Pay our police, teachers and nurses more

We cannot be serious and expect miracles when we know that a police inspector starts off with a basic salary of €21,960

A Maltese police officer faces a task which requires some superhuman values and integrity, especially when it comes to the risk of compromises or even worse, kickbacks, when a police inspector starts off with a basic pay of €1,850 a month…
A Maltese police officer faces a task which requires some superhuman values and integrity, especially when it comes to the risk of compromises or even worse, kickbacks, when a police inspector starts off with a basic pay of €1,850 a month…

I have always wondered how anyone with a ridiculously low salary could be expected to fight crime and the complex structures of criminal gangs.

Malta’s police officers and investigators are up against criminals who possess not just the malice of their villainy, but also the money – loads of it – to fight and undermine the police, with the ruthlessness to use anything in their arsenal to stop the law.

To put it mildly, a Maltese police officer faces a task which requires some superhuman values and integrity, especially when it comes to the risk of compromises or even worse, kickbacks, when a police inspector starts off with a basic pay of €1,850 a month… perhaps climbing to €2,200 with seniority and allowances.

In today’s world of criminality and the sophisticated world of white-collar and financial crime, the millions in cash that flow from drugs, prostitution and human trafficking, smuggling and fraud, are also becoming hard to chase down.

There is no doubt that Malta needs a well-oiled prosecutors’ office that will attract the best brains with the best qualifications in return for a suitable remuneration: an office that will leave no stone unturned in investigating and prosecuting, and that will serve as the sentinel of the police corps.

But we cannot be serious and expect miracles when we know that a police inspector starts off with a basic salary of €21,960: that starting wage must be doubled at the very least. It is unacceptable that executive officers tasked with the job of bringing down hardened criminals are paid peanuts. More so if we consider the size of Malta and the hidden networks that exist.  We need to build a robust force that is rooted and structured in deep tradition of crime-fighting, with well-paid individuals. It is a must.

Furthermore, senior officers should have high wages that will at least bring them at par with top management in a private company. We need to keep the best people in the police force not see them depart to the fields of finance, law, or private security.

The same malaise exists in two other public sectors which are essential to Malta’s human development – these are the backbone of our education and health services: the teachers and nurses. Not headmasters or doctors, just simply all teachers and health workers.

It is evident from most schools, that there are not enough teachers to support the curriculum and not enough nurses to sustain the high level of health care. The solution is definitely a financial one. The majority of nurses and teachers work in the public sector and if we really want to guarantee that our future generations get the best possible deal, investment in this sector is the only way to ensure that we get the best students and the best healthcare.

Today, students face a crisis because the number of people interested in taking up a teacher’s job is dwindling and the number of Maltese and Gozitans attracted to the nursing profession is not exactly healthy. Once again, the decision to raise the attractiveness of this profession is dependent on the political will to dispense higher budgets.

That political will has to be motivated to act soon and fast.

And there is no doubt the funds to improve the lot of our police force, teachers and nurses: the National Development and Social Fund. Time to put this money to good use.

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The President has been put to task for piloting, as is expected of him, Constitutional reform. The grouping Repubblika have raised questions about the suitability of George Vella to steer such a reform.

Vella responded by saying that the group was jumping to conclusions, for he had every intention to listen to everyone.

What he did not say, but I am sort of sure he would have loved to say, is that the group could quite resist the opportunity to reveal their prejudice and political bias.

Now, I know that most people change and make compromises and amend their views. Some even have the sensibleness to accept that they have made mistakes. But I still cannot fathom that the brains behind this unstructured NGO are representative of that posse of individuals who can never really accept the fact that the administration they worked for and which had similar faults to today’s administration, is no longer pulling all the strings in the corridors of power. 

It does not require a complex thinking process to realise that I am referring here to the former side-kick of former minister Austin Gatt – the man who when the going got tough, could not quite remember why he had a Swiss bank account.

What a pity that so many foreign journalists continue to base many of their observations on the well-packaged drivel of these angry ex-functionaries.

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