Sociologist, Local Councillor, Activist from Malta

Monday, June 18, 2018

Ageing as a process - Michael Briguglio

A paradox of our times is that we are living in ageing societies, but the public sphere seems to give relatively less importance to issues concerning the elderly. In previous articles in this newspaper, I wrote about challenges related to today’s and tomorrow’s pensions: today I want to focus on the concept of ageing in relation to social policy.
Very often we relate ageing to old age rather than to a life course process. We associate old age with increased public expenditure, healthcare issues, dependency on other persons and end of life. Isn’t it strange that in a society which increasingly focuses on the individual, less importance is being given to the individual merits of every elderly person? These may include one’s experience, knowledge, wisdom, contribution to others and so forth.
I myself regularly meet so many elderly persons who are willing to contribute to society, for example through voluntary work. Is society listening to their voices? Sometimes it does, but I often get the feeling that elderly persons do not get the respect they deserve.
Social policy can play a major role for healthy ageing and for increased respect towards the elderly. We require more policies that work as a trampoline to empower people during their life course rather than disempowering and impersonal bureaucratic hurdles that act ‘after the event’. Social policy should constantly equip each individual for the opportunities and risks she or he encounters.
I also believe that rather than simply focusing on old age, ageing policy should be more forward looking and focus on ageing as a social process. The needs of elderly persons today should retain prime focus, but we should also ensure that the elderly persons tomorrow are protagonists in society.
In this regard, evidence-based policymaking would acknowledge that ageing is shaped by both biological and environmental factors. The former requires inclusive policymaking in areas such as healthcare.
The latter includes social, political and economic environments ranging from housing to open spaces, from employment to food, from transport to accessibility and from pollution to physical activity. Indeed, ageing should not only concern the Minister for the Elderly, but should be on the agenda of different ministries and disciplines.   
Policymakers should ensure that as people grow older, policies, cultures and individual actions value healthy ageing. This approach is sometimes referred to as active ageing, and its focus is based on people’s life course and on the prevention of chronic conditions and inequalities as one grows older. This approach can have specific policies for specific stages in people’s lives and actively address deprived groups. 
Different governments have adopted commendable policies in this regard: some examples that come to mind are the lifelong learning initiative, the University for the Third Age and policies which encourage healthy eating among students.
However, we need to keep in mind that Malta requires much more investment to promote active ageing. We need to ensure that physical exercise and sports are mainstreamed and not considered to be a luxury.
We need to ensure that deprived groups have access to extra-curricular educational activities, and we need to increase awareness on challenges such as mental health, loneliness, sustainable consumption and healthy eating. We also need to ensure that Malta’s development model does not keep robbing us of open spaces, clean air and a healthy environment.
Various active ageing initiatives do not cause a strain on the public purse. What is required is a change in political culture which values longer-term policies. We also need to move away from politics based on sensationalism towards policymaking that is based on sober, well-researched and flexible approaches that marry vision with holistic public consultation.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Kont tad-dawl li jisraq lill-poplu – Michael Briguglio


Huwa ċar daqs il-kristall li l-ARMS qed tuża metodu illegali fil-kontijiet tad-dawl u l-ilma u li għandha trodd flus lura lill-eluf ta’ konsumaturi. Il-kontijiet mhux qed jiġu kkalkulati skond il-liġi, għax din tgħid li t-tariffa tal-konsum għandha tiġi ibbażata fuq konsum kumulattiv kull sena.



Kull xaharejn, l-ARMS qed tisraq lill-konsumaturi b’dan il-mod:



Il-kont qed jiġi maqsum f’perjodi iqsar, u l-konsumatur malajr jibda jkollu jħallas b’rata iktar għolja minn dik imwiegħda ta’ 10ċ5. Permezz ta’ kontijiet attwali ta’ kull xaharejn, il-kwota annwali ta’ 2,000 unit b’10ċ5 u  4,000 unit b’12ċ9 qed jiġu maqsuma f’kwoti iżgħar.



Anke jekk il-konsumatur jibqa’ fil-kwota annwali, xorta hemm ċans tajjeb li jkollu jħallas iktar: Hemm konsumaturi li qed iħallsu rati sitt darbiet għola – ta’ iktar minn 60ċ għal kull kwh.



Ħafna familji qed jitilfu ukoll l-eko-riduzzjoni. Familja ta’ hamsa u resident waħdu it-tnejn għandhom l-istess 2,000 unit b’10ċ5.



Iżda familija ta’ ħamsa kienu jibbenefikaw minn skont jekk jibqgħu taħt il-kwota annwali. Bis-sistema ta’ kont attwali kull xaharejn, din ukoll qed tintilef f’ċertu każijiet. Permezz ta’ dawn il-kontijiet l-ARMS qed tibbenefika minn cash flow kull xaharejn minn fuq dahar il-konsumatur.



L-ARMS qed takkumula ukoll rati ta’ interessi għal min ma jistax iħallas u l-istess nies qed jiġu mhedda li jitneħħielhom is-servizz jekk ma jħallsux. Barra min hekk iridu jħallsu biex jerġa jinghatalhom is-servizz. Dan żgur mhux l-aqwa żmien għal konsumaturi li għandhom dħul baxx.



Problema oħra hi li bosta persuni li jgħixu f’propjeta’ mikrija qed iħallsu rati domestiċi u mhux residenzjali, u għalhekk ma jibbenefikawx mill-eko riduzzjoni u jħallsu rati għola.



L-iktar gruppi li qed jintlaqtu hażin mill-metodu ta’ l-ARMS huma familji kbar, pensjonanti u residenti barranin: imbasta l-gvern jgħid li hu favur il-familja u li jrid jattira barranin biex jgħixu f’Malta.



Hemm ukoll taħwid kbir fis-sistema ta’ l-enerġija mill-pannelli foto-voltajiċi. Imbasta l-gvern jitkellem favur enerġija nadifa.



Il-Partit Nazzjonalista jistenna li r-Regulatur tas-Servizzi l-Enerġija u l-Ilma u l-Awtorita’ tal-Kompetizzjoni u l-Konsumatur jieħdu azzjoni kontra dan l-abbuż minn monopolju. Jekk dan ma jseħħx, il-Partit ser jieħu azzjoni legali sabiex issir ġustizzja. Barra min hekk, meta jkun fil-Gvern, il-Partit Nazzjonalista ser jagħti refużjoni lil min ġie misruq.



Ta’ min ifakkar li l-Eurostat dan l-aħħar ikkonfermat li Malta kellha t-tielet l-għola żieda fil-prezz ta’ l-elettriku fl-Unjoni Ewropea fis-snin 2016 u 2017, meta l-prezz ta’ enerġija kien stabbli.



Ta’ min ifakkar ukoll li minflok kontijiet irħas b’25 fil-mija, bħal ma wiegħed Konrad Mizzi, pajjiżna qed jissusidja b’40 miljun dollaru fis-sena lill-kumpanija statali ta’ l-enerġija ta’ l-Ażerbajġan.



Il-kwistjoni tal-kontijiet tad-dawl u l-ilma turi li permezz ta rieda tajba u determinazzjoni, l-oppożizzjoni Nazzjonalista hija vuċi pożittiva u b’saħħitha.

Dan l-artiklu deher fil-Mument, 17 ta' Ġunju 2018

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Kandidatura MEP / MEP Candidature - Michael Briguglio

(English version follows)

Ħbieb,

Fl-2019 ser nagħlaq 25 sena attiv fis-soċjetà ċivili u fil-politika.

Matul dawn is-snin tgħallimt li leħen is-soċjetà ċivili jista' jkun b'saħħtu u qawwi. Kont attiv f'kampanji li rnexxew, bħal dawk għas-sħubija fl-UE, il-ħarsien tal-ambjent, id-drittijiet ċivili u l-istipendji tal-istudenti kif ukoll kwistjonijiet lokali fir-rwol tiegħi ta' kunsillier lokali mill-2003. Tkellimt dwar kwistjonijiet bħall-governanza tajba, id-drittijiet tal-ħaddiema u d-drittijiet tar-residenti.

Ir-rwoli tiegħi varjaw tul dawn is-snin, iżda l-għan tiegħi ta' soċjetà aktar demokratika, inklużiva, deċenti u ħanina dejjem baqa' l-istess.

Ftit ġimgħat ilu l-Partit Nazzjonalista stedinni nikkontesta l-elezzjonijiet tal-Parlament Ewropew. Ħsibt u rriflettejt dwar din l-istedina u xi jiem ilu ddeċidejt li naċċetta.

Permezz tal-kandidatura tiegħi, nixtieq inkun ħolqa bejn in-nies, is-soċjetà ċivili u l-Unjoni Ewropea. Nixtieq nirrappreżenta l-valuri tas-solidarjetà, il-ġustizzja, id-dinjità u s-sostenibbiltà u nixtieq naħdem fl-aħjar interess ta' pajjiżna mal-kandidati sħabi.

Qatt ma kont baħri tal-bnazzi, u mhux ser inkun issa. Ser inleħħen it-tħassib tan-nies b'mod sensibbli. L-appoġġ tagħkom ser jgħinni niġġieled mingħajr biżà għal dak li hu sewwa.

Nittama li tirbaħ ir-rieda tajba,

Michael Briguglio
#malta #riedatajba
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Dear friends,

2019 will mark my 25th year as an activist in civil society and politics. 

During these years I learned that the voice of civil society can be strong and powerful. I was active in successful campaigns such as EU membership, environmental protection, civil rights, students' stipends as well as local issues in my role as local councillor since 2003.  I spoke about issues such as good governance, workers' rights and residents' rights. 

My roles varied during these years, but my goal for a more democratic, inclusive, decent, solidaristic society always remained the same. 

A few weeks ago the Nationalist Party approached me to contest the European Parliament elections. I deliberated and reflected on this invitation and some days ago I decided to accept.

Through my candidature I want to be a bridge between common people, civil society and the European Union. I want to represent the values of solidarity, justice, dignity and sustainability and I  will work in the best interests of the country with my fellow candidates. 

I was never a fair weather sailor, and I won't be now. I will voice people's concerns in a reasoned way. Your support will help me fight for what is right, to speak up without fear or favour. 

May goodwill prevail,

Michael Briguglio

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Consumers getting higher energy bills - David Agius & Michael Briguglio

Image result for MARSAXLOKK TANKER
Malta Today 13 June 2018

Thanks to a few vigilant citizens, it has become apparent that the ARMS’s billing system is illegal and one which owes thousands of consumers anything between a few euro to a few hundreds of euros each.  Malta now boasts a monopoly (ENEMALTA) which employs another entity (ARMS) to issue bills. These bills are not being issued as the law states clearly, that is “a Consumption Tariff based on a cumulative consumption per annum.”
This means that the bills are being issued more frequently, every two months, with accumulating interest rates and a threat of being cut off the grid (plus fee to re-instate) if they do not pay.
Every two months, ARMS is cheating consumers out of their yearly quotas:
By splitting up bills into shorter periods, consumers quickly start to pay at much higher rates than the promised 10c5. Actual two-monthly bills means that annual quotas of tariffs 2,000 units at 10c5 and 4,000 units at 12c9 are being cut up into smaller quotas.
Even if the consumers stay within the total annual quota, they are getting billed at higher bands. Consumers can end up paying at rates six times higher – at over 60c per kwh.
Many families are also losing their eco-reduction. A family of seven or a single resident both get the same 2,000 units at 10c5.
But a family of seven used to get a discount if it stayed under an annual quota. With two-month bills, this too is being lost in certain cases.
Thanks to two-month actual bills (pay or incur interest) ARMS also gets to enjoy a strong two-monthly cash flow – at the consumers’ expense.
Another problem is the fact that many tenants are paying domestic rates rather than residential rates, which means that they have no chance to enjoy the eco-reduction and they pay at higher rates.
The worst hit are large families, pensioners and foreigners living here – so much for family friendly measures and attracting people to Malta.   
And another set of issues still relates to the PV generation not being registered. So much for renewables.
There is the huge number of mistakes being made by ARMS which results in hundreds of people visiting their offices (co-incidentally one of them located inside the GWU building).
All these problems work in favour of ARMS. None of the errors favour the consumer.
Of course, ARMS send consumers to check their meter (at a fee), or to blame the “Estimate” or “No reading”. Sometimes they blame the law. But this has little to do with the meter, nor with the law.
It only has to do with the new procedure which ARMS is employing despite the fact that the law is clear.
This abusive behaviour by a dominant monopolist needs to be regulated by Regulator for Energy and Water Services (REWS), the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA), and the European Union needs to take action.
But failing that, we promise, that if it is necessary, we can take further action ourselves and file a class action lawsuit on behalf of consumers who are owed their money back.
Furthermore, Adrian Delia, Leader of the Nationalist Party, has already made it clear that a PN government would give back this stolen money to our families.
This matter has been further confirmed by Eurostat. It was clearly stated that Malta registered the third highest increase in electricity prices across Europe. The Eurostat news release stated that “Across the EU Member States, the highest increase in household electricity prices, was registered in Cyprus, followed by Romania and Malta (+7.1%).”
This statistic is for the years 2016 and 2017, a period when the energy
prices were stable.
Consequently, this is yet another proof that the Maltese and Gozitan people are paying more for their energy and water bills.
This is another confirmation that our first sample of 100 bills is correct.
The Nationalist Party will keep voicing people’s concerns: the same people who are receiving more frequent and more expensive utility bills; the same people who were promised cheaper utility bills by Konrad Mizzi but who are now subsidising the Azerbaijani gas provider by $40 million a year.
The Nationalist Party was, is and will continue to be the people’s party. People should not be robbed. We are determined not to let this daylight robbery continue. 
The Nationalist Party is ready to take legal action to ensure that people are not robbed.
We are following the matter closely in this regard.


Filmat: Is-sigurta' fit-toroq priorita'? Michael Briguglio



F'dan il-vlog f'The Malta Independent niddiskuti s-sigurta' fit-toroq ta' Malta. Tista' tara l-filmat billi tagħfas fuq dan il-link:

http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2018-06-12/blogs-opinions/Safer-roads-for-everyone-6736191523


Monday, June 11, 2018

Growth, deterioration - Michael Briguglio



Times of Malta, 11 June 2018

The situation in Malta indicates that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) statistics do not necessarily measure the well-being of the country. GDP measures the economic output of a country and the income generated from this output.
Social scientists know that GDP has several flaws, including that it does not cover non-marketed activity, such as housework and voluntary activities, and that it does not make allowances for environmental degradation. Unfortunately, however, other indicators create more problems than they solve, and so the GDP indicator has not, so far, found a worthy competitor.
However, the situation on the ground in Malta strengthens the argument that while GDP may be increasing, the quality of life may be deteriorating.
There is ample evidence to support this assertion. Let us start by giving a look at the environmental degradation.
Recent official statistics reminded us how Malta tops European levels of built-up areas and pollution, the latter courtesy of one of the oldest car fleets on the continent. Besides, we are now witnessing the massacre of hundreds of trees with government’s blessing.
So, in this regard, we have seen a deterioration not an improvement.
Another area where Malta has experienced a deterioration in the quality of life is the lack of enforcement. The government recently announced that it will clamp down on dust pollution and other construction malpractices, but its inexistent enforcement in other areas, such as car emissions and irregular occupation of tables and chairs on public land does not augur well.
We are also witnessing lack of investment in the infrastructure. Pavements and roads have been left in a bad state, leading to various car accidents on the roads and people getting hurt on the pavements.
The figures produced by the NSO clearly show that the ratio of capital investment, which includes public works, by the government is falling. In this regard, it is positive that the Muscat government will be using EU funds obtained by the Gonzi government to upgrade roads, but implementation is the key.
The long-needed upgrading of the Kappara junction ignored recommendations by stakeholders such as bicycle users, rendering it unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. The upcoming road agency will not be subject to basic government procedures in terms of accountability, and local councils are being side-lined in the process.
Let’s hope that selection of roadworks will not be based on partisan criteria.
The general policy direction taken by the government on planning and development is also leading to a deterioration in the quality of life. The overdependence on construction, flourishing of petrol station permits on ODZ land, the large number of construction permits with huge cumulative impact on residents’ quality of life, the unplanned high-rise policy and the general lack of proper impact assessments are some examples in this regard.
Hence, Malta is witnessing a lowering of standards in various activities thus undermining the rate of improvements following EU accession.
At the same time cost of living realities such as rent spikes and increase in the prices of basic commodities mean that thousands of people are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet.
Surely, this is not the best of times for pensioners, low- income earners and others experiencing precariousness.
Apart from these material affects, there are also moral ones. The increased levels of corruption and the bad example being given by persons close to the Prime Minister that it pays to cheat are bringing about a general social malaise. 
Sometimes one has to figure out whether to make hay while the sun shines, whether to join those who can’t be beaten, whether to give up on values such as fairness, equity and meritocracy or whether to do the right thing despite the odds.
Do we want our children to grow up in such a sad social context?
All this shows that an average of seven per cent per annum growth since 2013 has had uneven impact and has made us increasingly dependent on economic sectors that have sustainability challenges.
Social scientists who wish to show that GDP growth does not really translate into quality of life improvements can use Malta as a good case study.