The Malta Independent 18 November 2017, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Enforcement - Must do better

Wednesday, 13 September 2017, 11:58 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Labour administration is currently celebrating the first 100 days of its second current term.

Speaking on Sunday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat went through his list of achievements of these 100 days. He then announced a strengthening of enforcement all around. This last bit, in our opinion, tempers all boasting of achievements in the first 100 days.

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Lack of proper enforcement is the bane of living in Malta. It is not a new problem and has been with us for many, many years, under both administrations.

Laws are drawn up but what’s their use if they are not enforced? Procedures are established but then not kept. It’s the same all over the country and in all aspects of life.

What’s the use of having a Planning Authority if then reports on infringements are not acted upon and PA officials seem to come up with any kind of excuse to justify their inaction?

By far, the greatest lack of enforcement must be laid at the door of the police. Either there are not enough of them, or they have too much to do, or they just don’t want to get out from their offices, the fact is that when ordinary, law-abiding, tax-paying, citizens seek the help of the members of the force, they many times face inaction under all sorts of creatively invented excuses.

So too government officers when contacted by members of the public, especially when the members of the public want something from these offices – we are short-staffed, they took away our staff, we have too much on our plate… And this when government after government spent millions to introduce computers and to simplify the work of these persons.

There is pretty little enforcement on the roads, and this is why the roads are suddenly becoming more dangerous. People know that traffic wardens clock off at 5pm and that’s when the mayhem begins. The same goes too for traffic policemen – they are never around on weekends.

There is lack of enforcement on the building of roads and on their maintenance. Time and again those digging up roads get away with murder and leave the roads in awful disarray.

But then if you happen to owe the government money, that is when enforcement comes down on you with all the weight of the government machine.

It was courageous of the prime minister to point at lack of enforcement as one of Malta’s problems, seeing he has been in power for around five years and the situation has not improved under his remit.

But now what the country expects from him is to walk the talk and to propose and deliver better enforcement all round. This is not going to be easy, even because many times officials who share the same political leanings as the government tend to relax, believing they will not be punished. (And those who do not share the government’s leaning will probably think they will not bust a gut to do what they are meant to do).

The country now expects the prime minister and his administration to follow up on this talk with a clear, measurable, checkable, programme how enforcement is going to be improved.

Until now, the scorecard with regards to the government in its first 100 days, reads: Must do better.

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