The Malta Independent 17 August 2019, Saturday

Social projects

Alfred Sant Monday, 15 July 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

In Europe and outside it, funds of many billions get created to invest in commercial projects launched by individuals and companies. In this way, encouragement and help are provided to those who are attempting to run projects that could be economically and financially worthwhile, but which need support to succeed.

Such strategies to promote investments have had many successes (though they have also registered failures).

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The claim has been made: Why cannot the same method be extended to “social” projects, in sectors like the environment, health and the care of disabilities, among others?

The problem here is that social projects, by definition, can hardly be considered as tools for profit making. So how can one lend them money or invest in them as if they were operating commercially?

However, more and more models are being found how to do so, and this with the participation of banks and of NGOs who have long been active in the social field. It makes great sense to continue with this approach and indeed give it greater importance. In doing so, there should be allowed no weakening of the state’s guarantee that measures of social solidarity towards all citizens must remain in place, free from any threat of being sidelined because they cannot be rendered “viable”.

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Euro reforms

On paper, there is wide agreement that the eurozone needs to implement reforms that would enable future challenges to be met. Now, such reforms have remained pending for years, as for instance: the setting up of a banking union and of a capital markets union (Europe-wide); the introduction of a European scheme to guarantee deposits in banks; the consolidation of a European fund meant to underpin banks that come close to a collapse... Moreover, other proposals to establish a budget for the eurozone, as well as possibly its own finance ministry for the latter, have not progressed an inch...

In all these areas, time after time we got reports presented, one after the other, by all chairpersons of the European institutions... They remained a dead letter.

A general feeling is that as happened under the Jean Claude Juncker Commission, for the next five years there will be more running on the spot.

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On climate, are we exaggerating?

In political discussions about the need to counter the causes of climate change, I feel that we sometimes get caught between two contradictory tensions.

Firstly, comes the conviction that yes: unless we take full care and adopt the drastic measures that have become necessary, we will end up with an environmental disaster that on a global level, will weigh heavily on the future of mankind. Indicators that register how enormous ice chunks from the North and South poles are melting, or the incredibly violent out of season storms that sometimes prevail, seem to highlight this fear.

But then there is this second tension: could we be exagerrating? Over the centuries of known history, there was a time – there were times, when drastic climate change also happened. Then, the environment recovered “on its own”. Still today, given prevailing lifestyles, human society has cultivated and developed needs that are without precedent in the extent of the harsh burdens which they place on our environment. 
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