Il-basla li daħal fiha David Casa

L-istorja dal-għodu fil-Malta Today dwar il-Membru Parlamentari Ewropew David Casa u d-droga kokaina hi waħda gravi. Ma nafx jekk hiex minna jew le. Biż-żmien insiru nafu iktar dwar jekk hiex storja ivvintata inkella jekk hiex storja reali. Ovvjament, din l-istorja, barra milli hi ezerċizzju ta’ tpattija għal tkeċċija mix-xogħol hi storja immirata lejn il-kredibilitá ta’ David Casa u dan fir-rigward tal-posizzjoni iebsa li qed jieħu fil-Parlament Ewropew dwar diversi materji.

Jekk dak li qed jintqal hu minnu David Casa għandu bżonn l-għajnuna biex jindirizza d-dipendenza fuq id-droga. Jekk min-naħa l-oħra mhux minnu, l-problema xorta hi waħda kbira.

Qed jingħad li dak li kien assistant ta’ David Casa u oriġina din l-istorja tkeċċa mix-xogħol tiegħu (bħala assistant ta’ David Casa) għax kien qed ikun repetutament fis-sakra fuq ix-xogħol minħabba problemi kbar li kien qed jiffaċċa, fosthom kont ta’ mitt elf ewro ta’ arretrati ta’ taxxa fuq id-dħul. Anke dan għandu bżonn għajnuna kbira u mhux min jinqeda bih f’mumenti ta’ dgħjufija, irrispettivament minn jekk l-istorja hiex minna jew le! Dejjem sakemm ma sabx lil min ħallaslu jew ħafirlu l-kont tat-taxxa, kollu jew parti minnu!

Qed jissemmew diversi problemi inkluż li dan l-ex-assistent ta’ David Casa kien tkeċċa mis- segretarjat privat ta’ Austin Gatt fl-2002 meta l-Pulizja kien tellgħuh il-Qorti dwar negozju ta’ ċekkijiet f’munita barranija. Akkuża li, għandu jingħad, kien liberat minna.

Meta timpjega lil min ikun fid-dell ta’ dan it-taħwid f’postijiet sensittivi, x’tistenna? Mhux li xi darba jew oħra jdaħħluk f’xi basla?

Mill-karità għall-ġustizzja soċjali

Charity

Il-ġenerosità tal-poplu Malti hi kbira, kważi bla limitu. Dan jixhduh il-fondi li nġabru mill-Istrina għall-Community Chest Fund l-għada tal-Milied kif ukoll il-fondi li nġabru l-bieraħ b’risq id-Dar tal-Providenza.

Matul is-sena jinqalgħu diversi ċirkustanzi oħra li għalihom ukoll ikun hemm rispons tajjeb.

Huwa tajjeb li nagħmlu l-karità. Peró dan mhux biżżejjed.

Mill-karità irridu naslu għal ġustizzja soċjali iktar effettiva. Għas solidarjetà. Għax il-fatt li hemm il-ħtieġa ta’ din il-karità kollha ifisser bla ebda dubju li x-xibka tas-servizzi soċjali li għandu l-istat m’humiex jilħqu lil kulħadd.

Huwa neċessarju li flok ma naraw lill-Ministru tal-Finanzi fl-Istrina jippreżenta ċekk ta’ €60,000 mill-Fond tal-Kawżi Ġusti naraw żieda sostanzjali fil-fondi allokati lill-Ministeri tas-Saħħa u tas-Sigurtà Soċjali.

Imma jekk il-Gvernijiet ser jibqgħu jnaqqsu it-taxxa tad-dħul, dan ma jistax isir.

Gvern progressiv, minn dan kollu jasal għall-unika konklużjoni loġika: mill-karità jgħaddi għal ġustizzja soċjali iktar effettiva.

 

Sandro u l-politika tas-supermarkets

 

Sandro.big shops

 

Sandro Chetcuti jqis liż-żewġ partiti (l-kbar) bħala żewġt iħwienet (kbar) li fihom in-nies tal-business (u b’mod partikolari l-iżviluppaturi tal-MDA) jinqdew meta jkollhom bżonn. Ġieli jixtru mingħand wieħed u ġieli mingħand l-ieħor.  Skond x’ (policies) ikollhom għall-bejgħ. Min jixtri u min ibiegħ.

Forsi bla ma jrid, u mingħajr ma qagħad jomgħod il-kliem, Sandro poġġa sebgħu fuq il-ferita l-kbira fil-politika Maltija: il-politika tal-partiti l-kbar m’hiex ibbażata fuq dak li (suppost) jemmnu iżda fuq dak li jaħsbu li jista’ jġibilhom il-voti.

Allura għandna partit soċjalista li jitkellem u jaħdem kontra t-taxxa tad-dħul f’kompetizzjoni mal-konservattivi.

Il-konservattivi qatt ma kellhom ħeġġa biex jirrevedu l-paga minima. Imma li l-partit soċjalista (li jistħi jgħid li hu hekk) qiegħed attent idur u jdur biex jevita li jmiss mal-ħtieġa li jkun revedut il-basket li fuqu hi ibbażata l-paga minima, l-anqas titwemmen. Tinġieb elf skuża u tingħata elf spjegazzjoni għal dan.

Il-politika tas-supermarket li jħaddnu kemm il-Partit Nazzjonalista u l-Partit Laburista twassalhom biex fil-għodu jisfnu mal-ambjentalisti u waranofsinnhar jisfnu ma Sandro u sħabu. Hija politika tal-kuntrasti li jbikkuk.

Niftakar, snin ilu, lil min jirrakkonta storja dwar Membru Parlamentari Malti li tillustra din is-sitwazzjoni.

Dan il-Membru Parlamentari kienu kellmuh il-kumitat tal-każin tal-banda ta’ lokalità ewlenija fid-distrett elettorali tiegħu. Kienu inkwetati għax kellhom diffikultà dwar il-kamra tan-nar li dwarha kienu qed isibu opposizzjoni mill-bdiewa fl-inħawi.  Il-Membru Parlamentari irranġalhom appuntament mal-Ministru u għodwa waħda mar magħhom sal-Ministeru. Lil Ministru spjegalu kemm kien meħtieġ li jgħin lill-kostitwenti tiegħu li qed jagħtu kontribut kbir għall-ħajja soċjali  u kulturali fil-lokalità. Il-Ministru ħa nota u kemmex xuftejh.

Ftit ġranet wara, l-istess Membru Parlamentari kellu appuntament ieħor mal-istess Ministru. Din id-darba kien qed jakkumpanja delegazzjoni tal-bdiewa, irrabjati minħabba l-kamra tan-nar ippjanata għal ġo nofs ir-raba’ li jaħdmu.

(Ġrajja li tnissillek tbissima u li għalkemm kienu semmewli l-ismijiet tal-persuni involuti, mhux konvint li fil-fatt ġrat.)

Din hi l-politika tal-partiti l-kbar li jsemmi Sandro. Politika mhux ibbażata fuq dak li jemmnu, iżda fuq kif jingħoġbu. Il-politika ta’ kollox għal kulħadd ……….. bħall-ixkafef tas-supermarket.

Mhux budget ħażin …………. iżda budget sfukat

budget-briefcase

Segwejt il-budget u qrajt uħud mill-kummenti dwaru.  Il-budget mhux wieħed ħażin iżda huwa sfukat. Fih miżuri posittivi. Fih ukoll numru ta’ miżuri kontradittorji.

Meta tħares lejn l-estimi l-ewwel mistoqsija loġika hi dwar id-dħul li l-Gvern qiegħed jipproġetta. Billi f’Gunju li għadda d-dħul mill-VAT u t-taxxa tad-dħul kienu baxxi meta mqabbla ma dak proġettat, għadu mhux ċar jekk il-projezzjonijiet tad-dħul tal-Gvern għall-2014 humiex ottimisti ż-żejjed. Issa skont il-Ministru tal-Finanzi l-projezzjonijiet li fuqhom huwa bbażat il-budget ġew verifikati mill-Awditur Ġenerali. Dan għandu jserrħilna moħħna imma l-Ministru għandu jippubblika l-konklużjonijiet  tal-Awditur Ġenerali.

Inqis it-traħħis tal-kontijiet tad-dawl u l-ilma, l-bidu tal-proċess tal-ftuħ ta’ childcare centres b’xejn, l-emfasi fuq il-kunċett ta’ ‘making work pay’, kif ukoll il-proposti ta’ programmi w inċentivi għal żgħażagħ li la qegħdin fis-suq tax-xogħol u l-anqas jistudjaw fost il-miżuri pożittivi ewlenin tal-budget imressqa l-bieraħ mill-Ministru tal-Finanzi Edward Scicluna.

Madanakollu meta tħares lejn il-budget fit-totalita’ tiegħu Alternattiva Demokratika tħoss li  huwa sfukat u filwaqt li hemm ftit kliem fuq kollox, il-propost konkreti li fih huma ftit. Fih  ukoll numru ta’ kontradizzjonijiet.

F’xi oqsma m’hemmx direzzjoni ċara. Eżempju ta’ dan huwa fejn jidħlu l-awtoritajiet u l-kummissjonijiet, għax minflok jissimplifika l-amministrazzjoni l-Gvern qed jikkomplika l-affarijiet. F’pajjiz żgħir fid-daqs bħal Malta, minflok ma jkompli jikkonsolida l-awtoritajiet il-Gvern qed jerġa’ jisparpalja r-riżorsi bil-ħolqien ta’ awtoritajiet u kummissjonijiet ġodda. Eżempju ta’ dan huwa l-ħolqien tal- Awtorita dwar l-Avjazzjoni, liema qasam se jerga jinqata’ minn Transport Malta u dan wara li matul l-aħħar snin kienet seħħet il-konsolidazzjoni ta’ l-oqsma kollha konnessi mat-trasport f’Awtorita’ waħda . B’id waħda l-Gvern jipprietka kontra l-burokrazija u bl-oħra jkattarha.

Fil-budget il-Gvern jemfasizza l-bżonn tal-ħarsien tal-kosta, iżda imbagħad iħalli l-oxxenita ambjentali kbira tal-abbużi tal-bini illegali fuq art pubblika fl-Armier. Tisemmi emfasi fuq il-monitoraġġ tal-kwalita’ tal-arja imma fl-istess ħin ser jiżdied it-traffiku fil-Belt Valletta. Għax il-problema  tal-Belt Valletta mhiex ic-CVA imma in-nuqqas ta’ spazji għal parkeġġ u allura hu inutli illi l-karozzi jistgħu jidħlu bla ħlas wara is-2.00pm u nhar ta’ Sibt jekk spazju fejn jipparkjaw ma hemmx. L-uniku impatt li miżura bħal din ser ikollha fuq il-Belt hu ta’ karozzi jduru jfittxu fejn jipparkjaw bil-konsegwenza ta’ iktar emissjonjiet li bla dubju jkollhom impatt negattiv fuq il-kwalita’ tal-arja.

Dan iwassal għal konklużjoni loġika li tal-inqas għalissa l-Gvern qata’ qalbu li jkun hemm trasport pubbliku sura, anke lejn il-Belt. M’hemm l-ebda referenza għal inkoraggiment ta’ mezzi alternattivi ta’ trasport u lanqas ma jissemmew ideat dwar kif se titjieb s-sistema tat-trasport pubbliku. Il-budget jistaħba wara in-negozjati mal-Arriva li għadhom pendenti u fi stadju delikat.

Jidher ukoll li l-Gvern qata’ qalbu li għalissa jsolvi l-problema ta’ tfal li qed jitwasslu kmieni ħafna l-iskola. Is-soluzzjoni li ħareġ biha hija li joffri kolazzjon lit-tfal li jkun kmieni l-iskola. Dan flok ma ttanta li jfassal strateġija kredibbli li ssaħħaħ t-trasport lejn l-iskejjel.

Filwaqt li t-taxxi għal min jaqla’ l-aktar ikomplu jonqsu, l-persuni b’diżabilita se jibqgħu b’pensjoni miżera ta’ nofs il-paga minima. Fl-istess ħin il-paga minima, li tfisser li familji sħaħ jgħixu fil-periklu tal-faqar, se tibqa’ l-istess. Il-proposti tal-Caritas għal bidla fil-paga minima bħala strument ta’ għajnuna lill-kategoriji l-iktar vulnerabbli fis-soċjeta ġie injorat.  L-aġġustament għall-għoli tal-ħajja fil-paga minima jħalliha fl-istess ilma.

Għal Alternattiva Demokratika il-budget għaldaqstant m’huwiex wieħed negattiv iżda sfukat.

ippubblikat fuq iNews it-Tlieta 5 ta’ Novembru 2013

Id-diżonesta fiskali tal-Partit Laburista fil-Gvern

carrots

Fit-Times ta’ dal-għodu u fil-gazzetti l-oħra fi ġranet oħra hemm kumment dwar dak li ġej fil-budget li jmiss.

Waqt il-Kampanja Elettorali ta’ Marzu li għaddiet il-Labour Party ta’ Malta wiegħed li ser iwettaq dak li kien diga wiegħed il-PN fil-budget li ma kienx approvat u ċjoe li l-Income Tax tonqos.  Il-PN ukoll kien qiegħed iwiegħed li jwettaq dik il-wegħda.

Alternattiva Demokratika kienet iddikjarat dakinnhar li dan kollu kien falz. Kienu wegħdiet diżonesti tal-Partit Laburista u tal-PN għax jekk id-dħul tal-Gvern kien ser jonqos minħabba t-tnaqqis mit-taxxa tad-dħul il-Gvern ried ta’ bil-fors jikkumpensa b’xi mod ieħor:  jew billi jintroduċi taxxi ġodda inkella billi jnaqqas l-infieq. U billi l-infieq ma kienx jidher li ser jonqos bil-fors kellhom jiżdiedu t-taxxi.

Il-Partit Laburista dejjem wieġeb li ma kellux il-ħsieb li jżid it-taxxi għax l-ekonomija kienet ser tikber, qaluna. U jekk tikber l-ekonomija jiżdied id-dħul tal-Gvern, biżżejjed biex jagħmel tajjeb għat-tnaqqis tal-Income Tax.

Għal darba oħra issa Alternattiva Demokratika qed tingħata raġun.

Fil-budget li ser jipproponi l-Ministru Edward Scicluna f’Novembru li ġej ser jiżdiedu t-taxxi indiretti b’€50 miljun. Dawk it-taxxi jiġifieri li ma jiddependux fuq id-dħul tal-individwu. Mela l-partit politiku li jippretendi li hu progressiv naqqas taxxa progressiva li permezz tagħha jħallas iktar min jiflaħ l-iktar u minflok ser jagħtina taxxi li jħallashom kulħadd. Kemm min jiflaħ kif ukoll min ma jiflaħx.

Il-Partit Laburista Malti kien diżonest meta wiegħed li jnaqqas it-taxxa tad-dħul.

Nistennew u naraw x’inhu ġej.

Id-dilemma tal-Professur Edward Scicluna

scicluna + muscat

Waqt il-kampanja elettorali l-kelliema tal-Partit Nazzjonalista spiss ftaħru li l-finanzi tal-pajjiż kienu fis-sod. Kellhom ċertifikat, qalulna, mill-Unjoni Ewropeja li l-iżbilanċ finanzjarju kien taħt kontroll skond ir-regoli tal-EU (Il-Patt tat-Tkabbir u Stabilita’). B’ċertifikat li l-żbilanċ finanzjarju kien taħt it-3%, kienu repetutament jgħidulna, l-pajjiż kien finanzjarjament qabad it-triq it-tajba.

It-tweġiba ta’ Alternattiva Demorkatika dejjem kienet li aħna konna nieħdu pjaċir kieku l-finanzi tal-pajjiż kienu amministrati sewwa. Imma kollox kien jindika li l-affarijiet kienu differenti milli kienu qed jgħidu l-kelliema tal-Gvern: iċ-ċifri finanzjarja għal Diċembru 2012 kienu għadhom mhux pubblikati. Kollox kien jindika li meta dawn iċ-ċifri jkunu ippubblikati l-żbilanċ ser jerġa’ jisplodi.

Rapport  dal-għodu fl-Independent on Sunday jagħtina raġuna.

F’artiklu fl-ewwel paġna intitolat : Figures show 2012 public deficit redlining at 5.4% of GDP hu ċar li s-sena 2012 kienet sena oħra disżastruża għall-amministrazzjonji finanzjarja tal-pajjiż.

Waħda mill-kionsegwenzi loġiċi ta’ din l-aħbar hi li kienet irresponsabbilta’ għal Partit Nazzjonalista (li kellu iktar minn ħjiel ta’ din l-aħbar) li jwiegħed tnaqqis fit-taxxa tad-dħul. Alternattiva Demokratika biss qalitu dan waqt il-kampanja elettorali. Għax il-Partit Laburista ukoll ma kellux il-kuraġġ li jiffaċċa ir-realta.

U xi ngħidu għall-ħafna wegħdiet elettorali li jiswew flejjes kbar? Minn fejn ġejjin il-flus? Id-deficit li reġa’ kiber (fil-fatt kważi irdoppja) jfisser li mhux tnaqqis ta’ taxxi ser ikollna! Jew żieda ta’ taxxi inkella tnaqqis fl-infieq!

Issa?

X’ser jagħmel il-Professur Edward Scicluna l-Ministru tal-Finanzi?

Għandu l-kuraġġ jgħid li kemm il-PN kif ukoll il-PL għaddew lill-votanti biż-żmien?

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.

Dom: a giant surrounded by pygmies

Much has been written in the past days on Dom Mintoff. On his service to the nation. On his values. On his methods. On his achievements.

In what we write we ought to be respectful. Not just to Dom, the man and his memory. We must also respect  ourselves. We must be factual.

We cannot respect the man  if we have no self respect!

His first positive contribution was in the development of the tools of  social solidarity,  determined to ensure that all had access to the basic essentials. He did this initially with Sir Paul Boffa his predecessor as Labour Leader. It was Boffa who laid the foundations of the welfare state through the introduction of Old Age Pensions and Income Tax to finance them!  Years earlier Boffa had prodded Gerald Strickland through the Compact to construct St Luke’s Hospital.  Boffa has been sidelined in the past 50 years when in reality it was he who should get the credit for founding the welfare state in Malta. Dom built on Boffa’s solid foundations, widening and deepening social services in the process.

His second positive was his determination that independence be translated into Maltese absolute control of the islands and their strategic infrastructure. This contrasted with Borg Olivier’s more gradual approach.  His negotiations shocked the nation as it was the first time that a Maltese politician stood up and spoke what they had in mind. In his last mass meeting before the 1971 general elections, held  at Marsa,  Mintoff had stated in very clear terms what he had in mind. It was time for Britain to pay up or pack up.

Lord Carrington then Defence Secretary in Edward Heath’s Cabinet states in his memoirs that negotiating with Dom was tough business. He realised “that there was also calculation in every Mintoff mood.”  Mintoff’s moods noted Carrington, would alternate “between periods of civilised charm and spasms of strident and hysterical abuse.”

Dom also opened a third front. He rightly felt the need for a separation of Church and State. It was, and still is  an area which requires much attention. It was much worse 50 years ago with an unelected archbishop-prince wielding political power unwittingly aiding  the colonial masters. Divide and rule was the British policy in its colonies. This front has been the cause of various scars (political and social), still not sufficiently healed.  It was violence from unexpected quarters which multiplied the political problems which each government has had to tackle since.

In his endeavours Dom was undoubtedly influenced by his direct experiences.  His witnessing of abject poverty during his childhood, his youth and immediate post war years formed his vision for developing the welfare state which had been painfully plotted by Sir Paul Boffa.

Having a foreign power controlling any square metre of significance on the islands was too much to bear for someone with Dom’s temperament. His father’s employment in the service of Lord Louis Mountbatten undoubtedly added to the significance of it all and to his determination to make a clean sweep.

It would be dishonest to ignore the above.

It would be however similarly dishonest to ignore the fact that his stewardship was also characterised by arrogance and bullying. It was characterised by organs of the state which sought to protect abusive behaviour. The long list of cases wherein Dom’s government and his most trusted Ministers were found guilty of infringing human rights is there for all to see. None of them was ever forced to resign. This is also part of Dom’s contribution to the development of  post 1964 Malta.

Anyone ever tried to identify the number of victims, some with a one way ticket to l-Addolorata Cemetery?

Former Air Malta chairman Albert Mizzi in an interview carried in The Sunday Times on March 25, 2012 stated: “I remember one time when someone mentioned something to him about corruption. He turned to me and said, ‘is it true?’ I replied: ‘That what’s people are saying’. His response was: ‘What can I do if that person has helped me to build up the party? Can I take action against him?’ You see, this is small Malta.”

That is Dom, the giant surrounded by pygmies: those who helped him build his party and then proceeded to squeeze it dry until the pips squealed.

Respecting Dom also means self-respect. Respect  the facts.  When this is done we can give the man his due.

originally published at di-ve.com

On this blog you can read the following additional posts on Dom MINTOFF :

21st August 2012 : Dom’s legacy

21st August 2012 : Dom Mintoff

22nd June 2012 : Dom Mintoff fuq in-Net TV.

5th May 2012 : Dom Mintoff : a political bully.

23rd April 2012 : Thanks O Lord for giving us DOM.

1st April 2012: Should we thank Dom?

Environment Policy and the Budget

The National Environment Policy Issues Paper, launched by the Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Mario de Marco, on July 27 requested the views of the public on a move towards a taxation system that “penalises pollution rather than jobs”.

When launching the 2011 pre-Budget document on the same day, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech was more clear as to the government’s intentions. Under the heading Tax Shifting, he proposed the shifting of taxes from economic goods to economic bads. The pre-Budget document goes on to say: “In order to incentivise the creation of work by making labour less costly we are proposing the lowering of government-induced employee costs as well as corporate and income taxation.” The pre-Budget document then praises the merits of a carbon tax as a fiscal tool.

It seems that both the minister and the parliamentary secretary have forgotten that taxation does not penalise jobs. It is an instrument for the attainment of social solidarity. That is what the post-1977 Nationalist Party I remember was in favour of. It seems that time has changed the PN. It cannot be anymore described as being “un partito di centro che guarda a sinistra” (a party of the centre that looks to the left), as the old guard, quoting Alcide de Gasperi, justifiably boasted.

The drafters of the documents launched could have consulted the Cabinet-approved National Sustainable Development Strategy for the Maltese Islands (page 59), which established 2008 for the conclusion of a strategy on environmental taxation. The year 2008 is 32 months away and the strategy on the use of economic instruments to regulate environmental impacts is still not in place. Instead of asking for views of the public they should have drafted the strategy that has been promised but not delivered. It could be a useful guide for the finance minister.

At issue in this debate on tax shifting are points already emphasised during the eco-contribution legislation debate in 2004/05. Which ministry will be in the driving seat of environment taxation policy: Finance or the environment? Will the primary objectives of environment taxation be environmental or fiscal?

The strategy to be adopted and, thus, the specific proposals to be brought forward will depend on whether fiscal policy is used to regulate and reduce environmental impacts or whether the environment will be used to compensate for shortfalls in tax revenue.

After 17 years, the government has woken up to the proposals of a Jacques Delors EU White Paper in 1993 on growth, competitiveness and employment [COM (93) 700 final] who had the argued in favour of taxing environmental impacts and resource use.

In its 2008 electoral manifesto, the PN promised it will reduce income tax in the higher bands. It is now seeking ways to deliver without subjecting the Exchequer to further problems. It is very unfortunate that an inappropriate tool was selected. As a result of the tax shifting proposal, a tax, which is socially progressive (income tax) will be partially substituted with a carbon tax that, viewed on its own, can be socially regressive. The proposal aims to reduce taxation from a band which is paid mostly by companies and those who have a substantial income. To compensate for the resulting shortfall, it will spread the tax-load on everyone without discrimination, irrespective of their means.

Once the government decided on the reduction of the higher band income tax, I understand that it did not have much of a choice. In order to ensure a regular flow of income, which would have to substitute a reduction of the forfeited income tax, it had to select a subject in respect of which (at least, in the short term) demand is largely inelastic to tax-induced price changes.

It would be interesting if any studies on the impacts of the pre-Budget tax-shifting proposal are available. Such studies should clearly demonstrate the two basic flaws of the proposal: first it’s being socially regressive and, secondly, it’s exploiting of the environment as a tax revenue generator without ensuring environmental improvement as a primary objective.

If environmental improvement was a primary objective, the projected tax revenues would not be generated as they would be reduced gradually, in line with environmental improvement.

A carbon tax would force business and industry to address their environmental impacts. However, the impacts of a carbon tax on SMEs and households have to be assessed more carefully before policy declarations are made in view of the limited size of the former and the lack of resources of both. Given that most of Malta’s business is in the SME sector, matters should first be studied in their proper perspective before declarations are made or decisions taken.

There are various alternatives to the government’s proposals. Each one of them must however be tested through studies to ensure that the social and environmental impacts of fiscal policy are either positive or else substantially mitigated.

Studies made must be available at this stage. Otherwise, the discussions on both the National Environment Policy and the pre-Budget document would be just kite flying exercises.

 

published in The Times Saturday, September 4, 2010