Il-qżież ta’ Austin Gatt

Il-proċess tal-privatizzazzjoni tal-parking areas f’numru ta’ lokalitajiet f’Malta hu riżultat tal-qżież ta’ Austin Gatt u tal-akkolti tiegħu. Li jinjoraw lil kulħadd. Jidhrilhom li dak li jiddeċiedu huma ben fatt.

Fi stqarrija li ħarġet Alternattiva Demkokratika l-bieraħ fil-għaxija għidna li kien kundannabbli li Transport Malta għal darba oħra injorat lill-Kunsilli Lokali meta pprocediet bi process li jista’ jwassal ghall-privatizzazzjoni ta’ parkeggi diversi fil-lokalitajiet. Is-sens komun kien jitlob li kellhom ikunu l-Kunsilli Lokali li jingħataw ir-responsabbilta’ għall-amministrazzjoni tal-parkeggi.

Ma saret l-ebda konsultazzjoni mal-Kunsilli Lokali dwar il-materja u dan kontra dak li tipprovdi l-liġi dwar il-Kunsilli Lokali li tesiġi l-konsultazzjoni ma’ Kunsill Lokali dwar kull materja li teffettwa l-lokalita.

Alternattiva Demokratika taqbel mal-mozzjoni mressqa mill-Opposizzjoni fil-Parlament li twaqqaf il-process tal-privatizzazzjoni tal-parkeggi u titlob li jinghata bidu għal konsultazzjoni pubblika bl-iskop li jkunu involuti l-Kunsilli Lokali.

Kien floku l-appoġġ għal din il-mozzjoni kemm ta’ Franco Debono kif ukoll ta’ Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando.

Waqt id-diskussjoni fil-Kumitat tax-Xogħol tal-Kamra (iktar kmieni illum) Franco Debono qal li hu kien fi ħsiebu jressaq emenda biex il-mozzjoni tinbidel f’waħda ta’ sfiduċja f’Austin Gatt. Naqbel miegħu 100% għax il-qżież ta’ Austin Gatt għandu jkun iċċensurat bla ebda riżerva.

Malta’s Nine Ghost Towns

The 2005 Census had revealed that 53,136 residential units in Malta were vacant. This was an increase of 17,413 units over the 35,723 vacant residential units identified during the 1995 Census. Faced with an increase of over 48 per cent in 10 years, a responsible government would have contained the development boundaries as existing supply can satisfy the demand for residential accommodation for many years to come.

In 2006, just nine months after the 2005 Census, the Nationalist Party-led Government defied common sense and, instead of applying the brakes, it further increased the possibilities for building development through three specific decisions. Through the rationalisation process, the PN-led Government extended the boundaries of development in all localities. Then it facilitated the construction of penthouses by relaxing the applicable conditions. If this were not enough, it increased the height limitations in various localities, intensifying development in existing built-up areas.

As a result of increasing the permissible heights, sunlight was blocked off low-lying residential buildings in the affected areas.

These residences were using sunlight to heat water through solar water heaters or to generate electricity through photovoltaic panels installed on their rooftops.

They can now discard their investments in alternative energy thanks to the PN-led Government’s land use policies!

The result of these myopic land use planning policies further increased the number of vacant properties, which is estimated as being in excess of 70,000 vacant residential units. (Mepa chairman Austin Walker, in an interview in June 2010, had referred to an estimated 76,000 vacant residential properties.)

The estimated total of vacant residential properties is equivalent to nine times the size of the residential area of Birkirkara, the largest locality in Malta, which, in 2005, had 7,613 residential units.

These ghost towns over the years have gobbled up resources to develop or upgrade an infrastructure that is underutilised. Spread all over the Maltese islands, these ghost towns have required new roads, extending the drainage system, extending the utility networks and street lighting as well as various other services provided by local councils.

The funds channelled to service ghost towns could have been better utilised to upgrade the infrastructure in the existing localities over the years.

The above justifies calls for an urgent revision of development boundaries through a reversal of the 2006 rationalisation exercise where land included for development in 2006 is still uncommitted.

Similarly, the relaxation of height limitations and the facilitated possibility to construct penthouses should be reversed forthwith.

All this is clearly in conflict with the efforts being made by the Government itself, assisted with EU funds, to increase the uptake of solar water heaters and photovoltaic panels.

I am aware of specific cases where decisions to install photovoltaic panels have had to be reversed as a result of the development permitted on adjacent property subsequent to the 2006 height relaxation decisions.

In its electoral manifesto for the forthcoming election, AD, the Green party, will be proposing a moratorium on large-scale development in addition to the reversal of the above policies as it is unacceptable that the construction industry keeps gobbling up land and, as a result, adding to the stock of vacant property.

The market has been unable to deal with the situation and, consequently, the matter has to be dealt by a government that is capable of taking tough decisions in the national interest.

Neither the PN nor the Labour Party are capable of taking such decisions as it has been proven time and again that both of them are hostages to the construction industry.

The slowdown of the activities of the construction industry is the appropriate time to consider the parameters of its required restructuring. It is clear that the construction industry has to be aided by the State to retrain its employees in those areas of operation where lack of skills exist.

There are three such areas: traditional building trades, road construction and maintenance as well as marine engineering.

Traditional building skills are required primarily to facilitate rehabilitation works of our village cores and to properly maintain our historical heritage. Our roads require more properly-trained personnel so that standards of road construction and maintenance are improved and works carried out in time. Our ports and coastal defences require a well-planned maintenance programme and various other adaptation works as a result of the anticipated sea-level variations caused by climate change.

The construction industry employs about 11,000 persons. It is imperative that its restructuring is taken in hand immediately.

In addition to halting more environmental damage, a long overdue restructuring will also serve to mitigate the social impacts of the slowdown on the families of its employees through retraining for alternative jobs both in the construction industry itself and elsewhere.

The so-called ‘social policy’ of the PN and the PL have neglected these families for years on end.

 

published in The Times on 29 September 2012

Ħofra fit-triq: il-Kunsill Lokali għandu jħallas l-ispejjes

 

Il-Kunsilli Lokali issa jridu jagħtu iżjed każ tal-ħofor fit-triq.

It-Tribunal għat-Talbiet iż-Żgħar ordna lill-Kunsill ta’ Ħal-Balzan biex iħallas danni ta’ €180 lil persuna li spiċċat b’tyre tal-karozza li kellu jinbidel wara li r-rota tal-karozza spiċċat f’ħofra ftit fonda fil-wied ta’ Ħal-Balzan.

Il-każ ġara nhar it-18 ta’ Jannar 2012 u l-ħofra ma kienitx tidher għax kienet mimilja bl-ilma tax-xita. Il-Kunsill Lokali, irrappurtat it-Times online tal-lejla mhux biss naqas li jieħu ħieb adequat tat-tiswijiet meħtieġa fit-triq talli naqas ukoll li  javża lis-sewwieqa b’sinjali ħdejn il-ħofra.

Din hi deċiżjoni importanti li l-Kunsilli Lokali kollha għandhom jagħtu każ.

Forsi xi darba kulħadd jibda jerfa’ r-responsabbiltajiet tiegħu.

 

Greening our Communities

 

Alternattiva Demo­kratika will be fielding 10 candidates for next week’s local council elections. While many valid candidates are contesting these elections, the debate has focused on councillors who have created a mess. Topping the list are Sliema and Mosta who have let their electors down.

In Sliema, infighting, administrative irregularities and allegations of corruption (now under investigation) are surely not what electors voted for when they chose the candidates presented in 2009 by the Nationalist Party. The operation of the Sliema council over the past three years proves that in selecting its candidates the PN does not always consider competence as a primary criterion. The dissolution of the Sliema council was an appropriate step. It could, however, have been taken much earlier.

On March 10, electors will be called to clean up the mess created by Labour at Mosta where infighting has led to an ineffective council. I hasten to add that, notwithstanding the above, this council had quite a headache to bring its finances in order, an inheritance bequeathed by a 13-year PN council administration. Administrative incompetence at Mosta dates back to the first council that overspent its financial allocation, passing on the unsettled bills to subsequent councils. The unsettled bills surpassed the €1million mark!

The PN-led government has played a game of political chess at Mosta, tolerating infighting that led the council to miss meetings for five consecutive months. This should have led to its dissolution ages ago, thereby permitting the community to immediately replace those who could not deliver. By not dissolving the council, the government placed its political advantage before the interests of the Mosta community.

Last week, in an article in The Malta Independent, entitled The Way Ahead For Local Councils, Nationalist MP Robert Arrigo identified another serious issue. He spoke of instances where sitting MPs invest in the election of local councillors hoping that, upon election, they would have their protégés in place. It is very positive that Mr Arrigo emphasises that he will keep himself at arm’s length from direct involvement in the local elections in his constituencies.

Maybe it is also time to consider whether those employed in the private secretariats of holders of political office should be precluded from contesting local council elections.

AD has already had the opportunity to criticise Directive 5 issued by the Principal Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister dealing with the participation of public officers in politics. While the most pressing issue, the right of public officers below salary scale five to contest local council elections without being required to take forced unpaid leave was resolved, there are additional matters that need to be tackled. Directive 5 needs extensive revision.

AD’s local council electoral programme places community identity and basic community services as the focal point of its mission statement. Local councils exist to serve and protect local communities, yet, various local councils have remained silent when faced with rampant over-development, which has devoured precious spaces in our towns and villages. The Mosta local council, for example, was conspicuously absent in the Wied il-Għasel debate. Residents have only been supported by AD and environmental NGOs.

Similarly, in Sliema, the local council has lost its voice on issues of over-development. It’s been ages since it spoke up on behalf of Sliema residents who feel trampled upon by so-called “developers” who have taken over Sliema, which is nowadays a permanent construction site!

Another case focused on by AD is the impact on residents of a quarry at Wied Inċita, Attard, which is too close for comfort to the residential area. Illegal developments have taken place in the quarry and, notwithstanding that it has been reformed (!), alerted and reminded of the issue many a time, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority has let the quarry operators free to do as they please. Minister Jason Azzopardi is probably unaware that part of the quarry is government owned! AD has also drawn attention to the development that Mepa recently approved on Manoel Island. Building about 500 apartments together with other structures on Manoel Island is not a good omen!

Over-development has led to the current glut, quantified at 53,000 vacant residential units in 2005 and now estimated to surpass the 70,000 mark. This glut strains the local councils’ budget for the upkeep of localities as, in fact, it means that services are unnecessarily stretched to service ghost towns! Vacant residential property in Malta adds up to nine times the size of Birkirkara!

The election of green local councillors on March 10 will ensure that environmental issues will be at the top of the local councils’ agenda. For it is through tackling environmental issues at a local level that the quality of life of our communities takes a leap forward. Experience has shown time and again that this only happens when green local councillors are elected.

Green is the colour of real change.

 

originally published in The Times, March 3, 2012

Id-Direttiva tal-Mistħija : l-aħħar Att

 

Dal-għodu kont infurmat bit-telfon li xtaq jiltaqa’ miegħi Dr Godwin Grima is-Segretarju Permanenti Ewlieni li hu ibbażat f’Kastilja. Xtaq jiltaqa’ miegħi dwar id-Direttiva Numru 5, dik li jiena iddeskrivejt bħala d-Direttiva tal-mistħija.

Fil-fatt iltqajt ma Dr Grima illum fl-4.00 pm. Kont akkumpanjat mill-kollega tiegħi l-Professur Arnold Cassola.

Dr Grima qalli li id-Direttiva qed tkun interpretata ħażin għax l-intenzjoni dejjem kienet li l-kandidat ikollu d-dritt li jagħżel hu jekk waqt il-kampanja elettorali għall-Kunsilli Lokali jibqax jaħdem, jużax il-leave tiegħu jew jagħmilx użu minn leave bla ħlas.

Jiena ġbidt l-attenzjoni ta’ Dr Grima li fil-waqt li l-intenzjoni tiegħu kienet waħda nobbli l-kliem tad-Direttiva kien jgħid mod ieħor.

Qrajtlu din il-biċċa :

“ ……… so however that in each of the three cases, the prospective candidate has no option but to avail himself/herself of unpaid electoral leave for an uninterrupted period of at least 15 working days ….” (ara paragrafu 4.1 tad-dokument hawn anness)

Din ma tikkorrispondix mal-intenzjonijiet tiegħek, Dr Grima, għidtlu.

Dr Grima qalli li għandi raġun u wegħdni li ser jieħu ħsieb li jikklarifika l-affarijiet.

Din hi l-istorja kollha. Issa jekk kienx żball ġenwin jew xi ħaġa oħra ma nafx.

L-importanti li Alternattiva Demokratika indunat filwaqt li ħaddieħor li hu mħallas biex ikun imqajjem baqa’ rieqed (per eżempju l-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Kunsilli Lokali).

Direttiva tal-Mistħija

Id-Direttiva li ħareġ is-Segretarju Permanenti Ewlieni f’l-Uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru dwar l-impenn politiku fil-Kunsilli Lokali hi tal-mistħija.

Din id-Direttiva hi immirata lejn l-impenn ta’ dawk li jaħdmu fis-settur pubbliku. Ħarġet inkiss inkiss tant li ftit kienu dawk li jafu biha.

Dawk li qegħdin fi grad minn skala 5 (jew ekwivalenti) il-fuq m’humiex effettwati. Ma kienx possibli għalihom li jinvolvu ruħhom u hekk baqgħu. Il-bqija setgħu imma issa għandhom id-diffikulta li jridu joħorġu bil-leave.

Id-direttiva titkellem dwar leave bla ħlas għal ħmistax-il jum tax-xogħol.

Min huwa dipendenti fuq il-paga ser ikun ikkastigat talli qed joffri servizz volontarju lill-komunita. Qed ikun ikkastigat tal-impenn tiegħu fil-ħajja pubblika. Min għandu familja x’jgħajjex u loans xi jħallas ma jistax jagħmel is-sagrifiċċju finanzjarju li d-Direttiva qed titlob minnu.

Il-bieraħ fi stqarrija inbidlet ftit id-diska u qiegħed jingħad li flok leave bla ħlas il-ħaddiema tas-settur pubbliku li jikkontestaw għall-Kunsilli Lokali jkunu jistgħu jutilizzaw il-leave annwali tagħhom. Dan mhux tajjeb biżżejjed għax ifisser li ser ikunu mitluba jużaw prattikament il-leave kollu tagħhom għal sena sħiħa. B’hekk ser jitqegħdu f’posizzjoni li jnaqqsu l-ħin tal-mistrieħu tagħhom mal-familji tagħhom. Dan minn Gvern li jipprietka ħafna favur il-familji.

Ma ntqal xejn kif ser jintlaqtu dawk li m’għandhomx leave, bħall-għalliema. Dawn m’għandhomx leave annwali u huma kkumpensati bil-vakanzi tal-iskejjel fil-Milied, l-Għid u fis-sajf.

Min ħa d-deċiżjoni li wasslet għal din id-Direttiva qed jattakka l-impenn politiku taċ-ċittadin iż-żgħir li qiegħed jimpenja ruħu fl-egħruq tal-komunita’.

Dan hu attakk fl-egħruq demokratiċi tal-pajjiż.

Istħu. Jekk tafu kif.

Il-Kunsilli Lokali : qed nagħtu kas tagħhom ?

 

Nhar is-Sibt kien ta’pjaċir għalija li nindirizza l-laqgha plenarja tal-Kunsilliera Lokali li tkun organizzata kull sena mill-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Kunsilli Lokali. Din is-sena din il-laqgħa saret fil-Lukanda Corinthia ġewwa Ħ’Attard.

Osservajt illi fid-dokument konsultattiv tal-Istrateġija Nazzjonali dwar l-adattament għall-Impatti tal-Klima l-Kunsilli Lokali la jissemmew u l-anqas jidher li hemm rwol maħsub għalihom.

Meta nqiesu illi uħud mill-impatti tal-klima jolqtu direttament lill-lokalitajiet dan jistona. Ġibt l-eżempju tal-kapaċita tal-infrastruttura tat-toroq tagħna li tilqa’ għal bidla fl-intensita’ u l-frekwenza tax-xita.  Xi ħaġa li naraw b’għajnejna ta’ spiss, kull meta jkollna maltempata mhux tas-soltu kif kellna reċentement.

Għad hawn awtoritajiet u kummissjonijiet maħtura mill-Gvern li m’humiex konxji biżżejjed tar-rwol importanti li għandhom il-Kunsilli Lokali. Din il-Kummissjoni dwar il-Klima hi waħda minnhom.

F’Birżebbuġa per eżempju kellu jkun l-intervent tas-Segretarju Parlmentari Chris Said biex il-MEPA tieqaf min-negozjati  li kienet għaddejja mal-Port Ħieles dwar il-kundizzjonijiet ta’ permess ambjentali. Dan sar minħabba li dawn in-negozjati kienu għaddejjin mingħajr l-involviment tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Birżebbuġa. Issa li l-Kunsill ġie involut in-negozjati bdew mill-ġdid u qed jiġu ndirizzati issues li qabel mhux neċessarjament li kienu qed jitqiesu bl-istess profondita’.

Hemm iżda eżempji oħra li jixhdu illi mhux il-Kunsilli Lokali kollha huma impenjati bl-istess mod.

Meta l–MEPA ħarget il-permess għall-inċineratur tal-biċċerija il-Kunsilli Lokali tal-Marsa u r-Raħal Ġdid ġew mogħtija id-dritt li a spejjes tal-Wasteserve jistabilixxu sistema alternattva għall-monitoraġġ tal-arja fl-inħawi, kif ukoll d-dritt l jqabbdu espert li jgħinhom biex jifhmu l-informazzjoni li tkun ippubblikata dwar l-emissjonijiet. Il-parti relevanti tal-permess fil-fatt tgħid hekk :

”   1.3.2     Public access to emission data (most recent half hour average values and daily average values plus results from the most recent discontinuous measurements) shall be enabled via Internet.

1.3.3     The Marsa and Paola Local Councils may, jointly and in agreement with MEPA, establish an independent ambient air monitoring system covering particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides, as well as any other parameters that may be agreed with MEPA, at the expense of the permit holder.

1.3.4     The Marsa and Paola Local Councils may, in agreement with MEPA, jointly appoint an independent expert to assist in the interpretation of the emission data made publicly available pursuant to condition 1.3.2.”

Huwa ċar mill-kritika li ssir għall-operazzjoni ta’ dan l-inċineratur illi dawn iż-żewġ Kunsilli Lokali għadhom m’humiex konxji minn dan id-dritt li għandhom u s’issa jidher li m’għamlux użu minnu.

Jidher illi hemm bżonn illi l-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Kunsilli Lokali tgħin lil dawn il-Kunsilli Lokali u oħrajn bħalhom biex jiżviluppaw il-kapaċita tagħhom biex ikunu jistgħu jkunu ta’ servizz aħjar.

Riforma tal-Kunsilli Lokali : Proposti ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

 

 

Illum delegazzjoni ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika immexxija minn Arnold Cassola iltaqgħet mal-Onor. Chris Said Segretarju Parlamentari responsabbli għall-Kunsilli Lokali biex iddiskutiet miegħu r-riformi meħtieġa fil-qasam tal-Kunsilli Lokali.

 

Arnold Cassola ippreżenta lis-Segretarju Parlamentari b’dokument li fih sittax-il proposta dwar is-segwenti :

 

  1. Dritt għall-vot mas-16-il sena,
  2. Estensjoni tat-terminu tal-Kunsill Lokali,
  3. Is-Segretarji Eżekuttivi,
  4. Ir-rwol tas-Sindku,
  5. Ir-responsabbiltajiet tal-Kunsilliera,
  6. Remunerazzjoni għall-Kunsilliera kollha,
  7. Finanzjament tal-Kunsilli Lokali,
  8. Tenders tal-Kunsilli Lokali,
  9. Gvern Reġjonali,
  10. Użu ta’ fondi mill-EU,
  11. Rwol għall-Kunsilli Lokali fil-ħidma tal-MEPA,
  12. Referendum Lokali dwar proġetti li jeħtieġu EIA,
  13. Konflitti bejn il-Kunsilli Lokali, l-Awtoritajiet imwaqqfa b’liġi u/jew Dipartimenti tal-Gvern,
  14. Taħriġ għall-kunsilliera lokali,
  15. Devoluzzjoni tal-edukazzjoni fuq livell lokali,
  16. Bye-laws.

 

Id-dokument sħiħ jista’ jinqara jekk taghfas hawn.

Alternattiva Demokratika w il-Kunsilli Lokali

 

 

 

F’isem Alternattiva Demokratika attendejt għal seminar ta’ jumejn organizzat mill-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Kunsilli Lokali għas-Sindki f’Malta u Għawdex.

 

F’dan is-seminar saret diskussjoni fit-tul dwar ir-riforma meħtieġa  biex il-Kunsilli Lokali jaħdmu aħjar. Diskussjoni serja li fiha dawk kollha preżenti ilkoll irrikonoxxew il-ġdid akkumulat fil-lokalitajiet f’Malta u Għawdex kemm ilhom li twaqqfu l-Kunsilli Lokali.

 

Bla dubju ta’ xejn wara 15-il sena esperjenza hemm ħafna x’jiġi intejjeb fil-liġi biex ikunu hemm aġġornament maż-żminijiet, kif ukoll biex l-esperjenzi akkumulati jissarfu f’avvanz għal kulħadd.

 

 

Kien jidher ċar imma mill-kummenti ta’ dawk kollha preżenti li l-Awtoritajiet imwaqqfa b’liġi fosthom l-Awtorita’ dwar it-Trasport u l-Korporazzjoni għas-Servizzi ta’ l-Ilma għad ma aċċettawx l-eżistenza ta’ Gvern Lokali. Fil-konfront ta’ dawn kif ukoll ta’ oħrajn il-liġi m’hi ser tagħmel l-ebda differenza. L-attitudi trid tinbidel.

 

 

Sadanittant il-ġimgħa d-dieħla Alternattiva Demokratika tħabbar il-proposti tagħha dwar il-Kunsilli Lokali.

A Zero Waste Community ?

 The inhabitants of the tiny village of Kamikatsi in the island of Shikoku Japan have decided that they are to achieve the aim of a zero waste community. 

Whilst we may, in Malta, at times find it difficult to separate waste into organic waste, metal, paper, glass and plastic these guys separate their waste into 34 categories !

A community of around 2000 inhabitants, Kamikatsi aims to achieve its target as Japan’s first zero waste community by the year 2020. They have still some way to achieve their target but they have already achieve a recycling rate of 80%.

This is a challange for our local councils in Malta.

For more information view today’s Guardian .