The Malta Independent 24 September 2020, Thursday

National Youth Council submits pre-budget proposals

Monday, 14 September 2020, 15:21 Last update: about 9 days ago

The Maltese National Youth Council (KNŻ) has prepared a number of pre-budget proposals for the upcoming 2021 Budget.

“Such proposals are the product of weeks of in-house deliberation, ongoing discussions with member organisations and data collection from youths throughout Malta and Gozo.”

The KNŻ said that all government policies should be complimented with a youth dimension.

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Health

The KNŻ made a number of proposals in relation to mental health care and sexual health.

It highlighted the need to ensure the allocation of adequate resources for the provision of out-patient mental health care in Mater Dei Hospital year-round, and the need to subsidise mental health first aid courses in schools and create guidelines for standardised mental health education for primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education to follow, aimed at educating youth against the stigmatisation of mental health issues from an early age.

Among other things, the KNZ proposed that the government improve the present aid available by improving the infrastructure at Mount Carmel Mental Hospital, increasing investment in Community Mental Health Clinics and creating a new one of the latter clinics in the northern region of Malta.

In terms of sexual health, the KNZ spoke of the need to revisit the National Sexual Health Strategy with adequate programmes for 2020, with age appropriate outreach, educational and informative elements sustaining the written policy. It highlighted the need to facilitate affordable HIV treatments and HIV related medication as well as easy access to such treatments in Gozo, among other things.

The KNZ said that more resources need to be allocated to improve the functioning of the GU Clinic at Mater Dei Hospital.

Education, employment & housing

In terms of education, the KNŻ proposes that fees for all local, EU and EEA applicants pursuing post-graduate education at tertiary educational institutions in Malta be waived.

The KNŻ also called on the government to facilitate the introduction of robust age-appropriate civic education schemes in all primary and secondary schools throughout Malta and Gozo, together with a ‘train the trainer’ programme and annual CPD sessions for educators on the topic. It also wants to extend the stipend and maintenance grant scheme to all students who undertook employment of longer than 20 hours weekly during the study period and have had their employment hampered by restrictions arising out of Covid-19 related directives.

The KNŻ wants to government to consider the social security currently being paid by youths under the age of 18 as contributing towards the amount of work necessary for them to be eligible to receive a pension.

It also wants the government to recognise that it might be financially difficult for youth to continue their studies and maintain themselves at the same time, and in light of this, have the National Insurance to be paid by youth students in tertiary education institutions who are engaged in part-time employment during the study period covered by the government.

The KNŻ also wants the government to eliminate unpaid traineeships and internships through a facilitation program wherein employers hiring interns and trainees may apply for subsidisation to partly offset added expenses.

It also calls on the government to expand and improve services tied to housing assistance, in particular by better integrating employment-related incentives and services.

Environment & infrastructure

The KNŻ wants the government to compliment the current restructuring of Maltese and Gozitan roads with appropriate sustainability practices, and the implementation of better and safer bicycle lanes and solar panelled street lamps to provide an environmentally friendly source of transport and lighting respectively.

It also called for the provisions of economic incentives for rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling to reduce water consumption by households and industries.

The KNŻ wants the introduction of a carbon tax to balance the increase of emissions recorded in the Maltese Islands.

Gozo

In terms of Gozo, the KNŻ wants the introduction of a multi-modal ticketing system for public transport services (Tallinja & Gozo Channel Ferries).

It called for, among other things, the construction of youth centres and sport centres in Gozo with all necessary services and equipment to function properly, and also for the government to hasten the completion of a National Public Pool in Gozo and ensure that access is unrestricted.

Voluntary sector

In terms of donations, the KNŻ wants the government to qualify donations given to registered Voluntary Organisations as tax deductible, “as is the current state for donations given to the Malta Community Chest Fund, with appropriate Anti-Money Laundering safeguards in place to prevent abuse.”

Among other things, the KNŻ proposed the allocation of funding for registered Voluntary Organisations undertaking work within the field of journalism to strengthen such a pillar of democracy.

Recognition of civil liberties & inclusion

The KNŻ wants the government to allocate further resources to the Hate Crime and Speech Unit in its tackling of online abuse. It also wants to introduce a “cohabitation” tax bracket for cohabitants who share in direct ownership of the residential home, granting certain benefits currently restricted to the “married” tax bracket.

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