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frank_psaila
Frank Psaila

Thriving, not just surviving

Edward Scicluna’s budget addresses the needs of families and individuals in need in the short-term, but not in the long-term

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila
26 October 2016, 9:26am
The government failed to explain what its long-term economic strategy is – when the funds from the Individual Investor Programme peter out, the current construction boom slumps and the economy stops growing at its current rate
The government failed to explain what its long-term economic strategy is – when the funds from the Individual Investor Programme peter out, the current construction boom slumps and the economy stops growing at its current rate
The economy is doing well. It has solidified over the past two years. The deficit is shrinking. But wealth generated did not filter down to all categories. The government sought to address the most needy in the 2017 budget. In the short-term, Edward Scicluna’s budget addresses the needs of families and individuals in need. In the long-term, it does not. Throwing money at the problem helps to alleviate it in the short term. To eliminate the problem, you need long-term solutions.

The measures intended to support low-income families; pensioners and vulnerable persons must have been welcomed by the thousands of families and individuals in need. Measures such as the increase in supplementary income, carers’ allowances, rent subsidies and revised thresholds for the tapering of benefits were focused on vulnerable groups. However, budget 2017 is short on measures to create new jobs and attract new investment to Malta. This is what those on low income badly need. The government should focus its energy and attention towards creating better paid jobs in the private sector. Enabling people to thrive not survive should be the government’s top priority. The government has also failed to explain what its long-term economic strategy is – when the funds from the Individual Investor Programme peter out, the current construction boom slumps and the economy stops growing at its current rate.

The politics of sex

According to a 2012 report by the Department of Health, 40 per cent of Maltese aged between 16 and 18 were sexually active. Recently, two minors were arraigned for having sex, a criminal offence under Maltese law. It’s been a year since then Children’s Commissioner Helen D’Amato told a parliamentary committee that consensual sexual activity between minors should be decriminalised. Common sense dictates that this should be the way forward. If minors choose to have sex, for whatever reason, they’re going to do it, regardless of the law. Sexual activity amongst minors should be addressed through social not judicial means. Instead of prosecuting minors for sexual activity, what is needed is better education about sex and relationships.

Paceville

The St Julian’s local council is frustrated, and rightly so, by the refusal of the Planning Authority to grant a public meeting to Paceville residents over the proposed master plan. It’s beyond me how a master plan can be drawn up without consulting the residents.

Gender Expression Bill

The Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender and Gender Expression Bill spearheaded by Minister for Civil Liberties Helena Dalli is a step in the right direction. This bill seeks to affirm that all persons have a sexual orientation, a gender expression and a gender identity and that no combination of these three characteristics constitutes a disease, illness, disorder, deficiency, disability or shortcoming. The bill also provides for a much needed ban on conversion practices against variations of sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity.

Morning-after pill

It is ridiculous to have lobby groups campaigning for the distribution of the morning-after pill over the counter. Its availability should have been a non-issue. The government should have allowed the total liberalisation of the contraceptive pill without the need for the Women’s Rights Foundation to file a judicial protest against the State calling for the pill to be licensed.

Air Malta

Air Malta employees are at a loss about their immediate future. Negotiations with Alitalia seem to be going nowhere. I fail to understand why they started in the first place. Alitalia is losing €500,000 a day. According to media reports, Etihad is considering terminating its partnership with the Italian carrier. Media reports ‘revealed’ that should negotiations with the Italian carrier fail the government plans to reduce the size of Air Malta’s fleet. Last year, before talks with Alitalia started, Air Malta’s board had already decided to reduce its fleet from 11 to eight planes. This decision was met with disapproval by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and the Air Malta unions. A bipartisan approach is crucial if Air Malta is to continue flying. Our national carrier is an important asset for our tourism industry. Hundreds of direct, and thousands of indirect jobs are at stake.

Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV. He was formerly...
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