Government fails to tackle poverty

In the past four years more people are living in poverty and at the risk of poverty. In its budget for 2013, GonziPN fails to tackle the underlying causes that are producing this poverty.

The National Statistics Office reported recently that the average disposable income stood at €22,403. There are 63,593 persons whose income is nearly a quarter of this average income and are living at risk of poverty.

Year after year, government has abandoned these thousands of persons to their fate. For years, government has failed to draw up and implement an action plan to reduce poverty.

The most vulnerable persons in our society continue to be people under 18, those over 65 and people living on the margin of society - i.e., people with disabilities, single mothers and people with different sexual orientations and people suffering from mental health problems.

In fact the NSO report shows that persons living in households with dependent children tend to be more prone to being at-risk-of-poverty. Persons living in single-parent households were most at-risk-of-poverty, at 47%.

At least 17% of our families are living in households that are deprived of a car, a colour TV, the adequate income to keep their residence warm, and to take a week's holiday away from home once a year. Around 6% are considered as severely materially deprived.

Compared to the EU, Malta's at-risk-of poverty and social exclusion rate of 21.7% is lower than the EU27 average of 24.8. However, between 2005 and 2011 the EU rate was getting lower, while the Maltese rate was getting higher almost every year.

The only hope that these thousands of persons at risk of poverty have for a better life is a change of government. The Labour Party in government will put measures to tackle and reduce poverty at the top of its agenda through wealth and job creation and a fairer society were wealth is distributed equitably.

National interest betrayed

Geologist Dr Peter Gatt says that an oil concession map issued by the Malta Resources Authority that is prejudicial to Malta's continental shelf rights in the east and "effectively results in the loss of several hundreds of square kilometres of Maltese continental shelf area, including the potentially oil-rich Medina Escarpment, not far from where BP plans to drill a number of oil wells on the Libyan side".

Dr Gatt says that this is not the only instance where those in authority have failed their responsibility to uphold the national interest where oil exploration is concerned.

Dr Gatt says that the full extent of Malta's continental shelf rights has not been divulged to the public and the world.

He says that maps published by research institutes, oil companies and a local newspaper in 2010, show boundaries that reflect Italian claims which are prejudicial to Malta's western shelf rights. The authorities have never challenged these maps despite claims that Malta is "fighting for every inch" of its continental shelf.

However, local journalists have repeatedly queried Government's silence on presumptuous Libyan concessions to Sirte Oil Co. over our Medina Bank.

 

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