[WATCH] UHM weighs in on transport mayhem in Budget proposals

Traffic, a work contract portal and free school lunches amongst 12 proposals presented by the UHM

Massimo Costa
5 October 2017, 12:57pm
UHM CEO Josef Vella
UHM CEO Josef Vella
The UHM is proposing a public-private partnership scheme to create park and ride parks across Malta, enabling people to park their car and catch a fast shuttle service to their destination.

This, the UHM said, would be an immediate and relatively easily attainable way of improving the current traffic situation. It emphasised that such an plan would also require a system to ensure that the shuttle buses could get to their destination efficiently, without ending up stuck behind other traffic.

The union acknowledged that there were currently numerous solutions to the transport problem being discussed, but many of them where medium or long-term measures.

The proposal was one of 12 unveiled by UHM chief executive Josef Vella in a press conference today, ahead of next week's budget.

The union is also proposing the creation of an electronic portal for work contracts, through which everyone working in Malta would have a registered work contract. Such a system would ensure that all workers, including those from the EU and third countries would have their basic employment rights protected.

The system would also provide work contract templates and types, preventing the creation of contracts which are not drawn up in the correct format or which not not adhere to all the applicable employment laws.

The creation of workers’ cooperatives is once more being proposed, with an emphasis on cooperatives for those working in the health sector. Such cooperatives, Vella said, would help workers advance in their careers and earn more through their work.

On pensions, Vella said they should be appropriate and sustainable. “The First Pillar pension system, funded through National Insurance contributions, is not adequate,” he added. The union maintains that a Second Pillar pensions system, based on payments by the employer and employee, has to be implemented.

Vella also spoke of the importance of good nutrition for children, and said that the UHM was proposing free nutritious school lunches. The internet was also essential for young people, and free internet for families in danger of poverty is another proposal.

An annual training fund with a strong emphasis on ICT, for those seeking training, along with allowances for parents who choose to continue their studies, is being proposed with the aim of encouraging people to educate themselves further. The union further proposes that exam centres should be built in every town, allowing students’ to only have to travel a short distance to sit for their exams.

“Crowdfunding is another area which is increasing in importance,” Vella said. In this regard the union proposes that the government provides crowdfunding incentives, together with adequate laws to ensure the system works properly.

The union is also suggesting that the Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) be applied to the tax bands, ensuring that nobody ends up jumping into a higher tax band as a result of the annual increase.

Regarding property, the union proposes government incentives for eco-buildings, together with an exemption on capital gains tax on buildings which have been left empty for more than five years, with the aim of encouraging owners to put their property on the market. Moreover, non-residential properties should not be categorised under the first-time-buyer scheme.

Public holidays where another area which needed attention, Vella maintained, and in this regard the union proposes a fixed annual rate for those who work on public holidays.

Vella also spoke of the surplus, saying that the sale of passports and igaming are a big part of the surplus. He asked if these were sustainable in the future. He said it was "not enough to have a short-term plan" and called for a more coordinated long-term plan for economic growth and prosperity.

Massimo Costa joined MaltaToday in 2017 as a journalist. He is a graduate in European Stud...