The Malta Independent 3 August 2021, Tuesday

Government’s consultation processes a sham - ADPD

Saturday, 19 June 2021, 14:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Government’s public consultation exercises are often flawed, asking questions which it should answer itself. This was stated by Carmel Cacopardo, ADPD – The Green Party’s Chairperson during a press conference today.

ADPD – The Greens’ Secretary General Ralph Cassar spoke about ongoing consultation processes and emphasised that in following six weeks, more than 15 documents are up for public consultation. A number of these documents are about education, another on government’s economic vision and one on government’s zero carbon strategy. Instead of an extensive and in-depth consultation the government is publishing glossy documents, many of them without the accompanying studies on which the recommendations in the documents are based. It is insulting to expect stakeholders to study the documents and give informed views on the subject matter in a few weeks. The public consultation exercise is more often than not a sham.

An example of government’s attitude is the Transport Masterplan. Government is not even capable of implementing its own policy documents. Policies in the Transport Masterplan have been repeatedly ignored: actually government has embarked on  the opposite of what the Transport Masterplan stipulates. The zero-carbon document issued this month for consultation is replete with long-overdue recommendations. Even when it comes to government’s economic vision - instead of offering a set of policies and an analysis of scenarios that can be discussed in detail, we have ended up with a vague document with a wishlist. The intention is clear: government does not want to commit itself to any policy and wants to continue with business as usual, to avoid upsetting anyone!

Carmel Cacopardo focused on the Green Paper Towards Cleaner Vehicles on our Roads. He said that although this consultation process was announced almost 4 years ago, in September 2017, the information in the consultation document is scarce. This makes this consultation a sham.

Carmel Cacopardo emphasised the following points:

- While the Green Paper acknowledges that air emissions as a result of cars and other vehicles increased by 86% over the period 1990-2018, it ignores the fact that it is government itself through the savage take up of land for more roads, that has caused an exponential increase in traffic and pollution.

- The transition to the eletrification of the vehicle fleet is a step forward. Emissions will however not decrease they will just be shifted from our roads to the source of generation of electricity in Malta and, through the interconnector to Sicily. The document is completely silent about both the source and the price we will pay for this electricity. Will it be a clean and renewable zero-emission source or not?

- While the use of petrol and diesel will decrease substantially as a result of the electrification of cars, on the other hand the government is reluctant to announce a moratorium on the development of new fuel stations, despite the fact that we do not need more of them. The Green Paper is silent on this issue.

- Government revenue through fuel duties from the sale of petrol and diesel is substantial. Government’s own financial estimates for 2021 indicate a revenue of €154 million. This revenue stream will fizzle out. What is the government proposing as alternative sources of revenue? On this important matter the consultation document is once again silent.

- Government does not have the courage to indicate which areas should be designated as low emission zones - that is, with limited vehicle traffic - to improve air quality. Minister Aaron Farrugia should tell us whether he really wants to protect the health of residents of Fgura, Ħamrun, Floriana, Msida and Gżira, among other polluted places.

In his closing remarks Carmel Cacopardo said that the Green Paper refers to two studies about vehicle electrification, but these documents have not been made public. There cannot be proper consultation if important documents are kept under wraps. The Green Paper fails in the most essential thing: it does not give the full information needed for detailed feedback. The consultation process is a sham.

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