The Malta Independent 13 November 2019, Wednesday

Migrants in despair

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 4 November 2019, 08:49 Last update: about 9 days ago

The despair and mental health difficulties that “irregular” migrants experience constitute a problem which is not receiving enough attention. Or better, the problem is not considered as one that should concern us.

This is coherent with the view that migrants are simply “the others” who came in our midst, uninvited. Therefore the difficulties they face in life are of no interest to us. They’re not our problem and they should not be allowed to become like so.

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Who advised them to leave their country? Who told them to come here? Why should we care if they are in despair?

Wherever you go, you can hear such comments being made, sometimes in a much harder tone of voice. And they get said by members of all social categories, from people in low income brackets to the most affluent and the most sophisticated.

The hopelessness of others should not be a matter of concern to us – that is the general verdict. Everybody needs to carry the cross that’s made for him/her. Our family comes first, followed by the families of other Maltese and Gozitans... so long as the latter’s problems do not affect us and our own families too badly. If so, it also stands to reason we would not care for them as well.

And this is how things should be. 

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Longer at school

The Prime Minister did well to put on the table the proposal to extend by one year the educational process that children and young people must follow. Certainly he should expect that all the possible objections to it will arise from all ends of the island.

Actually, were such an extension be introduced, it would need to be well-planned years before it comes into force. Otherwise it would end up as a muddle. All indications are that such a reform is truly in order, if we really wish by a collective effort, to improve our educational standards, not only in places where they are already fine, but also where we are missing out.

I guess the most important decision that will need to be taken concerns which portion of the educational process had best be stretched out. When in the past, my colleagues and I proposed this should be done at the stage where it could best be ensured that primary education was being a success for all children, out came a very clever fellow to claim we wanted Maltese and Gozitan children to become “repeaters”.     

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Tax structures

The latest European statistics regarding taxes and social contributions show that as an average for EU countries, these account for some 40.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

At 32.7 per cent, Malta features among the member states having the lowest tax burdens, always compared to GDP. The following countries carry lower burdens: Ireland (23 per cent), Bulgaria (29.9 per cent), Lithuania (30.5 per cent) and Latvia (31.4 per cent).

Among the countries with the highest percentages, one finds the Scandinavians, Belgium and Lusembourg, all with taxes and the rest, that reach well over 40 per cent of GDP.  This is not to argue that Maltese taxes have to be increased! But it helps to explain perhaps why in some of these countries, the social welfare and other benefits enjoyed by their citizens are superior to ours.

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