Politicians without a plan: who prepared us for the labour influx and construction madness?

Muscat would have never been elected had he called for 40,000 more foreign workers, land reclamation, or pledged the sale of St George’s Bay in 2017…

It is all very well to spout rhetoric in order to be elected, but when policies affect the lives of ordinary people, politicians have a lot to answer for.

We are seeing it in the US, as a Government shutdown goes into its 34th day, because Trump is insisting that his notorious wall is paid for by taxpayers, but his petulant demands are being blocked by a Democratic congress which has refused to approve the budget. Who is suffering the most because of this standoff? Ordinary people who work for government departments and entities and who have been forced to take unpaid leave, or told to go back to work without pay. They are missing their mortgage payments and those who live from pay cheque to pay cheque are finding it difficult to pay for their basic needs.

Without these employees, a wide range of sectors throughout the country are being effected: national parks are being vandalized and waste is accumulating. Airport security, the Coast Guard, the Food and Drug Administration and countless other essential services are also at risk.

We are seeing a similar scenario being played out in the UK, where those who pushed so hard for Brexit did not quite seem to have a plan in place for actually seeing it through. It was all very well to dupe voters into thinking that waltzing out of the EU would be easy-peasy, but in reality, it is much more complicated than that (who knew?). Two years down the line and with the deadline of 29 March fast approaching, it would be funny if it were not so tragic.

Again, the ones who are bearing the brunt of these short-sighted decisions are ordinary folk, who do not know what will happen post-Brexit, because it is obvious that no one was thinking that far ahead. Meanwhile, scenarios they were assured would never happen are happening, as major companies are leaving the UK to set up their base elsewhere - including very vocal pro-Brexit businessmen such as Sir James Dyson who is moving his vacuum-making company to Singapore. “It has nothing to do with Brexit, or lower taxes” he has assured the public. OK, if you say so.

Meanwhile, in our own little patch, the issues which are of the most concern to ordinary people were not even part of any electoral campaign. Let’s be honest: if Joseph Muscat had campaigned on the platform of “we need 40,000 more foreign workers in Malta” or “we will give Corinthia and DB group large tracts of public land for peanuts”, or “we will embark on land reclamation in pristine areas by using the construction waste from the excavation for the Gozo tunnel”, or “developers will be given a free hand to build whatever they want”, I really doubt he would have swept into power with such a large majority.

But those four issues are probably the ones which are affecting ordinary people the most as they try to grapple with the repercussions of these decisions.

Reading the Times of Malta interview with the head of JobsPlus, Claude Caruana, he makes compelling arguments about why we need so many more thousands of workers from other countries from an economic point of view. Yet the fact remains that the harsh reality of this sudden surge of so many thousands descending on Malta has not been well-planned and has only led to anger and resentment.

Our infrastructure and law enforcement was not ready for it, nor was our official bureaucracy as I constantly see new arrivals asking in bewilderment on social media about some very basic things.

Of course, they should also do their homework before coming here, but if you are actively encouraging people to come and live here as the Government is doing, then the onus is on you to make that transition as smooth as possible, rather than letting foreign nationals flounder by themselves. There should be a one-stop shop where those who have relocated here can get all the information they need at one go rather than having to rely on second-hand information or be shunted from one department to another.

The other side of the coin is that no-one prepared the Maltese people for this new wave of residents either. Now they are being told that thousands more are to be expected; a prospect which is understandably viewed with alarm because, read my lips, the island is already too crowded.

No matter which way you slice it, you cannot get away from that stark fact, and that is the crux of the whole matter. It is foolish for any administration to believe that you can just wave away these concerns though more political spiel about a booming economy. When one’s day-to-day interactions are being soured because you are constantly bombarded by a heave of people wherever you go, it is inevitable that it gives rise to irritability and annoyance. Having enough space is not only preferable for a good quality of life, but it is psychologically essential.

A tiny island already teeming with people, with a sudden influx of more thousands, where construction has taken over the little land we have left, and where the greedy ones are now eyeing the shore as well – this to me is a recipe for disaster. But what do I know? I’m no politician, and as we have seen, they will say anything (or leave a lot out) in order to be elected.

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