Tradituri u tradimenti

 

Żewġ kelmiet li l-użu tagħhom qiegħed jiżdied. Dan id-diskors ma jagħmel ġid lil ħadd. La lil min jgħidu u l-anqas li min jisimgħu.

Dan hu diskors li ġeneralment qed jingħad minn persuni viċin il-Gvern tal-lum u dan b’difiża għall-kritika li qed issir, f’Malta u barra għal dak li għaddej madwarna.

Nifhem li l-kritika ddarras, b’mod partikolari meta tkun iebsa. Pero’ min hu konvint minn dak li qed jagħmel m’għandux ħtieġa ta’ insulti, iżda hu kapaċi jwieġeb argument b’argument.

L-użu tal-kelma “tradituri” fil-konfront tal-kritiċi tal-Gvern l-iktar li tagħmel il-ħsara hu lill-Gvern innifsu għax twassal il-messaġġ li dawk li jappoġġaw lill-Gvern (jew parti minnhom) huma intolleranti għall-kritika.

Fuq kollox għalkemm huwa l-Gvern (bis-saħħa tal-maġġoranza li għandu fil-Parlament) li jiddeċiedi, ma jfissirx li neċessarjament illi għandu raġun, kemm f’dak li jgħid kif ukoll f’dak li jagħmel.

Tajjeb li dejjem inżommu quddiem għajnejna li n-numri jiddeterminaw min jiddeċiedi, mhux min għandu raġun.

Il-kritika lill-Gvern tal-lum saret u tibqa’ issir, bħalma saret lill-Gvern tal-bieraħ. Iċ-ċavetta biex nimxu l-quddiem hi li lkoll niftħu widnejna beraħ biex nisimgħu iktar.

B’dan il-mod biss hemm iċ-ċans li jsiru inqas żbalji, mhux bl-insulti. Għax l-insulti huma l-għodda esklussiva ta’ min m’għandux fiduċja fir-raġuni.

Brexit : issa nistennew is-siegħa tal-prova

Brexit 2

Huwa tajjeb li l-bieraħ il-Gvern Malti u l-Opposizzjoni fil-Parlament qablu illi fil-każ Brexit Malta għandha tfittex dak li hu fl-interess nazzjonali.

Ħadd ma għandu interess li jfittex l-interess nazzjonali Malti ħlief il-politiċi Maltin. La r-Renju Unit, la l-Ġermanja, la Franza u l-anqas l-Italja u insomma ħadd iktar ħliefna.

Diġa rajna tul is-snin kif il-parti l–kbira tal-pajjiżi l-oħra fl-Unjoni Ewropeja bdew jagħtu ftit każ ta’ Malta meta bdew ġejjin f’sitwazzjoni simili, bħal per eżempju fil-każ tal-immigranti Sirjani. Konna ilna s-snin nitkellmu dwar il-ħtieġa li kulħadd jerfa’ sehmu. Imma anke issa li intlaqtu pajjiżi oħra ukoll għadhom mexjin bil-mod wisq.

Wara l-paroli vojt fil-prietki ta’ tmiem il-ġimgħa fil-każini politiċi, l-bieraħ kien mument ta’ ħafna kliem sabiħ. Naraw kif jiżviluppaw l-affarijiet fil-ġimgħat li ġejjin, fis-siegħa tal-prova!

Wara Barroso min?

Muscat + Junker

Għamel tajjeb il-Gvern Malti li ħabbar illi f’dan l-istadju ser jappoġġa l-kandidatura  tal-ex Prim Ministru tal-Lussemburgu Jean Claude Junker biex dan ikun is-suċċessur ta’ Josè Manuel Barroso. Il-posizzjoni tal-Gvern Malti tirrispetta dak li jipprovdi t-trattat ta’ Liżbona u li ser ikun implimentat għall-ewwel darba issa: fl-għażla tal-President tal-Kummissjoni Ewropeja, il-Kunsill Ewropew [kompost mill-Kapijiet tal-Gvernijiet] għandu jirrispetta r-riżultat elettorali tal-Parlament Ewropew.

Il-posizzjoni li ħa l-Gvern Malti hi posizzjoni tajba mhux biss għax tirrispetta t-trattat ta’ Liżbona, iżda fuq kollox għax dan qed isir fil-konfront ta’ rappreżentant ta’ partit politiku differenti minn dak li jappartjeni għalih  il-partit fil-Gvern f’Malta. Huwa tajjeb li l-ispirtu Ewropew qed isaħħah  l-għeruq f’pajjiżna ukoll!  Jidher, mid-dikjarazzjonijiet ta’ Joseph Muscat, illi Jean Claude Junker ta’ assigurazzjonijiet lill-Gvern Malti illi l-programm tal-Kummissjoni Ewropeja mmexxija minnu ser tagħti attenzjoni u enerġija lil proposti dwar l-immigrazzjoni skond ix-xewqa tal-Gvernijiet diversi fil-Mediterran, fuq quddiem net Malta u l-Italja. Dan hu pass tajjeb. Prosit.

Il-Kunsill Ewropew mistenni li jieħu deċiżjoni dwar is-suċċessur ta’ Barroso fis-summit ta’ tmiem ix-xahar. S’issa għadu mhux ċar jekk il-proposta tal-ħatra ta’ Junker hux ser tkun approvata u dan minħabba li hemm numru ta’ Gvernijiet Ewropej li iddikjaraw jew indikaw li ma jaqblux ma dan.

L-iktar li semma’ leħnu kien David Cameron Prim Ministru ta’ dak li sa issa hu r-Renju Unit. Cameron qed jopponi l-ħatra ta’ Junker minħabba l-politika federalist tiegħu (ta’ Junker) li Cameron iqies bħala ostaklu kbir għall-posizzjoni ta’ Cameron li l-Unjoni Ewropeja iżżarma kemm tista’ mir-regolamenti tagħha li ma jikkonċernawx il-kummerċ!

Cameron mhux waħdu. Għandu l-appoġġ tal-Gvernijiet tal-Isvezja, l-Olanda u l-Ungerija.

L-anqas Matteo Renzi, għall-Gvern Taljan, ma jidher li hu kuntent bin-nomina ta’ Junker.

Jekk dawn hux ser jibqgħu waħedhom jew jekk hux ser jiżdiedu fl-opposizzjoni għall-ħatra ta’ Junker għadu ftit kmieni biex inkunu nafu. Imma huwa importanti għax il-ħatra ta’ Junker teħtieġ l-approvazzjoni ta’ maġġoranza kwalifikata: 55% tal-pajjizi membri li jirrappreżentaw 65% tal-popolazzjoni Ewropeja.

Jekk il-Kunsill Ewropew japprova l-ħatra ta’ Jean Claude Junker bħala President tal-Kummissjoni Ewropeja, imbagħad ikun imiss l-approvazzjoni tal-Parlament Ewropew. Fil-Parlament Ewropew l-opinjonijiet huma ħafna iktar ikkuluriti. Għalissa xejn ma hu assigurata, l-anqas hemm.  Wara l-aħħar ta’ dan ix-xahar, kif ukoll meta l-programm politiku ta’ Junker ikun magħruf imbagħad l-affarijiet ikunu ftit iktar ċari.

Nistennew u naraw.

ippubblikat fuq iNews: it-Tlieta 17 ta’ Ġunju 2014

Tgħid nitgħallmu mill-iżbalji?

malta passport

Huwa ta’ sodisfazzjon li l-Gvern u l-Kummissjoni Ewropeja waslu għal ftehim dwar l-iskema ta’ ċittadinanza.

Il-bieraħ fil-għaxija tħabbar li wara diskussjonijiet kien hemm qbil li l-iskema ta’ ċittadinanza ser tkun emendata biex tinkludi l-obbligu ta’ residenza ta’ sena. Dan hu tibdil radikali għall-iskema u jagħmel l-iskema kompletament differenti.

Ser ikun hemm min jargumenta dwar jekk sena huwiex perjodu qasir. Bħal dejjem hemm argumenti validi li jiġġustifikaw attitudni bħal din. Ser jibqa’ min hu kontra l-iskema fil-prinċipju. L-istess bħalma hemm min hu tal-fehma li tul is-snin l-għoti taċ-ċittadinanza b’mod ġenerali illaxkat ħafna.

L-iżball fundamentali tal-Gvern fil-proċess kollu kien li għaġgel u dam biex fehem il-ħtieġa tal-konsultazzjoni. Il-ħin li jintuża fil-konsultazzjoni mhuwiex ħin moħli. Huwa ħin li fih tista’ tifhem aħjar kif jaħsibha ħaddieħor. Bil-konsultazzjoni, proposta tajba issir aħjar filwaqt li proposta ħażina jkollok ċans tibdilha.

Sfortunatament l-iżbalji li saru mill-Gvern u r-reazzjonijiet kultant sproporzjonati tal-Opposizzjoni, t-tnejn li huma, ser jissarfu inevitabilment fi ħsara lir-reputazzjoni ta’ Malta. Hemm bżonn li nitgħallmu minn dawn l-iżbalji.

Nistennew ħalli naraw id-dettalji tal-iskema kif emendata.

Fil-Parlament Ewropew : Joseph u l-bejgħ taċ-Ċittadinanza

Joseph Muscat + Alfred Sant

Ħadd ma għandu jkun sorpriż li l-iskema tal-bejgħ taċ-ċittadinanza kif proposta minn Joseph ser tkun diskussa mill-Parlament Ewropew.

Prattikament il-partiti kollha fil-Parlament Ewropew iridu l-spjegazzjonijiet. Dan jgħodd ukoll għas-soċjalisti fil-Parlament Ewropew.

Hu ċar għal kulħadd li huma l-Gvernijiet nazzjonali li għandhom il-poter li jiddeċiedu materji dwar iċ-ċittadinanza. Imma huwa daqstant ieħor ċar li f’dak kollu li għandu impatt fuq il-pajjiżi l-oħra membri tal-Unjoni kull Gvern għandu l-obbligu li joqgħod lura.

Il-bejgħ taċ-ċittadinanza Maltija qed tiġi reklamata minn Henley and Partners, konsulenti u aġenti tal-Gvern Malti, bħala x-xiri ta’ aċċess liberu fiż-żona Schengen. Huwa dan li qed inissel tħassib fid-diversi pajjiżi membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja.

Membri Parlamentari Ewropej, kif ukoll diversi Gvernijiet Ewropej, qed jistaqsu dwar xi dritt għandu l-Gvern ta’ Malta li jagħti dan id-dritt ta’ aċċess lil min jixtri ċ-ċittadinanza.

M’hemmx tweġiba faċli. Imma żgur li ser jinqalgħu diffikultajiet mhux żgħar għax ħadd ma jrid li min jista’ jidħol f’pajjiżu jiddeċidieh pajjiż ieħor. Din hi l-problema li ħoloq Joseph Muscat. Qed jassumi li hu u l-Gvern Malti għandhom xi dritt li jiddeċiedu li jagħtu permess lil numru ta’ ċittadini ta’ pajjiżi barra mill-Unjoni Ewropeja biex ikunu jistgħu jidħlu meta u kif iridu fl-Unjoni Ewropeja. U dan bi ħlas ta’ €625,000.

Din ħadd m’hu ser jaċcetta li issir.

Dan hu l-qofol tad-diskussjoni ta’ Jannar li ġej fil-Parlament Ewropew.

The citizenship bubble of Malta

Malta golden passport 1

Many issues are involved in the citizenship debate.

The government clearly considers Maltese citizenship as just another commodity, which it can milk. Initially it even removed the transparency rule from the statute book, which rule ensured the publication of the names of all those who acquired Maltese citizenship.

Whereas local public opinion was completely ignored, the Labour government reacted to the international media coverage by announcing that it will reverse its ditching of transparency. Yet its reaction may be too late as the damage done to Malta’s reputation is not easily reversed.

The international media queried the unconventional methods used to generate the finance required by the Maltese state.

Within EU circles it is clear that issues concerning citizenship are a competence reserved to member states. Yet the  Schengen dimension of EU citizenship cannot be ignored.

The citizenship scheme is attractive because, through it, the prospective citizen attains freedom of movement within the EU.

It is a very serious concern which can only be adequately addressed if the due diligence process is foolproof.

The problem is that, to date, the Maltese Government has already signalled that it is not that much concerned by the impact of persons who are associated with a fraudulent past, a case in point being government advisor Shiv Nair who is listed permanently on the World’s Bank blacklist.

Another recent example is China Communications Construction Company Limited, also on the World Bank blacklist. This Chinese Company will carry out (gratis) the feasibility study for a Malta-Gozo bridge on the basis of the very friendly relations between the two republics, we were told. (I had the impression that countries had no friends, they just have interests!)

This follows the earlier selection of Lahmeyer International as an advisor to the Gonzi Government. Lahmeyer International too was on the World Bank’s  blacklist.

Past performance indicates that due diligence is not an area in which the Republic of Malta has excelled.

Is it a sale or is it an investment? In fact it is a bit of both. It is surely an unconventional way of raising finance. Its major characteristic is that it focuses on the short term benefits and ignores the long term impacts.  The selling price can give immediate results: it can finance the start-up of specific projects. Whether these will be successful is another matter altogether. The impacts of an investment scheme will take more time, its a long term exercise.

The method of payment selected for the purchase of citizenship is clearly based on the St Kitts and Nevis model in the Caribbean.  In St Kitts and Nevis, payment for citizenship is received by the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation and, subsequently, invested. The investment made is not at the discretion of the applicant for citizenship but a decision by the country dishing out the citizenship.

Public opinion considers that citizenship should be acquired through establishing solid roots in the country. Establishing minimum residence criteria and committment to the economic development of Malta through investment and job creation are essential criteria to be linked to the award of economic citizenship.

Government has done well, even though late in the day, to declare that it will reverse its secrecy stance. The declaration by Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech that the regulations being drafted to implement government’s proposal will ensure that the names of those granted citizenship under the new legislation are public is welcome. This new position adopted by the government links with and reinforces the public committments made on the need for more robust due diligence.

It is, however, clear  that regulations alone will not suffice to entrench transparency in the citizenship scheme.  Amendments will also be necessary to the main legislation, in particular to remove reporting restrictions imposed by Parliament on the regulator.

The citizenship debate was also characteristed by the radical position taken by the Nationalist Party that, once back in office, it would not only take steps to scrap the new citizenship scheme but that it would, moreover, withdraw citizenship granted under the provisions of the scheme.

The Attorney General has advised the government that the PN’s proposal would be unconstitutional and would infringe human rights. Such advice was confirmed by the Dean of the Faculty of Law and by constitutional expert Ian Refalo.

The PN has declared that it is in receipt of legal advice reinforcing its position on the withdrawal of citizenship granted.

Whilst the Prime Minister has published the advice received from the Attorney General, the Leader of the Opposition has failed to follow suit. The Leader of the Opposition needs to be consistent. He cannot chastise the government for being secretive whilst simultaneously withholding important information from the public. It is not just the government which needs to be transparent.

The availability of both government and opposition to meet and discuss possible modifications to the citizenship scheme is welcome. Hopefully the wider national interest will prevail.

published in The Times Saturday, 23 November 2013

Sal-ponta ta’ imnieħru

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Għall-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni Simon Busuttil, il-mod kif żviluppat l-istorja tal-bejgħ taċ-ċittadinanza għall-prezz ta’ €650,000 hi sħaba sewda għax il-Gvern irrombla minn fuq l-Opposizzjoni. Simon Busuttil kompla jgħid li dak li ġara hu ta’ theddida għad-demokrazija.

Il-Gvern wasal għall-konklużjoni li l-iskema tal-bejgħ taċ-ċittadinanza  hi mezz tajjeb biex bih jiġbor il-miljuni għal numru ta’ snin, biżżejjed biex ikollu l-mezzi ħalli jiffinanzja l-programm politiku li jrid iwettaq mingħajr ma jżid taxxi. Jidher li ngħata pariri dwar dan kemm mill-konsulenti tiegħu kif ukoll minn dawk li nirreferu għalihom bħala lobbyists.

Il-Gvern geżwer il-proposta tiegħu fis-segretezza. Fatt li saħħah l-argument li minkejja d-due diligence kollha li jista’ jkun hemm xorta hemm il-possibilita ta’ karattri mhux mixtieqa li japplikaw għal u jakkwistaw din iċ-ċittadinaza.

Li kieku l-Gvern aċċetta s-suggeriment li jneħħi s-segretezza, proposta li saret mill-Alternattiva Demokratika,  mill-Opposizzjoni, kif ukoll mis-soċjeta’ ċivili, argument qawwi kontra din l-iskema taċ-ċittadinanza kien ikun eliminat.

Il-konsegwenza tal-iskema kif approvata mill-Parlament hi li Malta tidher li biex iddaħħal il-flus hi lesta li tiddefendi l-interessi ta’ min ma jridx jikxef l-identita tiegħu.Issa dan kollu jmur kontra r-reputazzjoni li Malta kisbet tul is-snin bħala ċentru finanzjarju serju u ta’ min jafdah. Sfortunatament din ir-reputazzjoni tajba inevitabilment ser tittappan u dan minħabba li s-segretezza tal-iskema taċ-ċittadinanza inevitabilment ser tkun assoċjata mal-idea ta’ tax haven. Dan kollu jista’ jwassal għal impatt negattiv fuq is-servizzi finanzjarji li huma ibbażati f’Malta bħala riżultat ta’ din ir-reputazzjoni tajba. B’mod li dak li l-Gvern idaħħal mill-iskema tal-bejgħ taċ-ċittadinanza jintilef minn banda oħra.

Imbagħad hemm l-issue tal-prinċipji involuti. Fir-realta’ hawnhekk ingħataw messaġġi konfliġġenti. Għax fil-prinċipju hemm qbil maċ-ċittadinanza ekonomika. Id-differenza ta’ opinjoni hi dwar x’inhu meqjus bħala investiment aċċettabbli. Il-Gvern għażel mudell ta’ donazzjoni “żgħira” minn għand numru imdaqqas bħalma hu ipprattikat f’diversi pajjiżi fil-Karibew filwaqt li l-kontro-proposta hi l-mudell Awstrijak ta’ investiment sostanzjali.

Il-kuntrast bejn iż-żewġ mudelli hu li l-mudell li għażel il-Gvern iwassal għall-fondi direttament fil-kaxxa ta’ Malta li dwarhom ikun il-Gvern li jiddeċiedi kif ikunu investiti. Min-naħa l-oħra l-mudell Awstrijak idum iktar biex jagħti r-riżultati. Apparti dan dwar l-investimenti mill-mudell Awstrijak il-Gvern, ftit li xejn ikollu kontroll fuq kif jitħaddem.

Bħalissa l-istampa internazzjonali qed tirrapporta dak li Malta qed toffri għall-bejgħ passaport għall-Unjoni Ewropeja. Nistennew u naraw kif ser jiżviluppaw l-affarijiet u l-konsegwenzi.

L-issue kollha taċ-ċittadinanza hi deċiżjoni politika li ma naqbilx magħha għax hi ibbażata fuq konsiderazzjonijiet ta’ benefiċċju “short term”.  Fil-waqt li l-anqas dan l-impatt “short term” ma hu assigurat għad irridu naraw jekk l-impatt negattiv antiċipat fuq is-servizzi finanzjarji iseħhx. Filwaqt li nixtieq li dan ma jiġrix, issa hu ċar li għandna Gvern li jħares sal-pont ta’ imnieħru.

Biex niġu f’sensina

ostrich

Il-pjani lokali li jsiru m’humiex hemm għal dejjem. Jeħtieġ li jkunu aġġornati minn żmien għal żmien skond dak li jkun jeħtieġ il-pajjiż.

Mhux kulħadd jagħti prijorita’ lill-istess affarijiet.

Min iħares sal-pont ta’ imnieħru, (short term) bħalma qed jagħmel il-Gvern Laburista li għandna illum kif ukoll kif għamel il-Gvern Nazzjonalista ta’ qablu, jagħti prijorita’ lill-industrija tal-bini għax iqies l-kontribut li  suppost illi din l–industrija qed tagħti lill-ekonomija tal-pajjiż.

Bħalma ġara f’pajjiżi oħra b’konsegwenzi diżastrużi, l-investiment fil-propjeta’ hu bużżieqa li f’pajjiżna ukoll għad trid tinfaqa’ u meta tinfaqa’ ser iweġġgħu ħafna nies. J’alla ddum ma tinfaqa’ u sa dakinnhar nittama li min għandu jiftaħ għajnejħ ikun fetaħom beraħ u  jkun diġa beda jirrimedja.

Hemm bżonn urġenti li nifhmu li l-industrija tal-bini għandha bżonn tkun ristrutturat. Ma tistax tibqa’ tipproduċi iktar propjetajiet reżidenzjali  biex il-parti l-kbira minnhom jibqgħu vojta. Hemm ħtieġa li din l-industrija tkun mgħejjuna tfittex toroq oħra. Hemm ħafna modi kif dan jista’ jsir.

Il-programm elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika għall-elezzjoni ta’ Marzu 2013 kien ċar fuq din il-materja. Kien l-uniku wieħed li tkellem ċar fuq l-industrija tal-bini u dwar il-ħtieġa li ma jkollnix iktar proġetti massiċċi ta’ kostruzzjoni reżidenzjali.

72,150 post residenzjali vojt ifisser ħela tar-riżorsi tal-pajjiż. Ifisser ħela ta’ art. Ifisser ħela ta’ kapital investit li seta’ faċilment ġie investit f’oqsma oħra iktar produttivi. Ifisser ħela ta’ riżorsi umani li huma dedikati biex jipproduċu bini destinat li jibqa’ vojt. Riżorsi umani li l-pajjiż jeħtieġ f’oqsma iktar produttivi. Għall-ġid tagħhom, għall-ġid ta’ familtom, għall-ġid tal-pajjiż.

L-industrija tal-bini għandha impatti negattivi ekonomiċi, soċjali u ambjentali.

Ir-reviżjoni tal-pjani lokali hi l-opportunita tad-deheb biex nibdew mexjin fi triq li fuq medda ta’ żmien hi inqas problematika. Triq iebsa u diffiċli. Triq ta’ sagrifiċċju.  Triq li tirrikonoxxi li ġaladarba hawn dan il-bini kollu vojt ma nistgħux nibqgħu nibnu bl-istess ritmu. Ifisser ukoll li jeħtieġ li jonqsu l-impieġi fl-industrija tal-bini u jinħolqu f’oqsma oħra.  Mhux faċli. Imma l-problema saret daqshekk kbira għax Gvern wara l-ieħor għaddas rasu fir-ramel, bħan-ngħam.

Hi l-unika triq li tagħmel sens. Għax ikunu ifisser li bħala pajjiż bdejna ġejjin f’sensina.

kif gie ippubblikat fuq iNews nhar l-Erbgha 4 ta’ Settembru 2013

Those unrealistic water bills

Water Bill.Malta

Our water bills will have to change as water in Malta is not realistically priced. The Government is aware of this yet it is not informing the public. The Labour Party on the other hand is ignoring the pointers and foolishly insisting on the unsustainable electoral promise of reducing water bills.

A realistic water pricing policy is needed to ensure proper management of water resources. This can be done by ensuring that proper subsidies are in place for the basic use of water while simultaneously penalising waste.

In terms of article 9 of the Water Framework Directive of the European Union, Malta, like all other EU member states, must have a realistic water pricing system in place. The pricing system shall take account “of the principle of recovery of the costs of water services, including environmental and resource costs…”

In a report dated November 14, 2012 in reply to Malta’s submissions on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, the European Commission takes Malta to task on the pricing of water. The report, addressed to the European Parliament and the European Council, states that “it seems that environmental and resource costs have not been included in the cost recovery calculation”.

The price for water which the Water Services Corporation charges is limited to recovering its operational costs.

When the corporation extracts groundwater it does not pay for the water extracted. The cost of the water extracted (referred to as the resource cost) is ignored. This is obviously an incorrect practice as groundwater does have a cost which is dependent on a variety of factors. Once identified, on the basis of proper studies, this is a cost which must be added to the current charges. This is a matter which the Malta Resources Authority as the regulator should have been analysing for the past years.

In addition to the operational costs and the resource costs there are also the environmental costs which must be identified and quantified. The EU, in order to assist in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, facilitates a Common Implementation Strategy through which Guidance documents and technical reports are produced assisting member states in coming to grips with what is expected from them to protect water resources within their territories. Guidance document No. 1, in fact, entitled Economics And The Environment, is a 274-page long technical document which explains in detail what is to be taken into consideration.

I am informed that the Malta Resources Authority, after EU accession, carried out such an exercise of identifying and costing in detail the resource and environmental costs of water. Producing these studies is part of its role as the competent authority to report to the Commission on the economics of water use as required under Article 5 of the Directive –

that the management of water resources in the Maltese Islands is on a sound footing. The authority, I am informed, also made detailed professional proposals as to the Programme of Measures required by article 11 of the Water Framework Directive. This leads me to conclude that the Government has been in receipt of sound professional advice as to what needs to be done to manage in a professional manner Malta’s water resources. Unfortunately this advice has been ignored. This is a political responsibility yet to be shouldered.

The Auditor General’s Performance Audit entitled Safeguarding Malta’s Groundwater, published in February 2012, is an eye-opener as to the measures which have not yet been implemented (fully or partially). One of the most worrying is the metering of boreholes. The MRA has not been given adequate means which would go a long way to fast-track this control on the rate of extraction of groundwater. The end result is that notwithstanding that metering of boreholes was accepted by the Government as a suitable measure very late in the day, its implementation is already two years behind schedule.

The metering of boreholes should be the first step of a process leading to a long-term objective ensuring that all boreholes are no longer operational. It should be clear to all that ground water is public property.

Even agriculture should be slowly weaned away from the use of ground water. Adequately polished treated sewage effluent would be a suitable alternative.

Water is a precious resource essential for our well-being. It is essential for the well-being of our families, for our agriculture, for our manufacturing industry as well as for tourism. Notwithstanding its being a basic requirement for practically all our activities, it has been mismanaged for a very long time. Successive governments have ignored its mishandling.

Water has been considered as a freebie for far too long. It is now time to pay for past mistakes. If we take longer to realise this fact the environmental bills will be insurmountable. Hence it is irresponsible for the Labour Party to promise a reduction of water bills.

originally published in The Times, December 22, 2012

L-Isptar San Filep: Frank w is-serjeta’ tal-Gvern

Fl-opinjoni tiegħi l-prezz miftiehem għall-eventwali biegħ tal-Isptar San Filep mhux wieħed kontroversjali. Tonio Fenech Ministru tal-Finanzi ftaħar fil-Parlament li l-prezz kien bargain. Qal nhar it-Tnejn li għadda illi n-negozjaturi għan-nom tal-Gvern kellhom struzzjonijiet biex jimxu ma’ l-inqas stima (dik tal-Fondazzjoni għas-Servizzi Mediċi) u lil sid l-isptar qalulu take it or leave it.

Frank Portelli sid l-Isptar permezz tal-ishma li għandu fil-kumpanija Golden Shepherd Group Limited  ftit seta jinnegozja minħabba l-istat finanzjarju ħażin tal-kumpanija. Kellu jaċċetta prezz baxx : 62% tal-istima oriġinali tal-periti tieghu.  Fil-fehma tiegħi l-isptar San Filep jiswa iktar mill-prezz miftiehem ta’ €12.4 miljuni. Imma dik m’hiex problema tal-Gvern, hi problema ta’ Frank Portelli li spiċċa kif spiċċa. Kien qiegħed jinnegozja minn posizzjoni ta’ djgħufija.

Uħud, anke f’kummenti fuq dan il-blog, jaħsbu li l-Gvern mexa b’favoritiżmu ma Frank Portelli minħabba s-sessjonijiet ta’ “qrar” li organizza bejn nagħaġ mitlufa tal-PN u l-Kap tal-PN f’Villa Arrigo qabel l-Elezzjoni Ġenerali tal-2008. Il-fatti magħrufa s’issa iżda, ma jippuntawx f’din id-direzzjoni.

Il-Ministru tal-Finanzi nhar it-Tnejn fil-Parlament ftaħar li l-istruzzjonijiet li kellu t-team ta’ negozjaturi  tal-Gvern kien li ma jiċċaqlaqx mill-iktar stima baxxa u jassigura li l-prezz tal-ftehim finali jkun tali li ma jkunx hemm diffikulta’ dwaru mal-Awditur Ġenerali u Public Accounts Committee. Naħseb li l-Ministru tal-Finanzi jaf daqsi li l-prezz hu biss wieħed mill-kriterji.

Fost il-kriterji l-oħra (kif imfisser f’artikli  oħra f’dan il-blog) hemm kemm ser jintlaħqu l-oġġettivi tal-proġett propost.

Meta nhar it-Tnejn fil-Parlament tkellem fuq il-permess meħtieg mill-MEPA biex l-Isptar jikber għall-ħtiġijiet li għandu l-Gvern, il-Ministru  Tonio Fenech wera li ma kellux idea x’ser jiġri!  Il-Ministru jaf li l-għan li l-Isptar San Filep ikun jista’ jikber għal daqs li joffri 280 sodda hu diffiċli ħafna li jintlaħaq.

Minkejja li l-iskop tal-proġett mhux ċar  jekk jistax jintlaħaq il-Gvern xorta ser jgħaġġel jiffirma. Fl-4 snin negozjati ma indenjax ruħu jippreżenta applikazzjoni. Kieku ilha deċiza u kien ikollu kollox bl-iswed fuq l-abjad. Daqstant hu serju l-Gvern!