Update 2 | ‘What is your social policy?’ Puli asks government

Labour government has no social plan and no funds for it, Opposition MP Clyde Puli says.

The 2014 Budget failed to outline the government's strategic direction in social policy, Opposition MP Clyde Puli said today.  

As Parliament discussed the budget estimates for the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity, Puli argued that the government lacked a cohesive vision which would lead to the creation of a fair society.

"I did not expect the minister to implement a five-year plan in one year but I expected the minister to at least outline the government's targets and how the government intends to achieve them."

However, Puli said, the budget only announce the launch of green papers, white papers and consultation processes.

"This confirms that after spending almost 25 years in opposition, Labour is not prepared to govern and lacks a roadmap in social policy. The crying game is over and now that you are in government the time has come to implement policies."

Puli said he was also concerned because minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca had put aside existing strategies, such as the Out of Home Care programme, without replacing them with new ones.

"It is clear that this government has no ideas and no funds. Instead it is trying to gain time by starting from scratch and going back to the drawing board."

He accused the government of not having a social plan, saying "This administration does not know what its social plan is and does not know how it will be financed."

Moreover, Puli said that the government's plans to bankroll its social policy through the controversial sale of citizenship, was even more worrying, because the government had given up on achieving economic growth.

"We are seeing the former Socialist party failing to provide resources  for housing and social welfare, however it did not have any problems in finding funds to dish out jobs to party insiders."

Puli added that the commodification of citizenship was "one of most extreme forms of capitalism" and asked what social model the government envisioned.

"Previous PN administrations introduced the free market but this was always kept in check and we always ensured that the common good prevailed. On the other hand, Labour which formally opposed the free market is now advocating the sale of citizenship. What will be commodified next? Where will this attitude take us?" Puli asked.

Highlighting the contradiction in the government's policies which ranged from the botched push back of migrants to the sale of passports to wealthy foreigners, Puli said that the government was choosing between "money and life," and asked "on what principles is social policy being built upon?"

Opposition MP Mario Galea said the budget failed to allocate more funds to a number of programmes which he said needed more resources to address growing problems in elderly care.

"We do not know what your roadmap is," the former parliamentary secretary for elderly care said.Asking what the government is doing to create new nursing beds, Galea said that these would not be created by simply issuing an expression of interest.  

While noting that in its first eight months in office, the government had failed to create new bed space for the elderly, Galea said that the government had created a new "clique" at the St Vincent de Paule residential home.

"These political appointments and promotions have even bothered staunch Labour supporters," Galea said. 

The opposition's spokesperson on disability, Stephen Spiteri called for more pro-activeness in the sector and urged the government to introduce measures which facilitate the entry of disabled persons in the labour market.

Spiteri praised the government for implementing the guardianship programme for persons with mental disabilities and the increase in day centres.

However he said that the government needed to do more to encourage persons with disability to work and lead an independent life.

Arguing for positive discrimination, Spiteri said "The budget has a number of measures which encourages people to enter employment, however not much was done to create jobs and the same applies to persons with disability."

One asks Mr Clyde Puli how many of his dreamed of policies were implemented. He should also be told that the free market the Nationalist administrations introduced was the consequence that poverty was again being experienced by the lower earning individuals after being eradicated by Labour when the party won the election of 1971 under the leadership of the late and never forgotten Mr Dom Mintoff.