Sociologist from Malta

Monday, November 09, 2009

‘Budget with a hazy vision’ AD

Commenting on Government’s 2010 Budget, Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, said: ‘The Budget has a hazy vision. It has positive and negative aspects, but all in all, it remains to be seen whether the quality of life of most low and middle income earners shall improve. Various positive proposals are not clear, and it remains to be seen whether they will actually be put in place.

It is positive that Government shall increase investment in education, and we agree with Government’s direction for a more comprehensive educational system.

It is also positive that Government shall increase investment in childcare centres, though this needs to be a national priority so as to have a proper work-life balance. Much more needs to be done so that parents who work can have affordable and accessible childcare services.

Alternattiva Demokratika - The Green Party also agrees with the help given to small businesses in the forms of microcredits, the COLA revision and increase in help to foster carers. The increased expenditure in research is also positive, but we hope that this is actually carried out unlike previous years where funds sometimes remained unspent.

On the negative side, Government has confirmed that it will keep penalizing people who are careful in their use of water and energy, as the compensation given is not realistic. AD believes that wasteful practices and not social needs should be penalized.

As regards Government assistance for solar energy, it is positive that the budget for photovoltaics has increased, though this is also not enough. But it is negative that Government will restrict help for solar water heaters only to certain groups, who probably do not afford such investment in the first place. Malta needs around 50,000 solar heaters to meet its energy targets, and yet many people who live in apartments cannot avail themselves of this type of energy.

Government is also stating that it will see how drainage waste water will be re-used, yet fails to say how. The same can be said for Government’s vague proposals on reduction of hospital waiting lists and the pharmacy of your choice scheme. The country needs action, and not rhetoric.

Government has confirmed that it will encourage use of old Euro 3 buses, rather than the cleaner Euro 5 buses.

As regards motorboats, it is ironic that Government shall reduce tariffs mostly to those which pollute the most. This goes against the polluter pays principle.

AD – The Green Party would have liked the budget to properly address Malta’s social, environmental and economic priorities by introducing an increase in the minimum wage and by generating Government revenue through taxing speculation of vacant properties (from the third vacant property onwards), taxation on Banks’ windfall profits and introducing meters for those who extract water illegally from boreholes’.

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