Sociologist, Local Councillor, Politician from Malta
MEP Candidate - Partit Nazzjonalista (EPP).

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Ċekkijiet u pensjonanti – Michael Briguglio



Meta n-nies jirċievu r-rifużjonijiet tat-taxxa, huma jkunu qed jirċievu dak li għandhom dritt għalih mill-ħlasijiet li jkunu għamlu lill-gvern. Normalment jirċievu avviż dwar dan fid-dikjarazzjoni tat-taxxa tagħhom u daqshekk. Iżda issa l-gvern ħa pass ieħor permezz ta’ manuvra pubbliċitarja: il-Ministru għall-Finanzi Edward Scicluna organizza konferenza tal-aħbarijiet biex iħabbar li kienu ser jintbagħtu ċekkijiet speċifiċi, li ntbagħtu flimkien ma’ ittra ta’ propaganda lil eluf ta’ ħaddiema.

Fl-istess ġimgħa, xi ħadd qalli sarkastikament li l-flus tat-taxxa li qed jitħallsu lura lin-nies diġà ħallsu għalihom l-istess nies permezz tal-kontijiet tad-dawl u l-ilma ogħla minħabba l-metodu illegali li bih qed jinħarġu l-kontijiet. Fuq il-mezzi soċjali oħrajn iċċajtaw li l-flus li ngħataw lura jistgħu jintużaw għand l-ispiżjar biex jinxtraw prodotti kontra t-tniġġis, u xi wħud qalu li l-ftaħir tal-gvern dwar ir-rifużjoni kien insult għal dawk li qed jitħabtu biex iħallsu l-kirja jew id-dar tagħhom. F’messaġġ fuq Twitter, l-opinjonista tat-Times of Malta Andre Debattista rrefera għal din bħala politika ‘tal-ħobz u taċ-ċirku’, jiġifieri politika maħsuba biex tnessi lin-nies il-problemi l-aktar serji.

Bosta oħrajn qed jgħidu li l-gvern qiegħed jinsa l-fatt li 95,000 pensjonant f’Malta qed isibuha dejjem aktar diffiċli li jlaħħqu mal-għoli tal-ħajja minħabba spejjeż dejjem ogħla fl-isfond ta’ rata tal-inflazzjoni dejjem tiżdied. Kif inhuma l-affarijiet, madwar 22,000 pensjonant qegħdin f’riskju ta’ faqar: żidiet fl-ispejjeż tal-fjuwil, tal-kontijiet tad-dawl u l-ilma, tal-ikel u bosta ħwejjeġ oħra qed jagħmlu s-sitwazzjoni agħar.

L-ogħla pensjoni tal-gvern f’Malta hija madwar €13,200 u l-unika konsolazzjoni hija li dawn il-pensjonanti huma eżentati mit-taxxa. Iżda bil-kontra ta’ ħaddiema eżentati mit-taxxa huma ma jkunux gawdew minn ċekk tal-gvern. Nistieden lill-qarrejja jagħtu ħarsa lejn battibekk pubbliku reċenti fuq Twitter bejn Alfred Mangion u l-Ministru tal-Finanzi għal aktar tagħrif dwar il-kwistjoni.

Dan iwassalni għal artiklu li nirrakkomanda ta’ Carmel Mallia (Times of Malta, 7 ta’ Settembru) dwar dak li l-pensjonanti qegħdin jistennew mill-baġit. Mallia jfakkar lill-qarrejja tiegħu li l-Alleanza tal-Organizzazzjonijiet tal-Pensjonanti ilha tisħaq dwar l-importanza ta’ pensjonijiet adegwati għal dawn l-aħħar għaxar snin.

Huwa importanti li wieħed jinnota li rapport reċenti tal-Kumitat Ewropew għall-Protezzjoni Soċjali u l-Kummissjoni Ewropea kkonferma li l-pensjoni taż-żewġ terzi tal-gvern mhijiex biżżejjed, xi ħaġa li anke jien tkellimt dwarha f’artiklu reċenti f’din il-gazzetta.

B’rabta ma’ dan, Mallia jirrapporta kif ir-rata medja ta’ dħul relattiv għal persuni akbar fl-età (65+) naqset bejn l-2008 u l-2016, li n-nisa qegħdin f’sitwazzjoni agħar u li hemm diskriminazzjoni fuq bażi ta’ età f’għadd ta’ miżuri introdotti fil-pensjoni taż-żewġ terzi, jiġifieri fl-introduzzjoni ta’ limitu għad-dħul massimu pensjonabbli, il-pensjoni minima nazzjonali garantita u fir-rievalwazzjoni li ssir kull sena tal-pensjoni.

Ir-rapport imsemmi juri li persuna ma tistax tgħix b’pensjoni biss f’Malta u jafferma li d-diskrepanza bejn dak li jaqilgħu n-nisa u l-irġiel fost il-pensjonanti hija waħda mill-akbar fl-UE. Iżid li matul il-perjodu eżaminat (2008-16), ir-rata ta’ dawk f’riskju ta’ faqar jew tal-esklużjoni soċjali għal persuni akbar fl-età żdiedet, speċjalment għal dawk li għandhom 75 sena jew aktar, avolja kien hemm titjib fejn tidħol id-diskrepanza relattiva tal-faqar għal persuni li għandhom 65 sena jew aktar.

Ir-rapport imsemmi dwar il-pensjonijiet jirrakkomanda wkoll indiċizzazzjoni xierqa tal-pensjonijiet biex tittaffa l-erożjoni tas-setgħa tax-xiri tal-pensjonanti. Din għandha tinkludi ġabra ta’ prodotti u servizzi meħtieġa minn persuni akbar fl-età. Il-formula rrakkomandata tirrifletti kemm l-inflazzjoni fil-pagi (50 fil-mija) kif ukoll l-inflazzjoni fil-prezzijiet bl-imnut (50 fil-mija).

Dan jirrakkomanda wkoll il-possibbiltà li n-nies joħolqu l-iskemi ta’ pensjonijiet tagħhom minflok dik tal-istat. B’rabta ma’ dan nixtieq inżid li l-gvern attwali waqqaf l-isforzi li kienu qed isiru qabel f’Malta biex tiġi inkluża pensjoni tat-tieni pilastru li tista’ tgħin biex jitrawmu r-responsabbiltà u s-sostenibbiltà.

Meta wieħed iqis li eluf ta’ pensjonanti qed ibatu biex jirniexxielhom ilaħħqu mal-għoli tal-ħajja, wasal iż-żmien li l-Ministru tal-Finanzi jintroduċi miżuri sostantivi fil-baġit li jmiss. Inkella, ser ikollhom ikomplu jagħmlu sagrifiċċji personali jew jiddependu minn sorsi oħrajn ta’ dħul u għajnuna, jekk dawn ikunu disponibbli għalihom, biex ilaħħqu.

Malta teħtieġ kunsens nazzjonali dwar il-politika tal-pensjonijiet: ejjew nintrabtu li jkollna solidarjetà bejn il-ġenerazzjonijiet fi ħdan soċjetà li jimpurtaha.
Dan l-artiklu deher fil-Mument, 30 ta' Settembru 2018

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Budgetary Proposals - Michael Briguglio

In today’s Malta, around 72,000 persons are at risk of poverty and around 3.3 per cent of the population is severely deprived. The latter figure is better than that of previous years, but this is no consolation for those who are facing daily misery. In view of Malta’s upward inflation rates, one also awaits the publication of more recent statistics.
In this regard, the government did introduce some positive measures in the past years. The most obvious one is free childcare centres for parents who work, though I believe that this be extended to all parents, so that all children can benefit from the service.
Another is the tapering of benefits, which intends to make work pay for persons who were erstwhile dependent on social benefits through in-work benefits such as the temporary retention of benefits over a three-year employment period.
Consequently, welfare-dependent persons decreased by 43 per cent to 7,940 over a six-year period. Still, I ask whether such persons are being employed in jobs which are decent, whether the government’s concurrent methods for removing persons off welfare benefits are based on dignified methods and whether some people are shifting from the official welfare system to the underground economy. Qualitative sociological research in this regard could provide relevant data.
According to the European Commission, Malta is also awarding inadequate pensions, and latest Eurostat figures confirm that the price of utility bills increased by 7.1 per cent between 2016 and 2017. The price of housing is shooting upwards: the most recent Global House Price Index by Knight Frank says that house prices in Malta have increased more than in any other country in the world.
The latter may bode well for property owners, and one wishes them well as regards their economic investment, but on the other hand it is resulting in new forms of poverty such as the impossible situations faced by young people who wish to start an independent life and by elderly persons who live in rented property.
In the meantime, inflation in Malta keeps going up. According to Eurostat the Maltese rate now reads 2.4 per cent as at August 2018, double the figure of August 2017 and higher than the eurozone average of two per cent. The eurozone inflation rate decreased by 0.1 per cent to two per cent in August compared to the previous month, whereas the Maltese rate increased by 0.3 percentage points in the same period. 
The highest increases in Malta were in the prices of restaurants and hotels, transport and food and non-alcoholic drinks respectively, whereas the highest decreases were in the price of clothing and footwear. Fuel prices have increased too, adding to woes of drivers in Malta’s congested traffic jams.
Last year’s budget gave a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) weekly payment of €1.75 to workers, and government topped this up by another euro in what seemed to be an admission of faulty methodology in the COLA mechanism. In previous years the COLA payment was of €1.75 in 2017 and 2016 respectively, €0.58 in 2015 and €3.49 in 2014.
I endorse trade unions’ request for a revised and realistic COLA mechanism. Basic items such as food should have more weight in the basket of goods as they make up for a greater percentage of expenditure of low-income earners.
I also believe the government should give decent increases to pensioners. Let us keep in mind that the latter tend to be involved in much invisible and unpaid work ranging from taking care of grandchildren to voluntary work. But they then face increased costs in goods and services from healthcare to leisure. The government should also kick-start a proper debate on sustainable pensions in the spirit of national consensus.
Other budgetary measures which I would expect include proper assistance to current and prospective tenants who cannot afford rent prices. This method could be introduced without distorting the property market.  The government should also settle the utility bills controversy by refunding the thousands of people who have been receiving higher bills through an illegal mechanism.
Malta’s economic growth should be enjoyed by everyone. The government is increasing people for the economy: what we should have is an economy for the people.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

X'Unjoni Ewropea irridu? Michael Briguglio



L-Unjoni Ewropea qed tħabbat wiċċha ma' sfidi importanti f'għadd ta' oqsma differenti. Fl-istess waqt ma rridux ninsew li l-UE għamlet u għadha tagħmel ħafna kisbiet, li aħna kultant ma napprezzawx.



F'dawn l-aħħar għaxar snin, il-kriżi finanzjarja dinjija wasslet biex il-kundizzjonijiet ta' għajxien ta' ħafna nies imorru għall-agħar madwar l-Unjoni. Iżda l-eqqel tal-kriżi jidher li għadda u xejriet reċenti wrew titjib ekonomiku f'diversi pajjiżi, pereżempju rati aktar baxxi ta' qgħad. Madankollu, anke meta l-istatistika turi xejriet pożittivi, it-tbatija ta' kuljum li jgħaddu minnha bosta individwi ma għandhiex tiġi injorata. Analiżi soċjali xierqa għandha tikkonċentra kemm fuq fatturi kwantitattivi kif ukoll fuq fatturi kwalitattivi.



L-UE ħadmet, u għandha taħdem aktar, biex trawwem politika soċjali li tintegra l-ġid ekonomiku mal-ġid soċjali. Għandu jkompli jiġi żviluppat investiment soċjali permezz ta' tagħlim tul il-ħajja, l-għoti ta' setgħa liċ-ċittadini, u l-kapital uman sabiex l-individwi jkunu mgħammra biex jiffaċċjaw ir-riskji u l-opportunitajiet fil-ħajja ta' kuljum tagħhom.



Il-mudell ekonomiku Ewropew għandu jipprova wkoll isib bilanċ bejn ir-rwol tal-Unjoni bħala ċentru ta' kummerċ dinji u l-istandards soċjali, ekonomiċi u ambjentali għoljin tagħha. Jista' jinħoloq aktar xogħol fl-UE jekk tingħata aktar importanza lill-investiment f'setturi bħall-enerġija: dan ikun siewi wkoll minn perspettiva ġeopolitika.



B'rabta ma' din il-perspettiva, qed isir dejjem aktar ċar li l-UE teħtieġ politika barranija koerenti u strateġija komuni għas-sigurtà jekk trid li jkollha leħen b'saħħtu fuq il-livell dinji. Id-dipendenza tal-UE fuq l-Istati Uniti fil-qasam tas-sigurtà bħalissa hi inċerta, u Ewropa maqsuma tista' tkun ta' ħsara għall-Ewropa u ta' vantaġġ għal setgħat dinjin oħrajn.



Fl-istess waqt, madankollu, nemmen li l-Unjoni Ewropea għandha tagħti aktar spazju lir-realtajiet nazzjonali, reġjonali u lokali fi ħdan qafas ġenerali tal-UE. Eżempju tajjeb ta' dan huwa l-politika tal-UE dwar it-tibdil fil-klima, li għandha mira waħdanija tal-UE iżda miri nazzjonali differenti fid-dawl tas-sitwazzjonijiet differenti f'kull stat membru. B'dan il-mod, l-istati membri tal-UE qed jaqsmu s-sovranità tagħhom billi jkollhom leħen aktar b'saħħtu fid-dinja iżda li xorta waħda jirrispetta r-realtajiet nazzjonali.


Problema politika kbira madwar l-UE hija li qed jikbru u jinfirxu partiti u sentimenti populisti u Ewro-xettiċi li qed jipproponu soluzzjonijiet ta' malajr għat-tħassib tan-nies dwar kwistjonijiet bħall-migrazzjoni. Meta ma jkunx jista' jinstab kunsens mal-Unjoni kollha, l-UE għandha tippromwovi koalizzjonijiet ta' pajjiżi u organizzazzjonijiet ta' rieda tajba li jkunu lesti jgħinu lil xulxin. Kif inhuma l-affarijiet, jista' jkun li dan hu l-aktar mezz vijabbli: inkella, qed nissograw li nispiċċaw f'paraliżi istituzzjonali. Nemmen ukoll li għandu jsir aktar investiment fi programmi ta' integrazzjoni soċjali u ta' solidarjetà madwar l-Unjoni.



L-isfida attwali tal-migrazzjoni tfakkarna wkoll li l-Ewropa li għandha wirt b'saħħtu ta' libertà, drittijiet tal-bniedem u s-saltna tad-dritt hija l-istess Ewropa li għaddiet mit-totalitarjaniżmu u li f'bosta żminijiet ipprattikat il-kolonjaliżmu. Barra minn hekk, il-kelma 'migrazzjoni' nnifisha jeħtieġ li nqisuha mill-perspettiva tal-baħar ta' identitajiet, lealtajiet u twemmin f'Unjoni ta' diversità. 


Sfida oħra li l-UE qed tħabbat wiċċha magħha hi s-saltna tad-dritt. Għal darb'oħra hemm kunflitti ċari bejn dawk favur standards Ewropej u l-Ewroxettiċi u jidher li ma teżistix soluzzjoni sempliċi. Dan ifakkarna fir-rwol tal-Kummissjoni Ewropea li tara li l-istati membri jżommu ma' standards bażiċi u fl-għażliet li l-elettorat Ewropew ser ikollu jagħmel fl-elezzjonijiet nazzjonali u dawk Ewropej. L-Ewroxettiċi sikwit qed jippreżentaw argumenti b'aktar passjoni u kemm il-darba jirbħu l-ġlieda tal-komunikazzjoni.


B'rabta ma' dan, istituzzjonijiet, partiti politiċi u organizzazzjonijiet tas-soċjetà ċivili favur l-UE għandhom irawmu sens li aħna lkoll għandna sehem fl-Ewropa. Dan ifisser ukoll li r-rappreżentanti tan-nies fil-Parlament Ewropew għandhom ikunu eqreb tan-nies billi jisimgħu t-tħassib u r-realtajiet ta' kuljum tagħhom fil-kostitwenzi rispettivi tagħhom u jikkonċentraw inqas fuq ir-retorika, li n-nies ma għandhom l-ebda rabta magħha.


J
ekk irridu nħarsu u ntejbu l-kisbiet tal-Unjoni Ewropea, bħall-paċi, is-solidarjetà u s-sostenibbiltà, irridu naraw li l-individwi, il-gruppi u s-soċjetajiet Ewropej iħossuhom li huma parti mill-istituzzjonijiet tal-UE u li tassew qed jieħdu sehem fihom.

Dan l-artiklu deher fil-Mument, 23 ta' Settembru 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

Qed ikollna nimxu fit-triq minflok fuq il-bankina - Michael Briguglio


Fdan il-vlog f'The Malta Independent nispjega kif il-bankini tagħna qed jiġu okkupati minn imwejjed u siġġijiet u minn kostruzzjoni traskurata.

Tista tara l-filmat minn dan il-link:

http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2018-09-17/blogs-opinions/People-having-to-walk-on-roads-instead-of-pavements-6736196458

Cheques and Pensioners - Michael Briguglio


Times of Malta 12 September 2018

When people receive tax refunds, they are receiving what is theirs by right from payments they made to the government. They usually receive a notice about this in their tax statement and move on with their life. The government has taken this a step further through a public relations stunt: Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna held a press conference to announce the delivery of specific cheques, which were sent together with a propagandist letter to thousands of workers.
A few days ago, someone sarcastically told me that the tax money that is being refunded to people have already been paid up by the same people through the higher utility bills courtesy of an illegal billing method. Within the social media others joked that the refund could be used at pharmacists to buy anti-pollution products, and some said that government’s boasting about the refund was an insult to those struggling with rent and loan payments. In a tweet, Times of Malta opinionist André DeBattista referred to this as ‘bread and circus’ politics.
Many others have been saying that the government is somewhat forgetful of the fact that 95,000 pensioners in Malta are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet in view of rising costs amid an increasing inflation rate. As things stand, around 22,000 pensions are at risk of poverty: rises in fuel costs, utility bills, food stuffs and many other items are not making things better.
The highest government pension in Malta is around €13,200 and the only consolation to such pensioners is that they are tax exempt. But unlike tax-exempt workers they did not benefit from a government cheque. I invite readers to check out a recent public tweet exchange by Alfred Mangion and the Finance Minister for more information on the matter.
This takes me to a recommendable read by Carmel Mallia (September 7) regarding pensioners’ budget expectations. Mallia reminds his readers that for the past decade the Alliance of Pensioners Organisations has been addressing the importance of adequate pensions.
It is important to note that a recent report by the European Social Protection Committee and the European Commission confirmed that Malta’s two-thirds government pension was inadequate, something which even I elaborated upon in a recent article in this newspaper.
In this regard, Mallia reports how the relative median income rate for older people (65+) decreased between 2008 and 2016, that women are worse off and that there is age discrimination in various measures introduced in the two-thirds pension, “namely in the capping of the maximum pensionable income, the guaranteed national minimum pension and in the yearly reassessment of pension”.
The report in question shows that one cannot survive on a pension in Malta and affirms that the gender gap among pensioners is one of the highest in the EU. It adds that during the period under review (2008-16), the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate for older people has increased, especially for those aged 75 and over, even though the relative poverty gap for persons aged 65 or over showed a marked improvement.
The pensions report in question also recommends a proper indexation of pensions to mitigate the erosion of pensioners’ purchasing power. This should include a basket of goods and services needed by older people. The recommended formula is one which reflects 50 per cent wage inflation and 50 per cent retail price inflation.
It also recommends the possibility for persons to create their own pensions schemes instead of the State-run one.  To this, I would like to add that the current government has abandoned Malta’s previous efforts to include a second-pillar pension which could help foster responsibility and sustainability.
Given that thousands of pensioners are finding it difficult to make ends meet, it is about time that the Minister of Finance introduces substantive measures in the upcoming budget. Otherwise, they will have to keep making personal sacrifices or depend on other sources of income and assistance, if available, to make ends meet.
Malta requires national consensus on the pensions policy: let us commit ourselves to cross-generational solidarity within a caring society.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Is-soċjoloġija tal-ħosba - Michael Briguglio



Xi kultant is-soċjetà tqajjem agħa li jinfirex bħan-nar. Jista' jkun marbut ma' kull xorta ta' kwistjoni, mis-saħħa għas-sigurtà. L-attenzjoni tal-mezzi tax-xandir, dak li jingħad min-nies, speċjalment dawk influenti, u s-sensazzjonaliżmu jagħtu n-nar lil dak li jidher fl-aħbarijiet. Xi nies jemmnu, oħrajn jibqgħu xettiċi; xi aħbarijiet ikunu fattwali, oħrajn ikunu foloz.



Il-politiċi, dawk li jfasslu l-politika, il-ġurnalisti u s-soċjetà ċivili għandhom id-dmir li jkunu fattwali u li jiġġieldu x-xettiċiżmu msejjes fuq aħbarijiet foloz, anke jekk jista' jkun li l-fatti ma jgħinux lill-aġendi rispettivi tagħhom. Tassew li hemm modi differenti kif naqraw fatti bħall-istatistika, iżda dan ma jfissirx li għarfien espert u xjentifiku għandu jitqies daqslikieku kien biss il-fehma ta' xi ħadd kwalunkwe.



F'kuntest bħal dan, hu essenzjali li nagħrfu li s-soċjetà ta' żmienna hi waħda msejsa fuq opportunitajiet  u riskji li noħolquhom aħna stess. Noħolqu mezzi ta' transport li jagħtuna opportunitajiet bla tmiem, iżda li paradossalment ikollhom konsegwenzi mhux intenzjonati bħat-tniġġis u l-inċidenti.



Bl-istess mod, il-mediċina tatna rimedji li jsalvaw ħajjiet, iżda kultant jista' jkollha wkoll effetti sekondarji. Għalhekk, huwa essenzjali li ċ-ċittadini jkunu mgħammra biex jinnavigaw il-baħar ta' informazzjoni li jħabbtu wiċċhom miegħu kuljum, u li l-għarfien li jaslilna jkun kemm jista' jkun fattwali. Huwa hekk li aħna mbagħad inkunu nistgħu nieħdu deċiżjonijiet infurmati. Sikwit, li wieħed ma jagħmilx għażla hija fiha nnifisha għażla.



Dan iwassalna għall-paniku li bħalissa qiegħed jinfirex mal-Ewropa: il-ħosba. Qabel nissokta, nixtieq ngħid b'mod ċar li nemmen li dan il-paniku hu leġittimu u hu bbażat fuq evidenza xjentifika, li jiena nafda.



L-Organizzazzjoni Dinjija tas-Saħħa dan l-aħħar ħarġet data li turi li l-41,000 każ ta' ħosba fl-Ewropa bejn Jannar u Ġunju ta' din is-sena qabżu t-total annwali għal kull waħda mill-ħames snin ta' qabel. Fl-2016 kien hemm biss 5,000 każ. Nofs dawn il-każijiet kienu fl-Ukrajna, iżda kien hemm żidiet kbar u tifqigħat konsiderevoli f'pajjiżi oħrajn ukoll. Ġew irrappurtati wkoll 37 mewt mill-ħosba fl-Ewropa matul l-ewwel nofs ta' din is-sena.



Ir-raġuni ewlenija li ngħatat għal dawn iż-żidiet hi r-rati baxxi ta' tilqim tat-tfal f'xi pajjiżi. Għadd żgħir ta' pajjiżi Ewropej għandhom rati aktar baxxi minn xi pajjiżi Afrikani. Ir-rati baxxi jistgħu jkunu riżultat ta' żewġ raġunijiet ewlenin: f'pajjiżi bħall-Ukrajna u s-Serbja l-provvista tat-tilqima MMR (kontra l-ħosba, il-gattone u r-rubella) kienet irregolari f'dawn l-aħħar snin, u b'hekk affettwat ir-rata' ta' tilqim.



Fl-Ukrajna, ir-rata ta' tilqim naqset minn 95 fil-mija għaxar snin ilu għal 31 fil-mija fl-2016, parzjalment minħabba l-inkwiet ġeopolitiku iżda wkoll minħabba ċerti deċiżjonijiet meħudin mill-gvern.



Min-naħa l-oħra, f'pajjiżi fosthom Franza, il-Greċja u l-istess Ukrajna hemm ukoll numri sinifikanti ta' nies - minn 25 sa 40 fil-mija tal-popolazzjoni - li huma xettiċi dwar it-tilqim.



Hemm diversi raġunijiet għax-xettiċiżmu dwar tilqim differenti, li jvarjaw minn twemmin ta' aħbarijiet foloz sa fehmiet tal-gvern dwar jekk ċertu tilqim għandux ikun obbligatorju jew le.



Fl-Italja, pereżempju, il-gvern populista l-ġdid kompla jqajjem polemika dwar il-ħosba billi 10 vaċċini li kienu obbligatorji biex it-tfal imorru l-iskola ma baqgħux obbligatorji.



Huwa ċar li x-xettiċiżmu dwar it-tilqima tal-MMR huwa riżultat ta' aħbarijiet foloz wara studju qarrieq tal-1998 ta' Andrew Wakefield, li minn dak iż-żmien 'l hawn tilef il-liċenzja medika tiegħu. Ħarsa fil-qosor lejn l-evidenza u kitbiet xjentifiċi turi għaliex il-konklużjonijiet tiegħu kienu foloz. Iżda xorta waħda għadd imdaqqas ta' nies jemmnuhom.



Jekk isibu rwieħhom jikkonfondu f'kuntesti bħal dawn, in-nies għandhom jagħtu aktar attenzjoni lill-pariri tal-esperti milli lil dawk li l-għan tagħhom hu li jbeżżgħu, li bosta minnhom jeċċellaw fis-sensazzjonaliżmu fil-mezzi soċjali.



Dan iwassalna Malta. Pajjiżna għandu sistema tajba ħafna ta' tilqim, għalkemm ċertu tilqim ikollu jinxtara mingħand is-settur privat. Il-gvern issa qed jieħu passi biex jevita żieda fl-infezzjonijiet tal-ħosba. Meta nqisu l-fatt li Malta gżira u r-rabtiet ovvji tagħha ma' soċjetajiet oħrajn, huwa normali li l-awtoritajiet tas-saħħa jkunu mħassbin.



Ħamsa min-numra żgħir ħafna ta' sitt każijiet ta' ħosba din is-sena f'Malta kienu importati, u dan jagħti raġun lill-għaqal ta' gvernijiet suċċessivi li żguraw li t-tilqima tal-MMR tkun obbligatorja. Iżda l-ħosba tittieħed faċilment u l-qbil politiku dwar il-qagħda attwali huwa ġġustifikat.

Dan l-artiklu deher fil-Mument, 16 ta' Settembru 2018




Saturday, September 15, 2018

How would democracy be affected if a political party has a two-thirds parliamentary majority? Michael Briguglio

Question Time: Times of Malta 15th September 2018

The most obvious powers that a political party will have if it obtains two-thirds parliamentary majority relate to constitutional change. The governing party will be able to change this national pact in ways which it deems fit, and the parliamentary opposition will have basically no way to stop the process.
The Constitution of Malta extensively covers various aspects of social life in the country, from language to the right to work, from the promotion of culture to the safeguarding of landscape, from compulsory and free primary education to the rights of women workers and minors, from social assistance to private enterprise, from citizenship to the powers of parliament, from fundamental rights to the powers of the executive and the judiciary, and from public finance to the civil service. Just imagine what powers a party would have if it could change the Constitution at its whim, courtesy of a two-thirds parliamentary majority.
Two-thirds parliamentary majority can also grant the governing party the authority to appoint the Auditor General and the Ombudsman of its choice, and yet again the Opposition’s voice would be legally powerless. Given that these two important roles exist precisely to scrutinise government’s operations, a two-thirds parliamentary majority can grant government the authority to appoint partisan loyalists instead of independent and authoritative figures.
One can argue that if a political party gains a two-thirds parliamentary majority, it is only fair that it could have the power to change the Constitution and appoint such key persons without consulting the Opposition, let alone civil society. The argument goes that numbers speak for themselves and that voters would have entrusted the party in question to carry out such changes.
In a way, this argument is logically correct, but before rushing to enthusiastically embrace it, I recommend that one should reflect on its implications. A two-thirds parliamentary majority can result in Malta moving away from the values, norms and laws of Western liberal democracies towards illiberal democracies where winners take all, where parliamentary opposition is effectively powerless and where civil society is suffocated.
Malta’s independence, status of republic and EU membership were historic dates which helped the country move towards western liberal democracy: This is not just about electing a government. It is about basic individual rights, checks and balances, free press, a vibrant civil society, minority rights, rule of law and the separation of power away from a monolithic top-down structure.
In the past years, Malta was also within the process of discussing constitutional reform, though this seems to have stalled. In this regard, Giovanni Bonello, a constitutional expert and a former member of the European Court of Human Rights argues that if anything Malta needs to give more authority to its Constitution and less to Parliament, to safeguard the rights mentioned above and spare Maltese society from despotic leaders. He argues that Malta’s constitutional court seems to accept that Parliament, rather than the Constitution, holds supreme power in Malta. Hence, this calls for a reform which reverses the situation.
If Malta wants to retain its status as a western liberal democracy, such authoritative warnings should be given due respect, and we should ensure that no party would ever have the opportunity to change the Constitution at its whim. History teaches us that the more power is centralised, the bigger the incentives for ruling elites to retain it. This also includes benevolent authoritarians who ultimately resort to tyranny and repression. And when we do not learn the lessons of history we may be susceptible to repeat them.
Ultimately, it is the voter who has the power to steer Malta’s direction. At the same time, it is the duty of political parties, civil society, the media and the educational system to help voters reflect on rights and responsibilities within the political system.