The Malta Independent 14 December 2017, Thursday

PL manifesto: Gas pipeline to Sicily; transparency register; 16-year-olds to be given right to vote

Kevin Schembri Orland Friday, 19 May 2017, 21:39 Last update: about 8 months ago

The Labour Party has just unveiled its 2017 manifesto, divided up into 18 categories across 171 pages.

Some of the main proposals include a pledge for government to see the construction of the gas pipeline to Sicily "in the "shortest time possible", the introduction of a transparency register where public persons will declare their commercial interests, and giving 16-year-olds the right to vote.

Gas pipeline

A PL government will see the construction of the gas pipeline between Malta and Sicily in the "shortest time possible."

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The PL have said in their electoral manifesto, that a crucial step for the energy sector in Malta is a gas pipeline between Malta and Sicily, which will directly link the country to the European gas market.

This pipeline, the Labour manifesto read, will cross 158 km and would be able to carry 2bn cubic metres of natural gas to Malta. When the pipeline is complete, it will substitute the controversial LNG gas tanker currently stationed In Marsaxlokk, phasing it out.

As for renewable energy, the PL have pledged to further create incentives for renewable energy. "We are committed to continue offering grants so that families and businesses will have the opportunity to invest in clean and renewable energy."

As for petrol and diesel, a PL government will continue to sustain a stable price for petrol and diesel, as well as LPG.

The PL would also invest €120 million, through EU funds, in projects to improve water quality and distribution.

The PL have also pledged to make new push in oil exploration, and spoke of creating a new government agency to focus on the aspect of oil exploration.

Gozo

Government has pledged to start the Gozo tunnel project, stating that over the past four years, a lot of work has occurred, "and today we are in the most advanced position we have ever been on this project. A number of technical and scientific tests have occurred both from foreign companies and the University of Malta, and an Italian University."

We are currently undergoing geological tests called 'investigative coring' ." The manifesto reads that a Social Impact Assessment occurred and that the next stage is for an Expression of Interest to be issued.

The PL are also pledging a regional plan for a period of ten years for Gozo. The plan would include clear recommendations as to how Gozo can contribute economically, how to create more jobs in Gozo, a detailed study of the skills gap in Gozo, etc.

In addition, a Regional Authority will be set up for Gozo to draw up and implement this Regional Plan. The PL are also proposing the creation of a Parliamentary Committee for Gozitan Affairs.

The PL also unveiled a flurry of other project proposals, including the creation of a Gozo museum, the inclusion of a Malta Enterprise unit in the Gozitan Regional Committee.

As for healthcare in Gozo, the PL pledged to carry out an investment project in the Gozo Hospital. "The new state of the art hospital will accommodate 350 beds, making it the largest hospital Gozo has ever had." "Through investment into the Gozo Hospital, new services will be introduced.

Administrative autonomy for the courts

The PL has pledged that, in the same way that Parliament was given administrative autonomy, the courts will as well.

They will also continue working to phase out the situation where police must prosecute cases themselves, and so all criminal cases will be prosecuted by lawyers.

Investment in the Legal Aid Office will increase under a Labour government.

As for the police force, a new PL government would see an unprecedented investment in the police force, through the constant recruitment of new police officers.

In addition, the PL will introduce the idea of citizen officers. The PL would also look at the wage scales of police officers, to ensure that they incentivise officials to remain in the police corps, rather than leave once reaching 25 years of service.

The PL would establish an Agency for Crime Victims, which will provide services related to this, and work hand in hand with NGOs such as Victim Support Malta.

The Labour Party has pledged to continue investing in the assets of the Armed Forces. In addition, through EU funds, they will construct a new Operations Centre which will include a rescue coordination centre.

Following consultation, the PL will also consider raising the mandatory retirement age from 55 to 58.  They will also consider the possibility of introducing a voluntary programme for 16 - 18 year-olds to be given the opportunity to gain experience in the armed forces.

Government will also invest in a National Control Centre.

Transparency register

A new PL government will see a discussion regarding the possibility for MPs to be given a choice to serve as full-time MPs.

A PL government would also see a discussion on gender quotas in Parliament.

He also pledged to give the right to vote in general elections to 16-year-olds

Government has also pledged to make public any contract it signs. In addition, a PL government would discuss the possibility of introducing a Transparency Register, where MPs, Ministers and important persons in public posts declare their commercial interests, or potential commercial interests.  This register would be public. The register would also regulate meetings that could result in a conflict of interest and would ensure that these meetings would be declared publicly.

The Manifesto also reads that a consultation process on the introduction of an accountability charter for all public service workers , to create a culture of accountability, would start.

Paceville Masterplan

The Paceville Masterplan will conclude in the coming legislature should the PL be elected. The manifesto reads that Paceville and the St George’s Bay area will receive “the serious upgrade it deserves.” A fundamental point however, is that no private property will be taken if not by agreement.

Another environmental proposal will see a tree planted for every baby born.

A PL government will also establish an environment tribunal to deal with environmental crimes.

Closure of Marsa Open Centre

The PL would close down the Marsa Open Centre. The number of arrivals will allow government to use different existing spaces. The move, the PL said, would allow for facilities to be centralised in one place and will result in the space in Marsa being rehabilitated as part of a regeneration process.

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