The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Too little, too late

Alfred Sant Monday, 17 June 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Personally, I doubt whether the freeze that has been decreed on the demolition of existing buildings will solve the crisis in the construction sector. It is an industry which continues to plough forward at full blast, where all are in it for themselves, often in abusive mode. The authorities have already made it clear they do not have enough resources, in quantity and quality, to cope with developments.

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Frankly, it is quite clear that the professionals involved, as well as the building contractors and developers, have been doing their best to play the “market” for all it is worth. They continue to do so. In a certain way and as things stand, it is difficult to blame them (!).

I will remember two moments from the last European Parliament election campaign. One happened at a house in Viani Street, Sliema. The residents showed me walls and stairs in their house where fissures were spreading. Beneath their house, a huge pit had been, was still being, dug... to make way for flats and garages.

The other moment happened at a Ta’ Xbiex housing estate: one of the government built houses that had been sold was now going to be demolished. In its place, a three to four storey block of flats was going to be built. Protests made by those who live alongside the site were ignored.

There are too many vested interests pressing for the demolition of existing buildings to be replaced in quick time by higher constructions.

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Transparency

Two weeks ago, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) based in Paris, published a study that showed how money laundering on an international scale had been affected by measures that were taken to control it.

According to the study, funds that go hide in some tax haven had reached an immensely high level as at 2008. Measures taken since then had pushed to boost transparency and roll it out. The jurisdictions to which monies travel had to declare what came their way and what had departed. An ever widening net of treaties was set up by which all parties obligated themselves to make known what was going on by way of financial transfers.

Again according to the study, this effort did succeed to reduce the problem, at least in so far as monies are concerned that get parked in bank accounts. Huge amounts are still being laundered, but much less than previously.

Is this outcome sufficiently promising to convince people that transparency remains the best tool by which to eradicate money laundering? That remains to be seen.

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German socialists

 

The SPD, Germany’s social democratic party, is in big trouble. It has done very badly in the European Parliament elections. Its leader resigned as a result. Instead of diminishing, internal disagreement about what needs to be done has increased.

There is no consolation at all in the fact that the German centre-right is also facing great difficulties.

The problem is a European one.

For long decades, the SPD was the party that safeguarded the interests of German workers and employees. They do not seem to consider now that it is still following this path. No matter how numerically smaller they have become, their voice is still strong.

It they continue to shy away from the SPD, where could they go? They will not stick with the Greens. Could they end up with the extreme right, like in the 1930’s?

Which is why it’s a European problem.

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