Is-sussidjarjetà fil-Kostituzzjoni

 

Nhar il-Ġimgħa delegazzjoni ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika iltaqgħet ma’ Silvio Parnis, Segretarju Parlamentari għall-Gvern Lokali, biex miegħu niddiskutu l-White Paper ippubblikata mill-Gvern dwar ir-riforma tal-kunsilli lokali.

Waqt id-diskussjoni għaddejna lil Silvio Parnis l-ideat tagħna dwar din il-White Paper. Għamilna tmien proposti b’dik ewlenija tiffoka dwar il-ħtieġa li jkun aċċettat u implimentat il-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà. Il-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà jeħtieġ li jifforma parti mill-kostituzzjoni biex iservi ta’ linja gwida għall-amminstrazzjoni pubblika tal-pajjiż u allura jħares b’qawwa l-ħidma tal-Gvern lokali u reġjonali.

It-trattati Ewropej diġa għamlu dan il-pass meta addottaw il-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà bħala prinċipju bażiku li jirregola r-relazzjonijiet kumplessi bejn l-istituzzjonijiet Ewropej u l-istati membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja.

Il-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà hu l-iktar żviluppat fl-istati hekk imsejħa Ġermaniċi tal-Ewropa u ċjoè l-Ġermanja, l-Awstrija u l-Iżvizzera, liema pajjiżi għandhom qafas ta’ Gvern lokali u reġjonali b’saħħtu u bħala riżultat ta’ dan ir-responsabbiltajiet u l-poteri huma mifruxa.

L-amministrazzjoni pubblika teħtieġ li tkun l-iktar viċin possibli taċ-ċittadin: min jamministra u jiddeċiedi għandu jkun l-iktar qrib possibli ta’ min hu effettwat mid-deċiżjonijiet. L-eċċezzjonijiet għandhom ikunu rari u altru milli ġustifikati. Jacques Delors, li kien President tal-Kummissjoni Ewropeja, hu ikkwota li qal li : is-sussidjarjetà ma tillimitax biss l-intervent ta’ l-ogħla awtorità f’dak li kull persuna jew komunità tista’ tiddeċiedi hi innifisha, imma hi ukoll dover ta’ din l-istess awtorità biex taġixxi b’mod li lil din il-persuna jew komunità tgħinhom biex iwettqu l-ħolm tagħhom.”

Dan jitfa dawl fuq żewġ aspetti tas-sussidjarjetà. L-ewwel li ħlief f’każijiet eċċezzjonali l-ogħla awtorità ma jindaħalx fejn ma jesgħahiex fil-ħidma ta’ awtoritajiet oħra taħtha. It-tieni : l-obbligu li tgħin biex tinkoraġixxi l-kisba tal-awtonomija.

Alternattiva Demokratika qed tipproponi li l-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà jkun aċċettat bħala prinċipju kostituzzjonali li jagħti gwida lill-amministrazzjoni pubblika u dan bħala l-ewwel pass għat-twettieq ta’ proposta radikali oħra: id-diċentralizzazzjoni tal-ħidma operattiva tal-amministrazzjoni pubblika lill-awtoritajiet lokali u reġjonali, bil-Gvern iżomm f’idejh il-funzjonijiet regolatorji. Dan jista’ faċilment jitwettaq fuq il-mudell ta’ Għawdex bid-differenza li jitmexxew minn politiku reġjonali flok minn politiku nazzjonali.

Id-dokument bil-proposti ppubblikat minn Alternattiva Demokratika jittratta diversi temi oħrajn bħalissa ċentrali fid-dibattitu dwar ir-riforma proposta tal-gvern lokali u reġjonali.

Is-servizz ta’ kull kunsillier lokali għandu jkun apprezzat, mhux biss is-servizz li jagħti s-Sindku! Il-proposta li l-uffiċċju tas-Sindku jkun wieħed full-time ma hemmx ħtieġa tagħha. Hemm diversi raġunijiet għal dan. Bħala riżultat ta’ din il-proposta dawk kollha li ma jistgħux jieqfu mill-impieg normali tagħhom ikunu esklużi milli joffru s-servizz tagħhom fil-kariga ta’ Sindku. Dan billi tali proposta teffettwa b’mod qawwi l-possibilità li huma jirrintegraw ruħhom fl-impieg meta jintemmilhom il-perjodu tal-ħatra tagħhom. Bla dubju jinħolqu ukoll kunflitti bla bżonn mas-Segretarju Eżekuttiv li l-liġi illum tikkunsidrah bħala l-uffiċjal amministrattiv ewlieni tal-kunsill lokali.

Flok ma tiffoka fuq is-Sindku r-riforma għandha tinkoraġixxi iktar il-ħidma kolleġjali fil-lokalitajiet tagħna b’mod li twassal għal sehem iktar attiv ta’ kull kunsillier fit-tmexxija tal-lokalitajiet. Il-proposta li qed jagħmel il-Gvern li kull kunsillier jingħata responsabbiltajiet hi tajba. Saret diġa minn Alternattiva Demokratika fil-konsultazzjoni pubblika dwar il-kunsilli lokali li saret fl-2008. Waħedha imma mhiex biżżejjed. Trid tkun segwita minn pass ieħor: li kull kunsillier jingħata onorarju raġjonevoli. Din m’għandiex tkun materja riżervata għas-Sindku.

Il-prinċipju tas-sussidjarjetà għandu japplika ukoll biex materji ambjentali jkunu regolati minn dawk li l-iktar jeffettwawhom mill-viċin. Li jkunu nvoluti sewwa l-kunsilli lokali u reġjonali f’dawn id-deċiżjonijiet għandu jwassal għal deċiżjonijiet aħjar minn dawk li għandna illum. Imma dwar dan, darb’oħra.

Il-konsultazzjoni pubblika dwar ir-riforma tal-gvern lokali u reġjonali issa ġiet fit-tmiem. Nistennew il-posizzjoni li ser jieħu l-Gvern dwar in-numru mhux żgħir ta’ proposti li saru. Nittama li jittieħdu bis-serjetà.

ippubblikat fuq Illum : 2 ta’ Diċembru 2018

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Subsidiarity in the Constitution

 

On Friday, a delegation from Alternattiva Demokratika met Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government Silvio Parnis to discuss the White Paper published by the government concerning the reform of local government.

During the discussion, we handed Mr Silvio Parnis our response to the White Paper, a response that contains eight proposals – the central one focusing on the need to accept and implement the principle of subsidiarity. The principle of subsidiarity needs to be constitutionally entrenched in order to serve as a guiding light to the country’s public administration and, consequently, protect local and regional government.

The European treaties have already entrenched the principle of subsidiarity as a basic tenet, regulating the complex relationship between European institutions and EU member states.

The principle of subsidiarity, mostly developed in the so-called Germanic states in Europe- namely Germany, Austria and Switzerland – which states have a robust local and regional arrangement, as a result of which responsibilities and the corresponding authority is spread.

Public administration should be as close to the citizen as possible: those administering and making decisions should be as close as possible to those who feel the impact of such decisions. Departure from this basic rule should only occur for reasons of absolute necessity. Former President of the European Commission Jacques Delors is quoted as having stated that subsidiarity is not only a limit on the intervention of a higher authority in the affairs of a person or community that can act itself, it is also a duty of this authority to act in relation to that person or community in such a way as to give it the means to fulfil itself.

This brings to the fore two aspects of subsidiarity. Firstly, that of non-interference by the higher authority in the workings of the lower authority, except in exceptional cases and, secondly, the duty to help – that is help that encourages autonomy.

Alternattiva Demokratika is proposing that the principle of subsidiarity be accepted as a guiding constitutional principle for the public administration as a first step to implementing another radical proposal: the decentralisation of the operational functions of public administration to the regions and local authorities with government retaining the regulatory functions. This can be easily carried out on the Gozo model, although with a regional elected politician replacing the current national politician in charge.

The document published by Alternattiva Demokratika deals with various other matters currently being debated as part of the proposed local and regional government reform.

The service of all elected local councillors should be appreciated, not just that rendered by the Mayor! The proposal to transform the office of Mayor in our localities into a full-time role is uncalled for and a number of reasons come to mind. It would automatically exclude all those who cannot take a sabbatical from their employment as it would have a long-term negative effect on their ability to adequately reintegrate when their mayoral term of office comes to an end. It would also create unnecessary conflict with the Executive Secretary, currently defined by the Local Council legislation as the chief executive of Local Councils.

Instead of singling out the Mayor, the local council reform should encourage a more collegial leadership, with all councillors being more actively involved in the running of the localities. The proposal in the White Paper to codify the duty to assign responsibilities to each elected councillor – a proposal first made by Alternattiva Demokratika and highlighted during the public consultation of 2008 on local council reform, is a good first step. It has to be followed by ensuring that all councillors receive a reasonable honorarium: this should not be a reserved for the Mayor alone.

The principle of subsidiarity should also be applied to regulating environmental issues closer to base. Involving regional and local councils in these decisions could lead to much better decisions than those we currently face. But more about that next time.

The public consultation has now been concluded. We await the reaction of the government to the large number of proposals made. Hopefully, these proposals will be seriously considered.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 2 December 2018

Taming the residential rental market

The proposals in the White Paper entitled Renting as a Housing Alternative is a breath of fresh air in the long overdue debate on the need to regulate the rental market for residential property.

As rightly pointed out in the White Paper, the Maltese community has developed an allergy to local rent regulation as, when it existed, it was generally too rigid. It oscillated from strict over-protection of the tenant to absolutely no controls.

For a very long time, we also ended up with temporary legislative provisions enacted during the war which were over-stretched too long after their useful life. In effect, this reluctance over the years to introduce proper landlord and tenant legislation effectively killed off the rental market for a long time and it is only as a result of this fact that Malta is a nation of home-owners: it would not have developed in this way, had the post-war governments got their priorities right.

The proposals put forward by the White Paper are generally a good step forward. If properly implemented, they will go a long way towards laying the foundations for a stable residential rental market based on adequate (and necessary) protection of both landlords and tenants. A serious debate is, however essential in order to avoid creating unnecessary difficulties.

The rental market is currently in a state of anarchy, where the only applicable rules that apply are those of the jungle – where might is right – because, so far, the state has abdicated its duties to protect the vulnerable from the excesses of the market. Subject to the three exceptions listed in the White Paper (temporary foreign workers, tertiary education students and temporary leases for persons repairing and/or upgrading their own homes) establishing the period of one year as the minimum length of a residential lease addresses the abuse currently resulting from short-term leases. Likewise, establishing as a duty of landlords to give a suitable notice period of their intention not to renew a lease is right and proper. It is in everybody’s interest that everyone is aware of their rights and duties, as this will lead to better planning on all sides and, consequently, to a more stable and civil relationship between landlords and tenants.

It was also about time that the deposit requested on the signing of lease agreements are properly regulated – both as to the actual need for a deposit, its quantum and the circumstances in which it would be reasonable for it not to be refunded. This is a subject about which countless stories of actual abuse on the part of both landlords and tenants abound and regulation of it will bring some sense into the subject.

It is also right that variations to the rent to be paid during the period of the lease are properly regulated,  thereby defining the limits of permissibility. Too strict a limitation, however, will lead to a preponderance of short-term lease agreements because the market prefers frequent rental revisions that enable the rent payable to be as close as possible to the full market value.

Registering lease agreements is a step forward. It will not only lead to a check to  ensure that agreements comply with the new legislation but will also have the potential to ensure that tax evasion associated with rent paid is history.

When considering the White Paper’s proposals, one should avoid introducing unnecessary exceptions as these will only serve to stultify the objective of the exercise: the development of a stable rental market for residential properties. In particular, the proposal in the White Paper to justify the premature determination of a lease agreement, when a landlord needs the property for his own use or in order to sell with vacant possession or else to redevelop it, is uncalled for. Given that the residential leases in question will most probably be short-term leases anyway (between one and five years) no harm will be done to anyone if the landlord patiently awaits until the end of the lease before taking back possession.

The current proposals, with the one exception referred to above, are an essential next step to help the residential rental market develop properly. On their own, however, they are insufficient because they must be supported by a Housing Authority that proactively addresses the needs of the vulnerable when facing the market, which is eager to fleece those who meekly submit themselves as they see no way of becoming homeowners!

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 22 October 2018

Daqqa ta’ ħarta oħra għall-ambjent

Commercialisation of Sports Facilities

Id-dokument ta’ konsultazzjoni dwar il-kummerċjalizzazzjoni tal-faċilitajiet sportivi li dwaru l-konsultazzjoni pubblika ġiet fi tmiemha llum hi daqqa ta’ ħarta oħra lill-ambjent ta’ pajjiżna.

L-iskop tal-Gvern hu biex ikunu mgħejjuna assoċjazzjonijiet u klubbs sportivi ħalli dawn jimmasimizzaw il-potenzjal tal-faċilitajiet tagħhom u b’hekk ikunu jistgħu jiffinanzjaw lilhom infushom.

L-iskop hu wieħed tajjeb.

Imma biex jintlaħaq dan l-iskop, hemm iċ-ċans, mhux żgħir, li nispiċċaw b’xi grounds tal-futbol barra mill-irħula tagħna mibnijin bi ħwienet u uffiċini u bil-ground tal-futbol fuq il-bejt, bħalma diġa hemm f’Tignè! U jekk inti toqgħod fit-tarf tar-raħal hemm ċans tajjeb li tkun tista’ issegwi partita futbol minn fuq il-bejt. Jekk tkun iffurtunat tkun tista’ issegwiha ukoll mill-kamra tas-sodda! Anke l-floodlights jispiċċaw idawlulek il-kmamar tad-dar. Tispiċċa tiffranka l-konsum tal-elettriku! Dan apparti l-problemi ta’ parking u l-istorbju, sajf u xitwa. Dan eżempju wieħed. Hemm bosta oħra.

Fi stqarrija li ħriġna Alternattiva Demokratika għidna li dak propost f’dan id-dokument ta’ konsultazzjoni, jekk implimentat, jista’ jkun il-kawża ta’ ħafna ħsara ambjentali kif ukoll ikollu effett neġattiv fuq iż-żoni residenzjali tagħna. Daqqa ta’ ħarta oħra għall-ambjent.

Transport planning : a long-term view required

new_road_traffictraffic congestion and GDP

 

The pre-budget document for 2016 published by the Finance Ministry projects a real GDP increase of 3.2 per cent the year 2016, yet at least half of this projected increase will be wiped out as a result of the impact of traffic congestion in the Maltese Islands.

In fact, earlier this year the University of Malta’s Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development published an EU funded study entitled The External Costs of Passenger and Commercial Vehicles Use in Malta. This study estimated that 1.7 per cent of our GDP is wasted annually as a result of traffic congestion, a conclusion reached after taking into account both the fuel wasted as well as the time lost.

It is in this context that one has to consider the Education Ministry’s White Paper entitled School Opening Hours and Traffic Congestion, published earlier this week. Unfortunately, the Education Ministry had to fill the void created by the Transport Ministry.

Traffic congestion is not caused by school transport alone – this is just one of many causes. The solution advocated by the Transport Ministry over the years has been to focus on the effects rather than the causes, with the result of even more space being ceded to cars. It has opened up more roads, widened existing ones and introduced flyovers. These “solutions” have encouraged more cars so that our roads are now bursting at the seams, with 340,981 licensed vehicles on the road at the end of the second quarter of this year.

This translates into 802 cars per thousand population, and most probably is the highest vehicle ownership profile in the world. It is even higher than the vehicle ownership profile of the USA (786). Comparing it to other EU countries, the figure for Italy is 682, the UK 516, Spain 592 and Switzerland 573. Even Luxembourg – at  741 per thousand is lower than Malta.

Such a large number of cars is not an indication of affluence. It is rather a clear indication of the failure of the state of Malta to realise that the smallness of these islands was an untapped benefit in developing policies that ensure sustainable access.

It is clear that, over the years, the state of public transport has been the single biggest incentive to private car ownership and use. Cars have been allowed to fill the void and take over our streets.

The cumulative impacts of this take-over has been a reduced access to public spaces in our towns and villages, a general deterioration of air quality and the associated respiratory diseases and accelerated urban decay in such areas as Pietà, Ħamrun, Msida, Paola, Fgura and Marsa.

This present state of affairs is the result of a lack of long-term planning. Transport planners in Malta preferred the easy way out: the construction of new roads, tunnels and flyovers engulfing more land as well as the creation of more parking spaces. The resulting impact compounded the problem: In the 25 years since 1990, the number of vehicles on the Maltese Islands roads increased by a staggering 145 per cent.

The situation was made worse by the removal of a number of bus termini in a number of localities, the decisions to build a number of schools in the middle of nowhere and having industrial zones not serviced by public transport.

In addition, the lack of enforcement of speed limits for vehicles making use of our roads served to squeeze out bicycles and small motorcycles as alternative means of transport.

This is the situation which has to be addressed.

The long term solution is an efficient public transport system and a corresponding decrease in the number of vehicles on the road.

The White Paper published by the Education Ministry is one such exercise, intended to reduce the number of vehicles on the road as a result of ferrying school children to and from schools in their parents’ private cars.

Better organisation of school transport, as well as more incentives to encourage its use, is a definite step forward. In addition, the  Education Ministry could try to ensure that the catchment areas of its secondary schools are not spread over a very wide area as this is one other contributory factor that has not yet been identified as an additional culprit.

The debate, however, has to be much wider than schools, because, at the end of the day, our schools are just victims of the accumulated lack of transport planning.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 6th September 2015

Bis-sulluzzu ma nsolvu xejn

traffic congestion

source : http://www.um.edu.mt/think/bad-traffic-bad-air/

 

L-Kamra tal-Kummerċ ikkritikat il-White Paper dwar l-impatt tat-trasport tal-iskejjel. Qalet li ma jistax ikun li niffaċċjaw sewwa l-problema tat-trasport bis-sulluzzu. Qalulna li rridu naraw l-istampa kollha u nfasslu strateġija olistika li tkun ibbażata fuq transport pubbliku li jkun b’saħħtu u effiċjenti.

Ġa ktibt dwar dan u ma rridtx innaqqas mill-merti tal-White Paper dwar it-trasport tal-iskejjel. Din il-White Paper tagħmel ħafna proposti validi (dwar l-iskejjel) imma naqbel mal-argument tal-Kamra tal-Kummerċ li bis-sulluzzu m’aħna ser naslu mkien.

Apparti dan għaddejjin affarijiet oħra.

Matul dawn l-aħħar ġimgħat il-Ministeru responsabbli mill-Kunsilli Lokali kien qed jiġbor informazzjoni mingħand l-istess kunsilli dwar il-ħinijiet li fihom jinġabar l-iskart mid-djar bl-intenzjoni li jivvaluta liema huma dawk il-kunsilli li s-servizz tal-ġbir tal-iskart tagħhom qed jagħti kontribut għall-konġestjoni tat-traffiku fl-iktar ħinijiet kritiċi tal-ġurnata.

Fi tmiem il-ġimgħa li għaddiet ħarġet sejħa dwar espressjoni ta’ interess dwar forom alternattivi ta’ transport bejn il-lokalitajiet fil-Port il-Kbir u l-Port ta’ Marsamxett.

Għadhom kif tħabbru rotot ġodda u rotot imtejba tat-trasport pubbliku.

Dawn huma kollha inizzjattivi tajba, imma kien ikun aħjar kieku kellna pjan wieħed komprensiv imfassal sewwa għal titjib sħiħ li jikkunsidra l-aspetti kollha u li kien jinkudi dawn il-proposti u oħrajn magħhom.

In-numru ta’ karozzi li għandna fit-toroq huwa kbir wisq għad-daqs ta’ Malta u qed ikompli jikber.

Ftit hemm għażliet li għandu quddiemu l-pajjiż. Il-karozzi mit-toroq iridu jonqsu u jeħtieġ li jonqsu sostanzjalment. Iktar kmieni din is-sena, f’artiklu li kont ktibt fl-Independent tal-Ħadd kont ippruvajt nagħti ċifra biex nieħdu idea dwar kemm hi kbira l-problema. Kont semmejt iċ-ċifra ta’ 122,000 karozza bħala n-numru ta’ karozzi li għandhom jonqsu mit-toroq tagħna. Fl-artiklu intitolat Reducing 122,000 vehicles from Malta’s roads nispjega kif wasalt għal din iċ-ċifra.

Li nipprovdu l-parking, inwessgħu t-toroq u niddisinjaw flyovers li jimpressjonaw iwassal biss biex jiżdiedu l-karozzi fit-toroq u jagħmel il-problema agħar milli hi. Kif fil-fatt sar matul dawn l-aħħar snin. Il- pajjiż ċeda t-toroq lill-karozza. Hemm bżonn li t-toroq neħduhom lura. Dawk ukoll huma tagħna lkoll.

Il-problema hi kbira ħafna u ser tkompli tikber. Minkejja li hemm ħafna rieda tajba biex naslu irridu nifhmu li ma nistgħux insolvu din il-problema bis-sulluzzu.

It –trasport tal-iskejjel

School Opening Hours Consultation

Huwa tajjeb li l-Ministeru tal-Edukazzjoni ppubblika l-White Paper dwar it-trasport tal-iskejjel. Kieku ippubblika dan id-dokument bil-Malti kien ikun ferm aħjar milli ippubblikah bl-Ingliż bit-titlu ta’ School Opening Hours and Traffic Congestion.

Huwa fatt li fil-ġranet tal-vakanzi tal-iskejjel (kemm fis-sajf, kif ukoll fi żmien il-Milied u żmien l-Għid) ikun hemm ħinijiet kmieni fil-għodu u anke għall-ħabta tas-2pm meta t-traffiku jkun mexxej ferm iktar mill-bqija tas-sena.

Iżda jkun żball li naħsbu li l-konġestjoni tat-traffiku hi ikkawżata mill-iskejjel biss. L-iskejjel jagħtu l-kontribut tagħhom għall-problema, prinċipalment minħabba li l-hin li fih jibdew l-iskejjel huwa ukoll il-ħin li fih bosta jkun sejrin għax-xogħol fil-għodu. Il-problema hi ferm ikbar u għandha l-egħruq tagħha fin-nuqqas li jkollna transport pubbliku effiċjenti għal ħafna snin.

Il-White Paper tagħmel ħafna suġġerimenti validi.

Fiż-żoni madwar l-iskejjel tgħidilna l-White Paper, hemm ħtieġa li t-toroq li minnhom jgħaddu bil-mixi l-istudenti fi triqithom lejn l-iskola jkunu taħt superviżjoni (organisation of supervised walking routes in localities). Dan hu suġġeriment validu ħafna u jfisser emfasi ikbar fuq il-ħtieġa li innaqqsu l-perikli mit-toroq tagħna fil-lokalitajiet. Sal-lum (forsi) jkun hemm pulizija ħdejn l-iskola li jżomm il-karozzi milli joqorbu ż-żejjed lejn l-iskejjel. Din il-proposta li ż-żona protetta tinfirex lil hinn mill-iskola hi waħda tajba għax twassal il-protezzjoni mill-iskejjel saż-żoni residenzjali.

L-għadma iebsa li tindirizza l-White Paper hi l-ħtieġa li t-trasport tal-iskejjel jibda jitqies mhux iktar skola skola, iżda fuq livell nazzjonali b’mod li ma jiddistingwix bejn l-iskejjel tal-istat u dawk privati jew reliġjużi. Forsi wasal ukoll iż-żmien fejn l-istat jibda jħallas għat-transport tal-istudenti lejn l-iskejjel privati u religjużi.

B’mod żbaljat il-White Paper ma teżaminax ir-rwol li jista’ jkollhom il-Kunsilli Lokali f’dan l-eżerċizzju kollu. Il-Kunsilli Lokali huma f’posizzjoni unika li jagħtu kontribut effettiv għax qegħdin fil-lokalità, u hi sfortuna li l-Ministeru tal-Edukazzjoni dan jidher li għadu ma fehmux. L-organizzazzjoni tat-trasport tal-iskejjel għandu jsir flimkien mal-Kunsilli Lokali li individwalment jew fi gruppi (fil-każ ta’ Kunsilli Lokali żgħar) jistgħu jassiguraw ferm iktar minn kulħadd illi t-trasport tal-iskejjel ikun organizzat skond il-ħtiġijiet tal-istudenti u mhux skond il-kundizzjonijiet iddettati minn min jagħti s-servizz tat-trasport. F’dan il-kuntest il-White Paper fil-fatt titkellem dwar konflitt bejn service providers u service receivers: ġustament tgħid li l-ħinijiet tat-transport hu ħafna drabi ddettat fl-interess ta’ min jipprovdi s-servizz, mhux fl-interess tal-istudenti.

Organizzazzjoni aħjar tat-trasport tal-iskejjel taħt id-direzzjoni tal-Kunsilli Lokali għandha twassal għal titjib fil-kwalità tas-servizz tat-trasport. Dan jinkludi b’mod partikolari l-imġieba tax-xufiera u l-puntwalità tas-servizz.

Dawn il-fatturi kollha flimkien jistgħu jħajru iktar ġenituri jutilizzaw dan is-servizz flok ma jwasslu lill-uliedhom huma stess bil-karozzi privati tagħhom sal-iskola.

Il-ħinijiet tal-iskola m’għandhomx għalfejn jinbidlu. Imma f’dawk il-każijiet fejn l-istudenti jaslu kmieni l-iskola, flok ma jitħallew jiġru barra għandhom ikollhom il-possibiltà ta’ attività extra-kurrikulari, taħt superviżjoni fl-iskola.

B’dan il-mod l-iskejjel jistgħu inaqqsu t-traffiku li jiġġeneraw.

Iva fil-principju: kontrolli fuq il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi

AD.Press Conference 080214

Alternattiva Demokratika taqbel fil-prinċipju mal-proposti fil-White Paper dwar il-finanzjament tal-politika iżda taħseb li bosta mid-dettalji dwar il-proposti li saru għandhom ikunu kkunsidrati mill-ġdid.  Alternattiva Demokratika b’mod konsistenti tul il-25 sena tal-eżistenza tagħha dejjem ħadmet favur ir-regolamentazzjoni tal-finanzjament tal-politika u tal-partiti. Alternattiva Demokratika ser tieħu sehem fil-konsultazzjoni pubblika u għal dan l-iskop ħejjiet dokument bil-proposti tagħha li dwaru tistenna li jkollha diskussjonjijiet mal-Gvern.

M’huwiex għaqli li l-awtorita regolatorja dwar il-partiti politiċi u l-finanzjament tagħhom tkun il-Kummissjoni Elettorali. Alternattiva Demokratika qed tipproponi li r-regolatur ikun il-Kummissarju dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Il-Kummissjoni Elettorali hi taħt il-kontroll esklussiv tal-partiti politiċi li hemm fil-Parlament iżda l-Kummissarju dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika, meta jinħatar, bil-qbil ta’ żewg terzi tal-membri tal-Parlament, għandu jkun mhux biss persuna ta’ integrita iżda fuq kollox persuna aċċettabbli għal faxxa iktar wiesa’ ta’ nies.

L-White Paper titkellem ukoll dwar ir-reġistrazzjoni tal-Partiti u tidħol f’numru ta’ dettalji dwar kif għandhom ikunu organizzati. Alternattiva Demokratika, filwaqt li taqbel mal-proposta ta’ reġistrazzjoni tal-partiti politiċi jidhrilha li l-White Paper tidħol f’ħafna dettalji żejda. Kien ikun ħafna aħjar kieku illimitat ruħha għall-essenzjali. Hemm qbil li r-reġistrazzjoni tal-partiti politiċi għandu teżiġi li l-partiti jkunu demokratiċi fil-ħsieb u fil-forma, imma ma hemm l-ebda ħtieġa li din tidħol ukoll fid-dettall ta’ kif taħdem l-organizzazzjoni interna ta’ partit politiku.

Hemm il-periklu  li ma tittieħidx konsiderazzjoni tad-differenzi fid-daqs tal-partiti u allura ukoll fir-riżorsi li dawn għandhom. Filwaqt li Alternattiva Demokratika tifhem u taċċetta li l-kontijiet tal-partiti politiċi għandhom ikunu soġġetti għal verifika, hu innutat li l-White Paper ma tiddistingwix bejn il-partiti l-kbar li għandhom turnover ta’ miljuni fis-sena u Alternattiva Demokratika li t-turnover tagħha ma jaqbiżx il-€15,000 fis-sena.   F’dan ir-rigward Alternattiva Demokratika qed tipproponi li fil-każ ta’ partiti politiċi li t-turnover annwali tagħhom ma jaqbiżx il-€100,000, l-ispejjes konnessi mal-verifika annwali jitħallsu mir-regolatur.

L-qalba tal-proposti fil-White Paper jirrigwardaw id-donazzjonijiet lill-partiti politiċi u kif dawn għandhom ikunu regolati. Alternattiva Demokratika jidhrilha illi l-limiti illi tipproponi l-White Paper huma għoljin wisq. Fil-fehma ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika, filwaqt li donazzjonijiet taħt l-€4,000 fis-sena għandhom jibqgħu protetti bil-kunfidenzjalita’, d-donazzjonijiet bejn l-€4,000 u l-€40,000 fis-sena għandhom ikunu pubbliċi u tingħata informazzjoni dwarhom lir-regolatur. M’ghandux ikunu possibli li donazzjonijiet jaqbżu l-€40,000 fis-sena.

L-White Paper ma titkellimx dwar self mill-partiti politiċi u in partikolari tinjora l-possibilita li s-self jista’ jintuża biex jostor donazzjonijiet u b’hekk ikunu evitati l-proċeduri ta’ trasparenza. Il-White Paper l-anqas ma teżamina l-kontrolli meħtieġa fuq l-attivita’ kummerċjali tal-partiti kif l-anqas ma teżamina kif jista’ jkun hemm iktar kontrolli effettivi dwar l-użu mill-partiti politiċi ta’ propjeta pubblika.

L-ammonti li l-White Paper tistabilixxi bħala l-għola infieq permissibli fil-kampanja elettorali huma għoljin wisq u għandhom jonqsu minn dak propost. Alternattiva Demokratika qed tipproponi illi l-infieq tal-kandidati m’għandux jaqbeż l-€4,000 fil-każ ta’ elezzjoni generali u €20,000 fil-każ tal-elezzjoni tal-Parlament Ewropew. L-infieq fil-kaz tal-elezzjonijiet tal-Kunsilli Lokali hu propost li jkun bejn €2,000 u €4,000 skond id-daqs tal-Kunsill.

L-White Paper tinjora l-limitu neċessarju ta’ infieq mill-partiti politiċi fl-elezzjonijiet. Dan m’huwiex aċċettabbli u jeħtieġ li jkun rimedjat meta titfassal il-liġi.

Matul il-gimgħat li ġejjin Alternattiva Demokratika tistenna illi tiddiskuti l-veduti tagħha mal-Gvern.

Tiftakru l-Bank of Vassallo?

Bank of Vassallo

Il-White Paper ippreżentata mill-Gvern il-bieraħ dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi hu pass tajjeb il-quddiem li dwaru Alternattiva Demokratika  tkellmet f’kull programm elettorali tagħha mill-1992 lil hawn.

Naqbel 100% mal-prinċipji ta’ trasparenza u kontabilita’ li l-White Paper tmexxi l-quddiem iżda hemm ħtieġa ta’ diskussjoni fil-fond fuq id-dettalji, ċjoe fuq kif ser titħaddem l-eventwali liġi.

L-ammonti dwar donazzjonijiet li huma proposti fil-White Paper huma għoljin wisq u għandhom jonqsu,  bħalma għandhom jonqsu l-limiti dwar l-infieq permissibli minn kandidati fl-elezzjonijiet diversi. Naħseb li hu esaġerazzjoni illi l-obbligu ta’ reġistrazzjoni jibda ma donazzjoni ta’ €10,000 kif tipproponi l-White Paper. Tajjeb li niftakru li €10,000 huma ftit iktar minn paga minima ta’ persuna waħda għal sena sħiha. L-ammont li jekk jinqabeż ikun hemm notifika dwaru għandu jkun ferm iktar baxx minn hekk. Fil-programm elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika għall-elezzjoni ta’ Marzu 2013 ipproponejna li dan it-threshold għandu jkun ta’ €4,000. Jidhirli li dan hu ferm iktar raġjonevoli minn dak li tipproponi l-White Paper.

Il-White Paper ma titkellimx dwar self li l-partiti politiċi jista’ jkollhom minn żmien għal żmien. Konna smajna ftit qabel l-aħħar elezzjoni ġenerali kif il-Partit Nazzjonalista kien issellef madwar kwart ta’ miljun euro mingħand il-Bank of Vassallo. Dakinnhar kien intqal li din kienet transazzjoni kummerċjali u li dan kien self li kien ser jitħallas lura.  Jekk tħallasx lura jew le ma nafx. Imma jibqa’ l-fatt li hu mċajpar fejn qiegħed il-punt ta’ diviżjoni bejn l-attivita’ kummerċjali  u l-ħidma politika tal-partiti politiċi. Il-White Paper m’hi xejn ċara dwar dan.

Hemm imbagħad it-taparsi self li jista’ jsir lill-partiti bħalma ġara fl-Ingilterra xi snin ilu. L-iskandlu fl-Ingilterra dakinnhar kien li dawn ma kienux każijiet ta’ self imma ta’ għotjiet sostanzjali moħbija biex jevitaw li jkunu dikjarati bħala tali. Dwar dan it-tip ta’ logħob il-White Paper hi siekta ukoll.

Fil-White Paper ma hemm l-ebda referenza għall-infieq permissibli mill-partiti politiċi waqt kampanja elettorali.  Nistaqsi: hu aċċettabbli li partit politiku f’Malta jonfoq il-miljuni f’kampanja elettorali? Jiena naħseb li dan it-tip ta’infiq hu esagerazzjoni.  Huwa nuqqas gravi li hu injorat. L- anqas ma huma raġjonevoli il-limiti l-ġodda proposti għal-infieq mill-kandidati.  L-€1,400 limitu tal-lum għal kandidat f’elezzjoni ġenerali hu redikolu u l-parti l-kbira tal-kandidati kienu jinjorawh.  Imma l-€25,000 limitu għal infieq minn kandidat għal elezzjoni ġenerali hu għoli wisq. Mhux għax m’hemmx min diġa jonfoq iktar minn hekk. Imma għax hu esaġerazzjoni li m’għandux ikun permess. L-elezzjoni mhiex battalja ta’ min jonfoq l-iktar, iżda battalja ta’ ideat. Eżerċizzju biex nikkonvinċu lill-elettorat mhux eżerċizzju ta’ l-isbaħ kuluri u parties. Biċ-ċifri proposti għal infieq li jkun permess il-White Paper qed tagħti messaġġ żbaljat.

Il-Kummissjoni Elettorali ma tistax tkun l-aħjar regolatur għax tul is-snin u għal raġunijiet storiċi ukoll ġiet ikkapparata mill-Partit Nazzjonalista u mill-Partit Laburista. Fil-Parlament bħalissa qed issir diskussjoni dwar l-istandards ta’ inġieba u etika fil-ħajja pubblika. Dak hu l-forum addattat. Hemmhekk il-Gvern u l-Opposizzjoni qed jaqblu li għandu jkun hemm persuna indipendenti li tissorvelja l-imġieba fil-ħajja pubblika. Tajjeb li l-finanzjament tal-partiti jkun regolat f’dan l-istess qafas.

Il-White Paper titkellem ukoll dwar il-ħtieġa tar-reġistrazzjoni tal-partiti u tipproponi diversi miżuri li bihom għandhom ikunu irregolati l-partiti politiċi. Naħseb illi f’dan il-qasam il-White Paper qed tidħol f’ħafna dettal żejda. Ikun għaqli li wieħed jillimita ruħu għal dak li hu essenzjali.

F’dawn il-ġranet il-Gvern permezz tas-Segretarju Parlamentari Owen Bonnici ser jibda proċess ta’ konsultazzjoni pubblika dwar il-proposti li saru fil-White Paper. Owen hu persuna li kapaċi tisma’.  Alternattiva Demokratika fi ħsiebha tiltaqa’ miegħu biex twassal proposti dettaljati dwar kif il-finanzjament tal-partiti jista’ jkun regolat b’mod adegwat.

B’hekk nassiguraw li mhux biss nagħmlu pass il-quddiem, iżda li dan il-pass ikun ukoll fis-sod.

ippubblikat fuq iNews l-Erbgħa 5 ta’ Frar 2014

Barely scratching the surface

The Noise White Paper, just published for public consultation, identifies the need to coordinate the existing fragmented administrative structures as its first target. This is being done in the belief that it will eventually lead to a smoothening out of administrative inconsistencies. Better coordination could also ensure that, in the long term, issues in respect of which the authorities have, to date, been reluctant to act upon can be addressed in an appropriate manner. Hopefully.

The White Paper deals with the abatement of neighbourhood noise. Its reach should have been much wider. It postpones dealing with the noise generated by fireworks and village feasts to some future date. Cultural aspects and tradition are reasons used to justify this postponement. In reality, the government at this time cannot withstand the anticipated reaction of the fireworks lobby, which has yet to come to terms with restrictions based on safety as is evidenced by reactions to the findings and recommendations of the November 2011 inquiry report on accidents in fireworks factories. Clearly, the government considers that now is not the time to regulate excessive fireworks noise. On the eve of a general election, votes are considered to be a more important consideration.

We have been informed (correctly) that the EU Environmental Noise Directive is not applicable to our airport because the traffic it handles is below the established threshold.

The White Paper does not address the issue of noise generated by aircraft approaching or taking off from Malta’s only airport when flying over residential areas. In particular, the impact of approaching aircraft on Birżebbuġa’s residential area at all times of the day (including during the night) comes to mind.

Now, to be fair, one must state that the airport cannot be transferred to any other site. The flight paths leading to the airport are fixed and their use is determined by the prevalent winds. Malta needs its only airport to be operational. Yet, its operation must be such that it does not cause unnecessary hardship to residential areas along the approaches to and around the airport.

This leaves only one option: regulating the airport’s operating times to restrict aircraft movements during the silent hours as is done at Heathrow, Brussels and Fiumicinio, to mention three airports with which readers are familiar.

The airport authorities need to encourage the use of less noisy aircraft through the determination of differentiated aircraft landing charges dependent on the noise generated by the aircraft. It is about time that the airport authorities start respecting the surrounding communities. This is a missing but essential element of the airport’s sustainable development strategy.

The Noise White Paper draws up a list of those authorities that are empowered to regulate some aspect of noise control. One would expect that the police, the Malta Tourism Authority, the health authorities and the Malta Environment and Planning Authority coordinated by the Noise Control Board to now be in a better position to ensure that commercial outlets (particularly those in a mixed use area) are no longer a nuisance to residents in the vicinity.

It should also be less problematic to deal with nuisance caused by air conditioners fixed in the most awkward places.

But noise does not only impact the health of human beings. It also has a health impact on flora and fauna. This is partly regulated through the Habitats Directive of the EU, which is an integral part of Maltese law.

It is positive that the Noise White Paper recognises this and emphasises the need to ensure its implementation. This should now place more onus on Mepa to ascertain that open-air activities generating excessive noise are immediately brought to order. Examples that come to mind are open air discos at Buskett, Paradise Bay and Ta’ Qali. The first two impact biodiversity in Natura 2000 sites and the last is too close to residential areas, particularly Attard. The aborted Mistra “Spin Valley Disco”, which the Nationalist Party and its stooges at Mepa defended before the 2008 election, would also fall foul of these provisions as it was sited right in the middle of a special area of conservation.

Excessive noise also has a damaging impact on the welfare of animals, both farm animals and pets. The impact of noise on farms and agriculture is completely ignored by the White Paper.

Fireworks regulations, for example, are only concerned with residential areas and the distances to be observed from areas that serve as a residence for more than 100 humans.

Excessive noise in agricultural areas severely impacts agricultural production (like milk, poultry, eggs, rabbits…) and can have a considerable economic impact.

It is up to the minister in question to decide whether to prefer the fireworks at the expense of negative impacts on animal husbandry. He may not worry unnecessarily as animals do not vote!

While the White Paper on Noise Prevention is welcome, it barely scratches the surface. We need to go deeper and tackle areas ignored by the White Paper because noise pollution is an issue that has been neglected for far too long.

 

This article was published in The Times of Malta , April 14, 2012

 

on the same subject on this blog :

7th February 2009 : The value of silence

7th November 2009 : When pigs are able to vote