The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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Role for a senate?

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 27 March 2023, 08:00 Last update: about 2 years ago

Malta is one of the few countries with a unicameral Parliament. We have no Senate or an institution which could function as such.

It was not always like so. At times when the Parliament’s reach was much more limited for the island was still a colony, a second chamber did exist, in senate form. The experience was not succesful and soon got shelved.

I always believed that because of the country’s size, it made sense not to burden the governance machinery with too many institutions that would end up turning round and round while getting nowhere. On the other hand, the Maltese Parliament has over the years continued to increase in number so that today its MPs amount to quite a high double digit. It is not clear that as a result, the quality of debates has improved or that democratic accountability has increased.

Perhaps the time is approaching for a reconsideration of the dogma by which it is held that only a unicameral parliamentary system in this country could be the most effective. On the basis of  the monies being spent on just one chamber, two could be funded.

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VENI, VIDI, VICI

When in Malta, EP President Metsola was reported to have declared that “I have come... and I will be staying”. Which reminds one of that other statement made by Julius Caesar -- Veni, Vidi, Vici.  Most warmly, we welcome the President should she “stay”. Still doubts will arise about what could keep her here among us all. Caesar insisted that on the basis of what he saw, he conquered. What the EP President saw had been filtered by her party’s sensors. She could hardly have played it otherwise if she is to contest the coming European election, presumably on the PN ticket. She just wants to get re-elected. And well.

It also seems like she intends to continue repeating that obsessive, rather childish mantra of hers about “European values”. As of now, the MEPs of today who are impressed by that mantra are getting fewer.

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CONSUMERS

The need to protect the consumer gets many more mentions than “previously”. And it is also the case that more measures are in force to ensure that consumers do get protection. The question arises whether measures are being applied adequately and to their full extent.

Actually on a number of fronts, the Maltese consumer is still getting less than what he/she has paid for. Meanwhile, when something goes wrong with what he/she has purchased, not infrequently he/she is left without an adequate remedy. In the market for construction work; in drinks at bars and restaurants; on sales of clothes and sports and electronic products; in the hire and purchase of cars, and so on and so forth: complaints about excessively high prices, or a bad or inferior quality of product and service, abound. And these complaints do not get addressed, remaining just complaints.

One gets told that the laws are in place and that what the consumer just needs to do is apply them. A problem is that consumers all too often find themselves isolated. They conclude that in going for a frontal defence of their rights, the payback is bound to be much less than what they have to put upfront.

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