsascala defines the area as being a “public urban open space”, the starting point of the debate should be the compatibility of the project with the Local Plan.

This exercise, when carried out, would reveal that most of the elements of the project, which may be of interest to the private sector, are in conflict with the provisions of the Local Plan for the area (vide South Local Plan policy SMSE 04). The project is hence a non-starter.

So, for the time being, the only matter the public is sure of is that the concrete jungle in Marsascala keeps being extended. Change for the better at times seems to get more distant in time. That is until you realise that you cannot achieve change if you do not vote for it..

Published in The Times of Malta, May 21  2011