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!

L-Isptar San Filep: sal-elezzjoni

It-Times qaltilna dal-għodu li l-kuntratt dwar San Filep ser ikun iffirmat dalwaqt.

Il-Gvern iddeċieda li jibqa’ għaddej minkejja li hu ċar li fil-Parlament hemm maġġoranza li ma taqbilx miegħu.

Min Gvern li jipprietka li “Flimkien kollox possibli” l-inqas li kont nistenna kienet li jkun umli biżżejjed li jirrealizza li hemm dubji kbar fuq il-mod kif qed imexxi.

Id-deċiżjoni tal-Gvern li jibqa’ għaddej minkejja li fil-Parlament hemm mozzjoni li titlob li jsir skrutinju qabel mal-Gvern jorbot il-kaxxa ta’ Malta għal infieq inutli hi biss sfida. Il-Gvern ta’ Lawrence Gonzi jrid jisfida u fl-istess ħin m’għandux il-kuraġġ li jiffaċċa l-proċess demokratiku. Meta partit politiku jimxi b’dan il-mod ifisser li tilef ir-raġuni.

Il-Gvern ta’ Lawrence Gonzi hu interessat biss li jidher li qed jagħmel xi ħaġa issa. Taparsi. Jaf li meta jiġi l-waqt biex jiddeċiedi jekk jixtrix l-isptar jew le ma jixtrihx għax il-permess għal 280 sodda diffiċli biex joħroġ mill-MEPA.

Imbagħad ikun irid jinbeda kollox mill-ġdid. Imma l-elezzjoni tkun ġiet u marret!

L-isptar St Philip fil-Parlament

Il-lejla fil-Parlament l-Opposizzjoni sfurzat lill-Gvern jiddibatti l-proċess li wassal għad-deċiżjoni li l-Gvern jikri bid-dritt li eventwalment jikkunsidra li jixtri l-isptar St Philip propjeta’ ta’ kumpaniji kkontrollati mit-Tabib Frank Portelli.

Jiena smajt il-kelliemi kollha. Il-kwieti u l-imqarbin. Tal-Gvern, l-Opposizzjoni u l-Indipendenti.

Konvint iktar minn qatt qabel li jkun għaqli li qabel ma tittieħed id-deċiżjoni li l-kuntratt ikun iffirmat għandhom ikunu eżaminati r-rapporti kollha li saru in konnessjoni  mal-funzjoni li dan l-isptar jista’ jkollu.

L-istimi ta’ valur issa saru pubbliċi, jonqos ir-rapporti u l-istimi dwar ix-xogħol ta’ riabilitazzjoni li issemmew waqt id-dibattitu. Dawk għadhom imsakkrin! Għad hemm ħafna affarijiet li m’humiex ċari.

Il-Ministru Fenech ħass il-ħtieġa li jemfasizza kemm il-proċess kien wieħed legali. Tajjeb. Imma r-riżultat ma jikkonvinċix lil diversi.

Il-Gvern ilu s-snin jikkunsidra din il-proposta. Issa wasal iż-żmien li l-Parlament jgħarbel dak li sar. Wara tkun tista’ tiġi ikkunsidrata d-deċiżjoni.

Fil-fehma tiegħi l-aħjar triq hi dik. L-ewwel l-għarbiel, wara d-deċiżjoni.

Gvern li jiddisprezza l-Parlament

L-aħbar tal-bieraħ fil-għaxija li l-Gvern ser jgħaddi l-każ tal-Isptar St Philip lill-Awditur Ġenerali biex jeżaminah għall-ewwel qiestha bħala pass pożittiv. Sakemm irrealiżżajt li dan il-Gvern ser jagħmlu wara li l-kuntratt, li permezz tiegħu jikri l-Isptar filwaqt li jżomm id-dritt li jixtri, ikun ġie iffirmat.

Jekk qatt kellna bżonn prova kemm il-Gvern immexxi minn Lawrence Gonzi jiddisprezza l-Parlament issa din il-prova jista’ jmissha kulħadd b’idejh. Il-Gvern m’huwiex lest li jbaxxi rasu għall-Parlament li għandu quddiemu mozzjoni ippreżentata minn Franco Debono biex il-proċess kollu jkun eżaminat. Il-Gvern biex jevita li l-Parlament jorbotlu idejh qed iħaffef biex jikkonkludi kollox ħalli jekk u meta l-Parlament jesprimi ruħu jkun tard wisq.

Dan kollu ma tantx jitfa’ dawl sabiħ fuq il-kredenzjali demokratiċi tal-Gvern immexxi minn Lawrence Gonzi.

Dan juri kemm hi difettuża is-sistema demokratika tagħna li s’issa għad ma fehmitx l-importanza li l-ebda partit politiku ma għandu jkun afdat waħdu bit-tmexxija tal-Gvern. Għax issa li l-Gvern qed jaħrab mill-Parlament l-uniku possibilita’ li jkunu ikkontrollati l-abbużi hi permezz ta’ xi membru tal-Kabinett li jkollu l-kuraġġ li jieqaf lil Lawrence Gonzi. Safejn naf jien ma hemm l-ebda wieħed minnhom li għandu l-kuraġġ li nhar it-Tnejn li ġej idur fuq sħabu u jgħidilhom li issa qed jabbużaw iż-żejjed. Il-membri tal-Kabinett huma kollha membri tal-istess Partit u ilkoll kemm huma jpoġġu l-lealta’ tagħhom lejn Lawrence Gonzi qabel il-lealta’ tagħhom lejn il-pajjiż.

Il-poter li għandhom il-Ministri u l-Gvern joħroġ mill-fatt li huma membri tal-Parlament. Gvern serju ġaladarba ġie ikkontestat il-mod kif huwa qed jaġixxi kien iħaffef biex iressaq quddiem il-Parlament il-mozzjoni li hemm pendenti dwar l-Isptar St Philip. Gvern immexxi min-nies ta’ rieda tajba hekk jagħmlu.

Prim Ministru serju hekk jagħmel. Iqum biex jiffaċċja is-siegħa tal-prova. Is-siegħa tal-verita’. Imma Gonzi kodard. Jipprietka li s-siegħa tal-prova waslet imma kontinwament jipposponi l-appuntament tiegħu. M’għandux il-kuraġġ li jiffaċċjah.

Il-politika m’hiex logħba ċess. Hi strument ta’ servizz. Sfortunatament bil-manuvri u l-maniġġi tiegħu Lawrence Gonzi qed jagħmel ħsara kbira lill-politka f’Malta, imma fuq kollox qed jikkundanna lill-Partit Nazzjonalista għal snin twal fl-Opposizzjoni.

Is-siegħa tal-prova qegħda wara l-bieb. Inutli li tipprova tisgiċċa.

The two faces of Janus

In Roman mythology the god Janus was depicted as having a head with two faces. One looking eastwards and the other westwards. One symbolically looking into the future  and the other into the past.  

Unfortunately it is not Janus who overlooks the entrance to the Ministry for the Environment in Valletta. Janus could symbolically motivate environmental policy through learning through past mistakes and applying the lessons learnt into the future.  Janus could however symbolise the two political faces of government. One compatible with its declarations and rhetoric. The other with its actions.

Consider this government’s commitments in favour of sustainable development. In May 2008 the Head of State reading the speech from the throne on behalf of Gonzipn promised  one and all that :

The government’s plans and actions are to be underpinned by the notion of sustainable development of the economy, of society and of the environment. When making decisions today, serious consideration will be given to the generations of tomorrow.

Sustainable development has three main dimensions – economic, social and environmental. Our challenge is to ensure continuous economic development, promoted by education, social development, with particular attention to environmental protection.  When we evaluate our activities in view of these three inter-related dimensions, we would be placing every person at the heart of the Government’s actions.”

The member of Cabinet responsible for issues of sustainable development is the Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi. Dr Gonzi’s commitment towards sustainable development is not to be gauged by his rhetoric but through his actions. He excels in rhetoric but he fails miserably in implementation.

The Commission for Sustainable Development set up in terms of the Environment Protection Act has not met for almost five years, since December 2006. Its Chairman is Dr Gonzi. During its last meeting it had approved the final version of the National Sustainable Development Strategy, which it then submitted to Cabinet for approval. The main function of the commission now is to oversee the implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Maltese Islands, approved by Cabinet prior to the March 2008 election and having a 10-year lifespan (2007-2016). The strategy is half way past its lifespan and the process for its implementation is nowhere in sight.

This fact on its own speaks volumes as to government’s strategy. The National Sustainable Development Strategy was drafted after years of discussions with civil society. The Commission which in terms of the Environment Protection Act had to be chaired by the Prime Minister hardly ever met in the presence of Dr Gonzi. He delegated his responsibilities to others. When the National Sustainable Development Strategy was finalised government ignored it and commenced the formulation of another document dealing with a National Environment Policy. The information available to date about this National Environment Policy is substantially a duplication of what’s been said and written on the Sustainable Development strategy.

All this leads to one conclusion. The current government is primarily interested in talking about sustainable development and environmental issues. But when the time comes for implementation it goes back to square one. More talk and more documents.

Well it seems that the Minster for the Environment, Dr Lawrence Gonzi, needs some images of Janus at his office. It would remind him constantly that in the long run having two faces on the same head is only suited to mythology.      

 Published Sunday 7th August 2011

The Independent on Sunday – Environment Supplement

 

Ġirien Nukleari

minn Carmel Cacopardo

ipubblikat 27 ta’ Lulju 2008

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Fi Franza fi spazju ta’ 16-il jum seħħew tliet inċidenti nukleari.

L-ewwel inċident seħħ fil-lejl bejn is-6 u s-7 ta’ Lulju fis-sit nukleari ta’ Tricastin. Skart likwidu, madwar 30,000 litru li kien fih l-uranju, b’mod aċċidentali waqa’ f’żewġ xmajjar. L-awtoritajiet Franċiżi ħarġu struzzjonijiet lir-residenti biex ħadd ma jistad, ħadd ma jixrob ilma mill-bjar, kif ukoll biex ħadd ma jgħum fix-xmajjar jew jieħu sehem fi sports fl-ilma. Lanqas ma kien possibbli li jintuża ilma mix-xmajjar għat-tisqija.

It-tieni inċident seħħ fl-impjant nukleari ta’ Romans-sur Isere meta nhar it-18 ta’ Lulju spetturi tas-sit indunaw b’pajp mifqugħ li minnu ħareġ likwidu radjuattiv. It-tielet inċident seħħ mill-ġdid fi Tricastin nhar it-23 ta’ Lulju. L-impjant kien magħluq imma partiċelli radjuattivi ħarġu minn pajp li nqasam fl-impjant nukleari u 97 impjegat spiċċaw l-isptar fejn instab li kienu esposti għal doża baxxa ta’ radjuattività.
Franza tipproduċi 80 fil-mija ta’ l-elettriku tagħha permezz ta’ enerġija nukleari f’59 impjant imxerrda mal-pajjiż kollu. Bħala riżultat ta’ din id-dipendenza fuq l-enerġija nukleari Franza għandha industrija organizzata u b’saħħitha. Il-Gvern Franċiż jgħinha biex tistabbilixxi swieq ġodda billi tesporta t-teknoloġija nukleari.

Fost l-aħħar swieq li qed ifittxu li jippenetraw hemm dak fl-Afrika ta’ Fuq. Franza iffirmat ftehim ta’ kooperazzjoni mal-Marokk, ma’ l-Alġerija u mal-Libja biex tgħinhom jiżviluppaw impjanti nukleari għal skopijiet ċivili. L-iktar li jinteressana hu l-ftehim mal-Libja li se jwasssal biex jinbena impjant nukleari li permezz tiegħu jkun prodott ilma tajjeb għax-xorb minn ilma baħar. Ovvjament, dan l-impjant se jinbena viċin il-kosta.

Inċident f’impjant nukleari jista’ jseħħ bħala riżultat ta’ waħda minn tliet affarijiet: żball uman, ħsara li tiżviluppa fil-makkinarju inkella bħala riżultat ta’ attività naturali bħal terremot.

Hemm żewġ konsiderazzjonijiet li rridu nagħmlu. L-ewwel li l-Libja għandha xemx kemm trid. Teżisti t-teknoloġija biex tipproduċi ilma tajjeb għax-xorb mill-baħar permezz ta’ enerġija solari. Din qed titħaddem f’pajjiżi bħall-Kuwajt. Qed isiru ukoll esperimenti għal titjib sostanzjali f’din it-teknoloġija fl-Iżrael u f’Kalifornja.

Xi ħtieġa hemm ta’ impjant nukleari meta hemm enerġija mix-xemx b’xejn?

It-tieni konsiderazzjoni hi dwar kif niġu affettwati aħna bħala Malta jekk ikun hemm inċident nukleari fl-impjant Libjan. L-effetti jkunu jiddependu mill-gravità ta’ l-inċident. Inċident li jikkontamina l-baħar jaffettwa kemm l-industrija tas-sajd kif ukoll il-produzzjoni ta’ l-ilma f’pajjiżna. Irridu niftakru li 60 fil-mija ta’ l-ilma li nużaw jiġi mill-baħar. Inċident f’impjant nukleari mal-kosta Libjana li jniġġes il-baħar jista’ jaffettwa dan l-ilma li f’Malta s’issa m’għandniex alternattiva għalih għax l-ilma tal-pjan qed jispiċċa wkoll. L-effetti fuq Malta jistgħu jkunu ta’ gravità kbira għax l-uniku sors ta’ l-ilma mbagħad ikun dak impurtat fit-tankers minn Sqallija jew minn x’imkien ieħor.

Il-makkinarju fl-impjanti għat-tisfija tad-drenaġġ li qed jinbnew bħalissa ma jistgħux iservu alternattiva minħabba li l-ilma wara li jsaffuh jitfgħuh il-baħar flok ma jipproduċu ilma tajjeb għax-xorb kif jagħmlu per eżempju f’Singapore.

Apparti dan imbagħad hemm l-effetti fuq l-industrija tat-turiżmu. Kull aħbar ta’ allarm ikollha effett negattiv u t-turiżmu jieħu daqqa kbira b’inċident nukleari daqstant qrib tagħna.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu l-Gvern Malti ma lissen l-ebda kelma. L-anqas l-Oppożizzjoni.
Dan mhux kollox. Il-periklu mhux ġej biss min-nofsinhar għax fit-tramuntana fl-Italja, beda jinħema periklu ieħor.

Il-Gvern ta’ Berlusconi ddikjara li fi ħsiebu jibda l-proċess biex jibni numru ta’ impjanti nukleari. Il-periklu għalina mill-Italja hu l-istess għall-periklu mil-Libja. Bid-differenza li l-iktar li jaffettwawna jkunu dawk l-impjanti li jinbew fin-naħa t’isfel ta’ l-Italja jew fi Sqallija.

Fil-konfront ta’ l-Italja hemm fattur wieħed li jista’ jkun ta’ għajnuna. Bħala riżultat tat-tisħib ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropea tapplika għalina l-Konvenzjoni ta’ Espoo, iffirmata fil-Finlandja fl-1991. Din hi inkorporata fid-Direttiva tal-UE dwar l-EIA (assessjar tal-impatt ambjentali) u tipprovdi li fejn ikun hemm possibbiltà ta’ impatt ambjentali li jmur lil hinn mill-fruntieri ta’ pajjiż terz (transboundary impact) hemm l-obbligu li l-pajjiż affettwat ikun notifikat kif ukoll li jkollu l-possibbiltà li jinvolvi ruħu biex ikun assigurat li l-EIA jsir sew.

X’miżuri ħa l-Ministeru ta’ l-Affarijiet Barranin f’dan ir-rigward? Ħadd għadu ma qal xejn minkejja d-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Claudio Scajola, Ministru Taljan għall-Iżvilupp Ekonomiku favur l-enerġija nukleari.
Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu u fid-dell ta’ theddid li jista’ jkun daqshekk kbir il-Gvern għandu l-obbligu li jinforma dwar x’qiegħed jagħmel. L-Oppożizzjoni wkoll għandha l-obbligu li tispjega għaliex baqgħet ħalqha magħluq.

 

ara ukoll : http://www.illum.com.mt/2008/07/27/t2.html