The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Political pledges - PN’s proposals that hit the right note

Saturday, 18 September 2021, 09:05 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Nationalist Party may still be trailing in opinion polls, but things could soon start to change as the Opposition rolls out an impressive set of electoral proposals.

Over the past couple of weeks, the PN has unveiled ambitious proposals that affect people directly. These include proposals on the protection of the environment, cost of living, taxes, pensions and healthcare.

Perhaps one of the most interesting proposals is the pledge that the use of ODZ land for development would be subject to a two-thirds Parliamentary majority. While the proposal needs to be more polished and may look drastic to some, it is perhaps what this country need at this juncture.

The Planning Minister, Aaron Farrugia, has criticised the proposal, saying that Parliament would be taking over the role of the Planning Authority, which he said is “independent”. But how truly independent is the PA? If it were truly independent, why are we seeing the country’s last remaining green areas being sacrificed at the altar of construction? The Labour government had assured us that ODZ land will only be used for projects of national importance, such as schools and hospitals. If this is the case, what’s the problem with going through Parliament to approve such permits?
Unlike the government, which is saying very little about public spaces that are under threat, PN Leader Bernard Grech has also pledged that a PN government would buy Hondoq ir-Rummien and that it would return the land given to Sadeen at Zonqor to the people. 

Another PN proposal announced this week will affect many families – the pledge that a PN government would pay for all cancer treatments abroad. Grech said cancer patients would no longer need to beg the Community Chest Fund for help. There would be no distinction between one form of cancer and another, Grech said. This pledge would not only make it easier for patients to receive the treatment they need, but also save their relatives the dreadful task of begging and waiting to receive. A PN government would also ensure that terminal patients receive palliative care at home, with their loved ones, rather than in a hospital setting.

In a bid to tackle the rising cost of living and reduce bureaucracy for businesses, the PN has also pledged to raise the VAT exemption threshold from €30,000 to €60,000. During the same event, Grech said the PN would also introduce a sustainable pensions system, something which is a growing concern but on which not much is currently being done.

The PN has also pledged to introduce a €40m fund to offset the rising costs of exportation, pointing out that Maltese companies pay up to four times as much in export costs as their European counterparts.

The Nationalist Party may have been seen as having become irrelevant over past years, but it seems to be making a strong comeback.

These proposals hit the right note. They show that the party is truly listening to the people and its proposals are based on what the people need.

This is the kind of attitude that we need to see from the political parties – proposals that promise a change where it matters the most.

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