Next Thursday’s earthquake

earthquake

 

This will be a simulation exercise coordinated by Malta’s Civil Protection Department at 4pm next Thursday in Gozo and three hundred people will be involved.

It will be carried out with EU assistance and in conjunction with the Civil Protection Authorities in Sicily who are partners with the Maltese Civil Protection Department (CPD) in establishing a network within the region that is able to manage seismological disasters.

This exercise signals the coming of age of Malta’s CPD. It has to date delivered sterling service in the areas of fire-fighting, managing pollution and providing assistance required as a result of flooding after heavy storms. Training its staff, and subjecting them to a gruelling simulation exercise, is a gigantic step forward for the CPD. It is the first step of a long journey that is dependent on the dedication of the CPD staff  – which is unlimited – as well as the resources allocated by the state. Such resources, although limited over the years, seem to be slowly trickling down, for a change.

Developing the CPD’s ability to handle disasters will be a major challenge. For a start it will identify its capability to develop effective coordination with the Police Force, with the AFM (Armed Forces) and the health authorities as well as with local councils.

At the end of the day the CPD’s proficiency in disaster management will be measured in terms of its response time as well as the number of lives it saves in such situations. This will generally depend on the severity of the disaster with which it is faced.

This will not only translate into a general level of preparedness. It will also require focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities and in this respect the role of local councils is indispensable. Specific protocols need to be developed and tested in conjunction with local councils regarding the assistance required by children and those who are bedridded or disabled. Catering for all disabilities is an indispensible prerequisite and it requires trained personnel to which the CPD currently has no access. It is an easily identifiable deficiency which needs to be addressed forthwith.

One small example would suffice: how would the CPD personnel, the police, the AFM – or the health authorities for that matter – communicate with persons with  impaired hearing in the absence of staff able to communicate in sign language? Addressing this deficiency is required not just to ensure that Malta is adequately prepared for disaster management. It is also an everyday deficiency that every authority in Malta that offers a direct service to the population at large needs to address. With around five hundred known Maltese with impaired hearing and a number of others who may have remained below the radar, this is an issue which is manageable primarily at a local level. Yet to date it has not been adequately prioritised.

In this context, one would also need to query the level of preparedness of institutions such as Mount Carmel Hospital and id-Dar tal-Providenza. I am informed that even when it comes to fire drills in residential homes for the elderly, the results were not impressive, to put it mildly.

Prompt and effective coordination between the different authorities is crucial in ensuring disaster management. There is a need to test how the different types of equipment used by the CPD, the Police and the AFM interact. Are they compatible? The planned simulation exercise is an opportunity to identify whether, in an actual practice run, matters will work out as planned. Lessons learned in this area will have to be translated into better procurement procedures in the future to ensure smooth interaction between the CPD, the police and the Army.

This will translate into compatible communication equipment as well as adequately maintained vehicles, sea craft and aeroplanes/helicopters which can be used in difficult circumstances. Knowing that maintenance of equipment has never been our forte, this could be quite a challenge!

The simulation exercise on Gozo on 3 September will necessarily lead to a number of lessons learnt which will have to be acted upon in order that Malta’s capability in disaster management is enhanced. This is definitely a bold step in the right direction.

I look forward to the next steps which require the involvement of local authorities.

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 30 August 2015

Advertisements

L-Università taż-Zonqor : bejn in-nies u tal-business!

Local%20CouncilMarsaskala logo

M’hemmx kuntrast fil-fehmiet espressi bejn il-Kunsilli Lokali ta’ Marsaskala u Birżebbuġa dwar il-Lukanda Amerikana taż-Żonqor.

Għax għalkemm il-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Marsaskala qabel mal-proġett, fil-fatt mhux il-proġett irid iżda l-faċilitajiet sportivi li hemm miegħu.  F’dan is-sens kienet kuraġġuża il-Viċi Sindku Desiree Attard li mhux biss wasslet il-fehma tan-nies iżda kellha l-kuraġġ li tagħmel dmirha u tpoġġi lir-residenti l-ewwel, qabel kulħadd.

Fir-realtà mela f’Marsaskala jaqblu ma’ Birżebbuġa, li ukoll ma jridux il-proġett għax bih Birżebbuġa ma tistax timxi l-quddiem.

Huwa tajjeb li l-Kunsilli Lokali jpoġġu lin-nies qabel il-business.

Local Councils, cleaning the financial mess

localcouncils

 

The National Audit Office, last December, published an unprecedented  report entitled “Report by the Auditor General on the workings of Local Government”. The 294 page document examines the financial statements pertaining to financial year 2013 and lists various shortcomings in the financial administration of local government.

During 2013, thirty seven of the local councils registered a deficit, whilst some councils did not follow the required procurement procedures. Some of these faults have their root cause in the fact that local councillors  are not trained adequately to handle their responsibilities. They require training, both before they contest an election  as well as after the election itself. They need to be made more aware of their responsibilities. Training of our local councillors (and more so mayors) is undoubtedly not an easy task. It is, in fact, quite a challenge.

There were also a number of policy decisions which, over the years, have not made matters any easier. Understandably, the Local Government Auditors do not examine the matter in any depth, as it falls outside their brief.

A case in point is the Public Private Partnership launched through Memo 45/2010 issued by the Department of Local Government on 22 March 2010. This initiative started off on a positive note. Government then decided  to attend to the issue of dilapidated roads, thereby tackling one of the major complaints in all localities.

Various funds were made available to local councils for this purpose. Additionally part of  the statutory allocation received by local councils annually was ring-fenced such that it was only usable for road works. These funds, according to Parliamentary Question 30314, replied to by the then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi on 21 November  2011, amounted to a total of €15 million and were made available to the  47 local councils which had expressed their interest and submitted the required application.

The problem however, was that Government only funded  30% of the expenses directly. The remaining 70 per cent of the required funds had to be disbursed by local councils from their own resources. These included savings made from road maintenance costs, which were justifiably rerouted to fund the resurfacing exercise.

The bottom line however, was that what should have been a central government responsibility in its entirety was shifted onto local councils, with central government only  footing 30 per cent of the bill when it should have forked out the remaining 70 too. Whilst at face value, a 30 per cent subvention may seem substantial, in reality, it was not.  Local councils were desperate to improve the state of the roads in their localities and most of them did not think twice about accepting government’s offer to carry out substantial road works in 2010 and 2011 and spreading the payment of their bills over 8 years, in line, with what was provided for in Memo 45/2010. It is this state of affairs that has led to the financial mess that a number of local councils find themselves in currently.  In fact, the National Audit Office reports that:  “during the 2013 financial year, 37 local councils registered a deficit.”

The point to be made is: is it ethical to place local councils in this position, such that councillors in 47 localities made budgetary commitments of local council finances for a period of 8 years? Councillors elected after 2011 in these 47 localities still had their statutory responsibilities but the financial resources  enabling them to honour their responsibilities were severely depleted. This is  governance at its worst, made worse only by the fact that it was officially sanctioned by the government of the day.

Local councils have very little resources to work with.  The minute budgetary increase voted by Parliament for the current financial year is obviously welcome, but in no way does it compensate for the exponential increase in costs incurred by local councils throughout the past years.

Its fine to insist that local ouncils should ensure that those providing them with services deal properly with their employees. However, to be in a better position to ensure that contractors utilising labour subject to precarious employment conditions are not engaged by local councils it stands to reason that local councils must be able to offer attractive rates of pay.  Otherwise, it will be more of the same procurement exercises, leading to the acceptance of the cheapest bidder.  The cheapest bidder, more often than not, is able to submit the lowest  bid due to its low labour costs.

Local councils have very clear and specific responsibilities. They can only shoulder them if councillors are properly trained and the councils adequately funded.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 15 February 2015

Wara Ralph Cassar u Marco Spiteri ……….

Shut-Up

Wara li l-FKNK ilmentaw minn kummenti ta’ Ralph Cassar (AD) u Marco Spiteri (PN) kunsilliera f’Ħ’Attard, il-Bord tal-Governanza tal-Kunsilli Lokali intervjena immedjatament.

Fil-kummenti tagħhom Ralph Cassar u Marco Spiteri qalu li fir-referendum abrogattiv li ser isir nhar il-11 t’April 2015 huma ser jivvutaw kontra l-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa. Għandhom opinjoni u kienu kapaċi jesprimuha. Għax esprimew l-opinjoni tagħhom fuq il-facebook page tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħ’Attard jidher li tal-FKNK iddarsu u ilmentaw mas-Segretarju Parlamentari nkarigat mill-Kunsilli Lokali. Kitbu lil Josè Herrera flok ma kitbu lil Stefan Buontempo!

F’deċiżjoni li ta’ l-bieraħ, il-Bord tal-Governanza Lokali ddeċieda li l-Kunsilliera Lokali mhux biss għandhom “dritt” talli fuq kollox għandhom ukoll “id-dmir” illi jiftħu ħalqhom u jsemmgħu leħinhom.

Il-Kunsilliera Lokali, qal Dr Joe Mifsud, President tal-Bord ta’ Governanza Lokali, huma rapprezentanti tal-pubbliku, u l-pubbliku għandu dritt li jkun jaf kif jaħsbuha r-rappreżentanti tiegħu.

Ta’ l-inqas, għand hawn min għandu moħħu f’postu f’dan il-pajjiż.

Imma Kunsilliera hawn ħafna iżjed. Ikun tajjeb li wara Cassar u Spiteri jkun hemm iżjed li jsemmgħu leħinhom.  Mhux jibqgħu ħalqhom magħluq kif iriduhom tal-FKNK.

Nies bħal Quinton min qed jagħtihom l-arja?

Quinton Scerri

 

Il-Bord ta’ Governanza Lokali immexxi mill-Avukat Joe Mifsud għadu kif ikkonkluda investigazzjoni dwar il-Kunsill ta’ Ħaż-Żabbar.  Nhar it-Tlieta 8 ta’ Lulju 2014 ippubblika r-rapport bil-konklużjonijiet tiegħu.

Il-konklużjonijiet huma ta’ serjeta’ kbira u juru li għad hawn min għad m’għandux idea dwar ir-responsabbiltajiet li għandu is-Sindku u r-responsabbiltajiet li għandu s-Segretarju (jew is-Segretarja) fil-Kunsilli Lokali.

Is-Sindku hu l-politiku u flimkien mal-Kunsilliera kollha għandu l-obbligu li jfassal il-policies u jieħu d-deċiżjonijiet biex tinġieb il-quddiem il-Lokalita. Is-Segretarju/a min-naħa l-oħra m’huwiex qiegħed hemm biex jiddeċiedi iżda biex jimplimenta d-deċiżjonijiet tal-Kunsill kif ukoll biex jara li dawn id-deċiżjonijiet ikunu jaqblu ma dak li jgħidu il-liġijiet u r-regolamenti.

Ir-rapport dwar il-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħaż-Żabbar iqabbadni l-bard. Li ġġib ħafna voti ma jagħtik l-ebda dritt li tikkunsidra lilek innifsek il-fuq mil-liġi. Iġġib kemm iġġib voti xorta għandek l-obbigu li timxi mar-regolamenti finanzjarji. Jekk is-Segretarju/a tal-Kunsill jiġbidlek l-attenzjoni li ċertu affarijiet ma tistax tagħmilhom ifisser li trid tieqaf u jekk ikun hemm bżonn tagħmel il-verifiki u mhux tibqa’ għaddej qiesek bulldowzer.

Mhux ta’ b’xejn li Quinton irreżenja minn Sindku u mill-Kunsill ta’ Ħaż-Żabbar ftit minuti wara li ħareġ ir-rapport.

Osservazzjoni f’waqtha tar-rapport dwar il-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħaż-Żabbar hi din:

“Minħabba li dan l-istharriġ beda wara li sar rapport minn Partit Politiku, il-Bord iħossu fid-dmir li jindirizza lill-Partiti Politiċi dwar għażliet ta’ kandidati sabiex jikkontestaw għall-elezzjonijiet tal-Kunsilli Lokali.

Il-Partiti li jagħżlu kandidati sabiex joħroġu f’isimhom għandhom jagħmlu skrutinju aktar sever fuqhom qabel jippreżentawhom bħala kandidati tagħhom.

Ma jfissirx li għax ikollok persuna popolari ħafna kif kien f’dan il-każ, dan ikun idejali u adekwat għall-kariga ta’ Kunsillier u wisq iktar ta’ Sindku. Min jikkontesta elezzjoni għall-Kunsill Lokali għandu jkun team player u mhux jaħdem għal rasu u ‘l fuq minn dak li tipprovdi l-liġi.”

Fid-dawl ta’ dan ta’ min jistaqsi: nies bħal Quinton min qed jagħtihom l-arja?

____________________

ara ukoll fuq dan il-blog: Wara San Pawl il-Baħar u l-Munxar……………. qed iberraq f’Ħaż-Żabbar

Kunsilli Lokali: elezzjoni kull ħames snin

localcouncils

 

Il-Gvern qed jipproponi li jestendi t-terminu tal-Kunsilli Lokali b’mod li l-elezzjoni tibda issir kull ħames snin mal-elezzjoni għall-Parlament Ewropew.

Naqbel perfettament tant li fl-2008 meta Alternattiva Demokratika issottomettiet proposti għal riforma tal-Kunsilli Lokali għamlet eżattament din il-proposta. Dakinnhar il-Kunsilli Lokali kellhom ħajja ta’ tlett snin.

Fl-2008, f’dokument datat 11 ta’ Settembru 2008 AD kienet ipproponiet dan li ġej:

“Alternattiva Demokratika taqbel illi l-atmosfera ta’ elezzjoni permanenti li hawn fil-pajjiż in parti minħabba l-elezzjoni kull sena ta’ terz mill-Kunsilli Lokali m’hiex posittiva. Il-perjodu ta’ tlett snin li għalih huwa elett Kunsill Lokali huwa meqjus ukoll bħala ftit qasir u għandu jitwal. AD taqbel li t-terminu tal-Kunsilli Lokali għandu jiżdied għal ħames snin biex l-elezzjoni tagħhom tkun tista’ tibda issir flimkien mal-elezzjoni tal-Parlament Ewropew. B’hekk ikun hemm elezzjoni waħda f’Malta u Għawdex għall-Kunsilli Lokali kollha darba kull ħames snin.”

Il-Gvern, dakinnhar ma kienx qabel mal-proposta ta’ AD.

Wara San Pawl il-Baħar u l-Munxar……………. qed iberraq f’Ħaż-Żabbar

Zabbar.l-itwal mejda

L-istorja tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar għadha friska.

Kunsillier tefa’ l-offerta għal Works Manager, meta dan ma jistax isir mhux biss għax mhiex imġieba korretta, imma ukoll għax il-liġi dan tobbliga li ma jsirx.

Il-Kunsillier involut refa’ ir-responsabbilta ta’ dak li ġara u irreżenja. Ma nafx kemm kellu jerfa’ ir-responsabbilta’ hu biss. Għax fil-waqt li veru li huwa mexa ħażin, naqas ukoll is-Sindku tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar li b’għoxrin sena esperjenza fil-Kunsilli ma nistax nifhem kif ma ndunax. Huwa responsabbli ukoll is-Segretarju Eżekuttiv li messu induna mill-ewwel, iżda ma ndunax. Meta rreżenja l-Kunsillier għaldaqstant ftit issolvew affarijiet. Għax min messu induna u żamm l-iżball milli jsir għadu ma refax ir-responsabbilta’ tiegħu.

Issa tfaċċa l-każ tal-Munxar. Fejn skoprew li l-kuntrattur li ħa l-offerta għadda din l-offerta (b’sub-contract) lil wieħed mill-kunsilliera tal-istess Kunsill! Flok mill-bieb dan għadda mit-tieqa.

Jidher li hemm iktar affarijiet għaddejja.

Qiegħed iberraq f’Ħaż-Żabbar. Għaddej xi ħaġa bejn is-Sindku w is-Segretarju Eżekuttiv tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħaż-Żabbar. Jidher li is-Segretarju Eżekuttiv bi snin ta’ esperjenza qiegħed attent li l-ħidma tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħaż-Żabbar timxi sewwa, mar-regoli. Imma f’waħda minn l-aħħar laqgħat tal-Kunsill Lokali kien hemm ilment mis-Sindku li d-deċiżjonijiet qed idumu wisq ma jitwettqu. Is-Segretarju Eżekuttiv qiegħed fil-mira tal-attakki fid-deher u fl-imwarrab. Qaluli li qed jinġabru xi firem ukoll kontra dan is-Segretarju Eżekuttiv .

Hawn min rasu qed tikbirlu malajr. Il-ħidma tal-Kunsilli Lokali ma tistax issir jekk ma timxi bl-ordni u f’rispett sħiħ tar-regoli. B’mod partikolari ir-regoli ta’ kif isir l-infieq.

Is-Segretarju Parlamentari għall-Kunsilli Lokali u l-Kultura, José Herrera, jidher li ser ikollu x’jagħmel mhux ħażin.

Min għandu jifhem ħa jifhem.

José Herrera jiġbidlu l-ispaga

Jose Herrera

Naqbel mad-deċiżjoni li ħa s-Segretarju Parlamentari José Herrera meta ordna lid-Direttur tal-Kunsilli Lokali biex dan jagħti struzzjonijiet lill-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar li hu meħtieġ li dan jirrevoka d-deċiżjoni tiegħu li jaħtar Kunsillier minn fostu bħala Works Manager tal-lokalita’ ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar.

Is-Segretarju Parlamentari aġixxa korrettement biex jassigura tmexxija ghaqlija, trasparenti u kontabbli. Tmexxija li tosserva dak li tistabilixxi l-liġi tal-Kunsilli Lokali.

Is-Segretarju Parlamentari José Herrera kien l-aħħar linja ta’ difiża li kellha il-komunita’ ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar għax is-saffi l-oħra ta’ difiza jirriżultaw li fallew u ma ħadmux.

Fallew milli jaqdu dmirhom il-kunsilliera infushom li issa qed jirriżulta li ħadd minnhom ma kellu konoxxenza tal-obbligi tagħhom. Ħadd minnhom ma oġġezzjona. L-Kunsilliera Laburisti kollha ivvutaw favur. Dawk tal-PN astjenew. Ħadd minnhom ma semma leħnu u ġibed l-attenzjoni  li kienet qed isseħħ irregolaritá bil-ħatra ta’ kunsillier bħala works manager.

L-anqas ma mexa sewwa il-proċess tal-aġġudikazzjoni tal-offerti . F’dan l-istadju l-offerta tal-Kunsillier kellha tkun meqjusa bhala inammissibli. Dan ifisser li min ħa sehem f’dan il-proċess ma jifhimx.

L-anqas ma qeda dmiru s-Segretarju Ezekuttiv tal-Kunsill Lokali li wera b’dan il-każ li ma kellux għarfien adegwat tar-regoli tal-Kunsilli Lokali. Jekk ma jafx dawn l-affarijiet x’qiegħed jagħmel bħala Segretarju Eżekuttiv tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar?

Falla ukoll id-Direttur tal-Kunsilli Lokali li kellu l-obbligu li jintervjeni fil-każ mill-ewwel minghajr ma jkun hemm il-ħtieġa li s-Segretarju Parlamentari  jagħmilha ta’ suġġeritur.

Fortunatament il-Kunsilli  Lokali li jaġixxu b’dan il-mod huma ftit fil-għadd.

Minn dan il-każ ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar nistgħu naslu għal numru ta’ konklużjonijiet.  Hemm bżonn urġenti li kemm il-Kunsilliera kif ukoll is-Segretarji Eżekuttivi jkunu mħarrġa aħjar biex jagħrfu jaqdu sewwa r-responsabbiltajiet tagħhom. Huwa meħtieġ ukoll li  l-proċess tal-aġġudikazzjoni tal-offerti jkun afdat f’idejn persuni kompetenti  kif ukoll li jkun hemm iktar nies imħarrġa fil-lokalitajiet biex jaqdu din il-funzjoni. B’hekk il-Kunsilli Lokali jkunu assigurati li jkollhom pariri mingħand persuni  li jifhmu.

Fl-aħħarnett huwa  meħtieġ  li d-Direttur tal-Kunsilli Lokali jkun iktar proattiv u jkun lest li jiċċaqlaq mingħajr il-ħtieġa li jiġbidlu l-ispaga José Herrera .

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (16) Election of the Republic’s President

president-of-malta-flag-over-blue-sky

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

The President of the Republic should be elected by an electoral college made up of all Members of Parliament and all elected Mayors of the 68 localities . The widening of the franchise would ensure a wider acceptance of the selected Head of State.

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

Il-President tar-Repubblika għandu jkun elett minn kulleġġ elettorali magħmul mill-Membri Parlamentari kollha u mis-sindki eletti kollha tat-68 lokalita. It-twessigħ ta’ din l-approvazzjoni jista’ jiżgura li jiġi aċċettat aktar il-kap tal-istat li jingħażel.

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (12) The Role of the Community

sos hondoq

The following extract is taken verbatim from Chapter 14 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

The Role of the Community.
Various controversies have arisen on the impacts of large projects on the community. Reference is being made for example to the Sant’ Antnin Waste Recycling Plant, the touristic development at Ħondoq ir-Rummien, the extension of the Delimara Power Station, the extension of the Freeport and the mega projects referred to as the MIDI and the Fort Cambridge projects at Tigne Sliema.
In each of the above mentioned examples the community spoke up both directly as well as through civil society. In such cases AD is proposing that after the responsible authority would have processed the development application the community should have the right to express its opinion as to whether the project should proceed. This will be carried out through a local referendum called after a pre-identified number of registered voters make a request in line with the requirements of legislation or else through a call made by the Local Council on behalf of the community.
A project shall be submitted for the community’s consideration in a referendum after all the relative studies would have been concluded as well after the said studies would have been available for a reasonable time for all those wishing to peruse them.
However in the case of infrastructural projects of national importance it shall be possible for Parliament (which represents the whole community at a national level) to intervene and take a final decision after ascertaining that the objections of the local community have been addressed.

L-Estratt segwenti hu mehud kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 14 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Rwol tal-Komunità.
Diversi kontroversji jqumu dwar l-impatti fuq il-komunità ta’ proġetti kbar bħal dak tal-Impjant tar-Riċiklaġġ tal-Iskart f’Sant Antnin, tal-iżvilupp turistiku f’Ħondoq ir-Rummien, l-estensjoni tal-Power Station f’Delimara, l-estensjoni tal-Port Ħieles jew il-megaproġetti magħrufa bħala l-proġetti tal-MIDI u ta’ Fort Cambridge f’Tigné, Tas-Sliema.
F’kull wieħed minn dawn il-każijiet il-komunità semmgħet leħinha kontra dawn il-proġetti kemm direttament kif ukoll permezz tas-soċjetà ċivili. F’każijiet ta’ din ix-xorta AD qed tipproponi li wara li l-awtorità responsabbli tkun ipproċessat applikazzjoni għal proġett ta’ żvilupp, il-komunità għandu jkollha d-dritt tesprimi ruħa dwar jekk il-proġett jipproċedix, u dan permezz ta’ referendum lokali li jissejjaħ wara li jinġabru l-firem tar-residenti skond il-liġi, inkella b’talba tal-Kunsill Lokali f’isem il-komunità.
Proġett għandu jiġi ppreżentat għal deċizjoni popolari wara li jkunu ġew konklużi l-istudji kollha relattivi kif ukoll wara li l-istess studji jkunu aċċessibli għal żmien raġjonevoli għal kull min ikun irid jaqrahom. F’każ ta’ proġetti infrastrutturali u ta’ importanza nazzjonali għandu jkun possibli għall-Parlament (li jirrappreżenta lill-komunità fuq livell nazzjonali) illi wara li jassigura ruħu illi l-ilmenti tal-komunità lokali jkunu indirizzati, jintervjeni u jieħu deċiżjoni finali.