The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 16 November 2023, 06:57 Last update: about 19 days ago

Today there are some who complain that no long term economic and social planning is being done. I agree that such planning is necessary. The interesting thing to note though is that the same people also blame the socialist administration for its lack.

Now I do remember how in the past, when socialist administrations would publish their development plans, they would be accused of projecting a “Communist” vision of how to run an economy. For – so we would be told – economic guidance had best be left to the free market which can be in subservience to no plan... Actually before this, even Nationalist administrations had published plans for economic development.


So as that was the practice up to then, there was the expectation that the Nationalist government of the years 1987 – 1992 would follow in the steps of its predecessors and present its plan for the coming years.

As an Opposition MP in 1989 I submitted a parliamentary question asking when the next development plan was going to be published. The Nationalist government replied: Plans will not be published any more. They do not make sense and can give no results in a framework where the free market governs how people invest and find employment. There is no longer any need for planning.

As of now, we are still moving along that track. 



The government’s commitment to social solidarity makes a real difference in the case of those citizens who need most social support. The extent to which a government is prepared to practise such solidarity stamps the character of an administration in office.

It seems to me that not enough credit is being given to the government for its ongoing commitment to social solidarity, certainly not by those who criticise it, and perhaps as well by those who support it.

As with all governments, the Labour administration of Robert Abela can be criticised across a number of fronts, but with respect to social solidarity it has maintained an admirable consistency and perseverance.



It would be a mistake were the challenge of how to protect the island’s natural environment to be reduced to the question of how to build new subterranean passageways for cars over which gardens could be laid out.

In that kind of programme, the bulk of the available funds will be spent on constructing the road below rather than the gardens above.

If in the meantime, the lands on which development should not be allowed continue to be squeezed for one reason or another, the exercise would be futile. If afforestation efforts are not conducted with a thorough commitment, I fail to see how we can reach the environmental goals we all subscribe to. If the programmes which support agriculture do not result in an ever greater appropriate use of farm land, how can support be sustained for efforts designed to preserve land from encroachment by buildings?

In the environmental field, we need action that goes beyond the setting up of new public gardens by focussing in a detailed and dynamic way on how to preserve what is left of our natural heritage.

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