The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

TMID Editorial: Six weeks

Wednesday, 4 May 2022, 09:26 Last update: about 12 days ago

The State opening of Parliament will take place on Saturday, a full six weeks after the election was held on 26 March.

That day, the Labour Party obtained a record victory, the third in a row, and will be governing the country for the next five years.

In an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday, Nationalist Party whip Robert Cutajar complained that the government has taken too long to hold the first sitting of the new legislature.

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The Pope’s visit a week after the election, Easter week and the Labour Party’s general conference, not to mention the completion of the electoral process through the holding of casual elections and gender-corrective mechanism procedure, contributed to having this six-week gap.

This is, however, not the longest gap between an election and the State opening of Parliament. There were a total of nine weeks between 8 March and 11 May in 2008, when the Nationalist Party had won the election. In 2003, an election which was also won by the PN, it took six weeks to convene Parliament too.

In the previous two occasions, when the Labour Party led by Joseph Muscat won in 2013 and 2017, it took respectively four and three weeks for the first parliamentary sitting to be held.

We tend to agree that a six-week gap is way too long, and that the approach taken by the PL in 2013 and 2017 was a more appropriate way of doing things.

But, aside from this, in the past six weeks we have seen so little of Prime Minister Robert Abela and most ministers.

We understand that everyone is entitled to a break or holiday, and that the Easter week was ideally placed for members of the Cabinet to take a few days off and spend time with their families. It seems that most of them took the opportunity, and we do hope that they enjoyed themselves. Most of our ministers have young children, and it is good that they spent some time with them after the election campaign and aftermath. 

But now is the time to start turning the wheel again. The country has to deal with pressing issues that need the executive’s full concentration, while parliamentary sittings will also give the opportunity to the opposition to make its voice heard.

Matters such as the rising cost of living, largely brought about by the war in Ukraine, cannot go unaddressed for a long time. Consumers are realising that prices are going up in an extraordinary manner these last few weeks. And here we are not only talking about commodities one buys from the supermarket; we are also referring to prices in restaurants and in retail shops. It is clear that the extra expenses being incurred in transport costs are being passed on to the consumer.

The government will also have to start working on the implementation of the electoral programme, in which it listed 1,000 ideas. And it would not be amiss if some proposals made by the PN are also taken on board.

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