The Malta Independent 16 December 2019, Monday

The right emphasis

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 24 October 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

I like the emphasis the government is attaching to the social effects of the 2020 budget.

The social strategy deployed these last years has been getting useful results. Perhaps they’re not as widespread as the government itself expected, but still it can feel pride at what has been achieved.

In social affairs a problem will always be that no matter how much progress is registered, the expectation remains... not least among those who are benefitting the most... for a greater rollout of benefits.

After all, it is legitimate to have such an expectation. On the other hand, if improvements in social welfare are introduced “too fast”, given the capitalist economy that we play to, the country could quickly find itself in an uncompetitive stance, putting at risk the progress achieved. This happened when towards the end of the 1970’s, years of steady improvements in conditions of work and welfare brought in their wake economic stagnation at the same time that recession had spread in Malta’s export markets while inflation lit up.

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European funds to 2027

As all eyes stayed focussed on the Brexit soap opera, efforts continued among the EU’s member states to find agreement on how much they would be spending between next year and 2027, and how they would spend it. For while there are proposals about which all (or almost all) agree to launch new initatives that will bump up expenditures (like for the environment, immigration, defence...), no one is prepared to accept the proposal made by the European Commission (as well as the European Parliament), to increase the share of their GDP that all members contribute.

Moreover, the UK’s departure will lead to a substantial drop in the Union’s revenues. But when the discussion comes down to the need for cuts in expenditures, a number of member states strongly resist this. They insist that in no way should there be cuts in spending on agriculture or in cohesion funds earmarked to promote economic and social development.

Countries like Germany and Holland are making it clear that they are not prepared to carry the major part of the financial burdens that will be emerging.

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To the airport

Based on my personal experience, I can confirm that the new roads circling Qormi and Marsa are already having a positive impact.

To reach the airport from B’Kara... at different tims of the day and on different days of the week... the time required has I think been slashed by half.

And what’s commendable about the completed and ongoing works is that they have been meticulously planned and truly create as little convenience as possible. A pity the same cannot be said for works that are all the time being carried out in the island’s secondary and residential roads and streets. There are days that what one gains when driving to the airport is lost while navigating roads that as in B’Kara valley, remain for far too long either half dug or half closed.

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