UHM presents Budget 2012 proposals

Union Haddiema Maghqudin says more incentives are required to increase female participation in labour force, calls for Labour Action Plan for job creation and protection.

UHM secretary-general Josef Vella has called for the creation of a section within particular ministries with the sole mission to identify job creation.

These sections, together with the Malta Enterprise, Chamber of Commerce, and Maltese embassies would be required to create a common action plan.

“Work creation and protection requires regulation within the new employment systems which are resulting in self-employment and outsourcing. UHM has nothing against any of these but there needs to be a national policy which understands and reduces system abuse in these situations,” Vella said.

Vella also said incentives are also required for the successful implementation of an Active Labour Policy to run smoothly on a long-term period.

On the Active Labour Policy, a statistician from the National Statistics Office Clyde Caruana said that although there has been progress over the last 10 year where female participation in the labour force is involved, still more incentives are required to increase the number.

“ETC figures show that there are more women in the labour force with an increase of 60%. This is good but not good enough. We need to find inspiration from Nordic countries and the United Kingdom to create measures and policies,” Caruana said.

The statistician emphasised that not everything that works abroad would work in Malta and good concepts need to be adapted to suit Malta.

“I propose a reform of the benefits scheme to have a ‘tapering effect’ as in the UK benefits system. Instead of completely removing social benefits from those who find work after being so reliant on social benefits, I suggest the amounts are slowly reduced once they start working and removed once fully able to support themselves,” Caruana said.

Vella warned that the 2012 Budget may result in taxation of minimum wage which the UHM wholly disagrees with. “We believe taxing minimum wages will have a negative effect on the Maltese economy. A reduction of Tax Bands would have a more positive effect if appropriately implemented,” Vella said.

Hydrologist and engineer Marco Cremona discussed environmental proposals and said the Maltese mentality regarding the environment needs to change to include economy-related issues. “Improving or caring for the environment is not just about planting trees and plants to the landscape. Eco-contribution, improving water usage, vehicle scrapping schemes and a more wholesome Regulating Authority for the environment are four proposals to consider,” Cremona said.

Cremona explained that although progress has been recorded over the past in recycling, targets still have not been achieved and not enough attention has been paid toward waste generation.

“Recycling targets still have not been achieved but we must also focus on reducing waste which in turn would allow recycling targets to be more easily reached,” Cremona stressed.

The hydrologist stressed that better water usage is required in Malta because there is only a finite amount of water available for extraction from the island’s water table.

“Contrary to popular belief, not all water is taken from reverse osmosis and we are using more water than we should. There needs to be more rigorous measures to provide alternative water supplies and educate people on more economical consumption of water,” Cremona said.

Regarding the vehicle scrapping schemes, Cremona said that the recently concluded scheme should be extended for another year or so due to its success and the possibility to improve the situation in Malta.

“I also believe there should be a scheme to replace cars with scooters of certain specifications for a more efficient reduction in traffic. Why replace a car with another car when there is a traffic problem here?” Cremona said.

There are three authorities currently responsible for implementing environmental protection directives but, according to Cremona, they tend to overlap and “are lacking in enforcement capabilities”.

“We propose that the three authorities should merge into one strong authority to implement a National Environment Policy which can be properly enforced and regulated,” Cremona said.

Vella added that enforcement was also required in the discipline regarding exploitation of social benefits and fiscal evasion. He said that there needs to be a more effective deterrent system to restrict abuse from occurring.

“We also need to maintain a just and adequate system regarding the COLA mechanism and Household Budgetary Surveys need to increase in frequency whilst future and current pensioners need to be reassured by the government that they will receive a guaranteed minimum pension of 60% of the national median income,” Vella said.

the suggestion that scooters should be encouraged in Malta is a particularly good one. We have always wanted to get one for the house so that anyone can use it when the weather is good (nearly all the time) and when there are short distances to cover (nearly all the time)... unfortunately there are no incentives for this, especially because there is no respect for ppl on scooters on the road, and this NEEDS TO CHANGE. The government shoudl launch an info campaign that ppl on bicycles and scooters need to be respected. And in case of an accident, car drvier should always take the blame. Now that would be a good initiative! reduce CO2 emissions ten fold from a car to a scooter, at least.