Dad, political sociologist, local councillor, drummer from Malta

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Energy Roadshow

Yesterday’s Parliamentary Debate on Malta’s energy plans did not result in any significant development on the matter.

On the one hand there were hard-hitting questions from Nationalist members of Parliament and also from Labour’s Marlene Pullicino. The main focus was on Labour’s broken electoral promise to have the new gas plant ready by March 2015.

There were also various questions regarding the financial and contractual aspects of Government’s plans as well as on various factors such as renewable energy, total energy supply and so forth.

On the other hand, Labour maintained its stand on reduced tariffs for households and business and on the general drift of Government’s plans.

It is obvious that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will not resign on the matter, but it is also obvious that the credibility of the Labour

Government received a blow, particularly when this was a flagship theme in Labour’s electoral campaign in 2013.

The lack of transparency on various aspects of Government’s energy plans does not help things, particularly when energy policy is inherently related to management of risk. For example, it is not clear what will happen after 5 years pass from electricity prices. Civil society is in the dark on specific aspects of the renewable energy plans. The talk of Malta as an energy hub is not being substantiated, and the lack of impact assessments adds mystery to the plot.

For all its worth, the delay in the development of a gas power plant may be worth the wait. This would be the case when the Marsa power station is dismantled, when Malta frees itself from oil dependency and if gas and renewable energy provide Malta’s energy requirements through diversified options in terms of provision.

Chinese investment might bring Enemalta back to financial stability, though there is rarely such a thing as a free meal. Possibly such financial outlay might be linked to the talk of Malta as an energy-exporting hub. Alternatively, it might shift Malta’s energy dependency from one source to another.

As far as the electoral term goes, the Labour Government can thus recoup loss of credibility sustained during these past days, though this is also overdetermined by other issues.

In this regard, Labour is performing well in areas concerning civil liberties and policies such as childcare and educational services, and as far as European election results go, Labour solidified its historic 2013 general election victory.

On the other hand it remains to be seen if Labour will deliver on a myriad of promises concerning precarious employment, sustainable finance and public transport, among others.

Labour’s policies – often characterized by conflicting promises - and performance can lead to implosion or to a hegemonic formation. It’s a long road to the next general election.

This blog also appears in Malta Today (24/10/14) as 'Little Transparency About Our Energy Roadshow' - Link: http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/comment/blogs/1000000132/little_transparency_about_our_energy_roadshow#.VEoQbBaTDWd

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