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Principled proposals

Labour candidate Robert Abela writes: We have to sustain a culture of sharing of responsibilities and all this is based on the fundamental principle of equality of opportunities, rights and responsibilities

15 May 2017, 7:54am
Various economic sectors are booming, including the financial, eGaming, pharmaceuticals and aircraft maintenance
Various economic sectors are booming, including the financial, eGaming, pharmaceuticals and aircraft maintenance
The Leader of the Opposition prides himself on his honesty, on honest politics, and that for him electoral proposals are not important, but only principles. Barely a day later he changed tack, and has now irresponsibly started dishing out promises and electoral proposals which are outrightly not costed, or haphazardly costly. 

He went even further by proposing initiatives and pledges which the Labour government has already implemented successfully both in Malta and in Gozo. That is how consistent and credible Simon Busuttil is, without forgetting to mention the db Group saga and his flagrant breach of the law on party financing, the cedoli scheme, and the breach of EU rules by three Nationalist Party MEPs who have incorrectly spent part of their parliamentary allowance on renting office space at the Nationalist Party’s headquarters in Malta, rather than on local constituency offices, when it is clearly against the rules for MEPs to funnel allowances back to domestic political parties.

Today there is a consensus that our various economic sectors are booming, ranging from the financial and E-Gaming to the pharmaceutical and aircraft maintenance, and the hospitality sectors. At present we are indeed facing a rather scarce labour supply which is not matching our demand for skills. Our main asset has always been our human resource, our population estimated to be around 430,000 including around 30,000 foreign nationals who live here. 

Our community is transforming itself every day, gradually but steadily. Looking for example at the labour force participation for males and females, we find that over these last four years this has been steadily improving, particularly in the female gender. Male activity rate is 79% as against 53% female activity rate. Females are recording more positive results than males in formal education, notwithstanding that a higher percentage of males attend school. There is no doubt that there is an ever-increasing need for females to enter the labour market.

Talking about a life/family/work balance is not enough, but we have to sustain a culture of sharing of responsibilities. All this is based on the fundamental principle of equality of opportunities, rights and responsibilities in a transforming society with diverse roles at home, at work and everywhere else.

This basic principle has underlined the Labour government’s implementation of the free childcare scheme to facilitate females to enter the labour market, a socio-economic measure which has been very successful. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has truly kept his word on this electoral pledge, as  he has done on many other initiatives and pledges. The Leader of the Opposition, not to feel undone, has in a populist move proposed free childcare for all, never mind how much it costs and whether it is sustainable. 

This runs precisely counter to the fundamental principle on which free childcare has been implemented. But for honest Simon Busuttil, populist electoral pledges are indeed more important than principled proposals.

Free childcare as implemented by the Labour government has successfully served its social and economic purpose. To my mind, a discussion should be started in the next legislature on Caritas’ proposal to offer free childcare also for poor unemployed parents. This would in turn help to mitigate welfare dependency and expose these vulnerable children to equal opportunities and a healthier environment, away from the benefits trap. 

This is what principled proposals are all about. 

Robert Abela is a Labour candidate on the sixth district

DealToday
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