The Malta Independent 22 August 2019, Thursday

Plan

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 18 July 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 30 days ago

I recently got a letter from a friend who lives abroad: True, he said, this country is doing very well and it does not appear that current growth rates will subside soon. I came to visit some time ago and I was surprised by how much ongong activity there is and really impressed by how developments of all sorts appear to be thriving.

But, he went on – and with this kind of comment, there is always some “but” – it all seems as if what is going on happens without any planning, it’s as if all is just rolling along on its own. It has been like so for quite a while and will probably remain as it is for much longer.

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We need a plan, he argued strongly, so that what is currently happening does not boil over. The island is too small and would find it difficult to cope if the ongoing economic growth gets out of hand.

Perhaps – as some one else told me – those among us who live abroad do worry much more about what is happening here than we, who actually live here, do.

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A serious process

Proposals being made by the Council of Europe should be given full consideration in a free discussion between Maltese citizens, in order to also implement them here in line with our circumstances. This is what I believe, so long as this is done strictly in good faith and with a total transparency.

Which is why I completely fail to understand those who pretend that we should regard the Council of Europe’s pronunciamentos, no matter how they come, as if they were the Gospel. For instance, I cannot understand how they should be considered as instruments that automatically lay out a new constitutional space in the country that must be recognised as valid and in force by local courts.

In dealing with “suggestions” made to us from outside, we should make sure that a serious process is undertaken of evaluation and debate leading to decisions. One way or the other, nothing about it should be automatic, 

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Tax on flights

The initiative got going in Holland and will possibly spread elsewhere. Fuel used by planes (and ships) carries no tax while cars and trains are charged tax on the fuel they need. This is serving to promote “unbridled” air tourism and is impacting negatively on the environment. So air travel should be subjected to greater levels of taxation.

As carried out in Holland, a tax has been imposed on airline fuel and a new departure tax set at airports.  Other countries, like France, seem tempted by the idea.

The intention is to spread it to the rest of Europe as a measure to protect the environment. Consumer associations, ship owners and soon I imagine, airlines are raising their voices in protest. Their representatives have already visited me as well as other MEPs to discuss the matter.

I have not yet heard from Maltese sources. The measures to tax air transport which are being touted would have a negative impact on islands and on distant tourist locations.

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