The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

Renewing Malta together

Owen Bonnici Friday, 24 September 2021, 07:33 Last update: about 30 days ago

For all those who follow local politics, the days surrounding the date in which we celebrate our Independence came with a bang this year.  The two main political parties organised their own events and people were mobilized to attend them, albeit within the confines of the present COVID-19 related rules and regulations.

Labour had one of the most impressive conferences which I have attended to in the last years.  It was impressive not only from the perspective of logistics, branding and set-up, but also in terms of what was actually discussed and, most importantly, achieved.

In comparison the events organised by the Nationalist Party came across very poorly organised and the main takeaway for the man in the street that the Opposition is still very much split in the middle as much as ever.  The picture of the Delia faithful all dressed in black shirts with Team Delia emblazed on them standing together in a corner of the Fosos spoke volumes. But enough about the Nationalist Party.

I attended various seminars which were organised within the Labour Conferences at Ta’ Qali and the speakers were very prepared and knowledgeable about the subjects at hand.  My colleagues in Cabinet and I went there to listen, not to speak – and a lot of people appreciated this fact.

The seminar on equality, organised by Nisa Laburisti, was particularly interesting as it discussed not only the need to keep working towards gender equality (which is of course very important) but also other issues such as sex education, surrogacy, sperm donation and LGBTIQ rights.

The seminar on health was also another one worth of mention and I was particularly appreciative of the fact that many of the speakers emphasized the sterling work which is being done in the field of research and innovation.

Also the business breakfast on the economy had a lot of valid contributions and the experts who expressed their views, and in some instances justified criticism, did that with a free mind and a positive critical approach.  A lot of good came out from this conversation.

The main event was, of course, the speech of Prime Minister Dr Robert Abela during the mass rally. It struck me as a very positive, forward looking speech which underlined the position of the Labour Party here in Malta as the main and only united, progressive party with a strong and clear agenda of renewing further our country.

Dr Abela could have limited himself on reminding the listeners on how his Government handled the pandemic where it intervened to save lives and livelihoods of the Maltese people. Yet, he chose not to dwell on the past, but to focus on the future.

He spoke about his ambition to keep making Malta a better place, to keep changing things so that our country keeps moving forward, keeps improving, keeps becoming the country of opportunities.

It’s all about renewing our country.  And we have to do this together.  Together means that we have to keep building a wide coalition of families and people who want to join us in this exciting voyage of renewal, independently of their past preferences at the polls.

Since 2013, Labour was the prime mover of change and marked improvement across the board in our country. Labour has also done mistakes and recent events that we all read about certainly disappointed those who expected better.  However, this Government is implementing change even in the sector of governance and is showing that it took the shortcomings very seriously and acted about them.  The words of praise by the President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen on the reformist agenda even in the field of governance is strong proof of this.

I, for one, am keen to give my all to keep renewing Malta together.

 

Cost of living blues

 

The Nationalist Party has been trying to put on the national agenda the issue of inflation.  Journalists from its media house have been chasing various Ministers asking them specifically about this point.

Of course, it is the Opposition’s job to criticise and pose questions.  However, the problem is that on inflation, the Nationalist Party is not credible.

There is a radical difference between the rate of increase of the cost of living today and that obtaining at the time when the Nationalist Party was heading the Government.  And what’s more, the prime mover of the increase in the cost of living was the Nationalist Government itself.

When the Nationalist Party was in power, utility bills used to increase time after time until they reached record levels.  Similarly, the price of fuels was consistently on the rise.  As were the taxes, and not even those with the lesser income were spared.

A Labour Government did not only decrease utility bills, but during a pandemic decreased the price of fuels.  Also, Labour budgets – year in year out – saw no increase in taxes and the forthcoming budget will not be an exception either.

Above all, a Labour Government increased pensions, strengthened Children’s Allowance, increased the minimum wage after generations of being frozen, introduced new benefits such as tapering and in-work benefits.  These are all measures which are aimed at improving the quality of life of people.

Factually, Malta has the lowest rate of inflation within all the countries of the European Union.  This does not mean that we should not keep working to assist those who are most in need, but facts are facts.  Moreover, recent statistics show that inflation, went down to 0.3%. Under a Nationalist Government it had increased up to 4.7%.

Let’s keep working hard to better the lives of Maltese and Gozitan families!

 

 

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