The Malta Independent 26 February 2024, Monday
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National interest

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 23 November 2023, 07:00 Last update: about 4 months ago

At times one gets to doubt whether in Malta we are sufficiently clear as to where the national interest lies, and whether we know how to use (or want to use) all our skills to ensure that this interest is being well protected.

Such doubts have again been raised by the recent polemic about how a new European tax mechanism is being introduced on the fuel used by ships, as a result of which containers approaching European ports (like Malta Freeport) will incur significant cost increases. There was a big outcry from the private sector as soon as it became clear that the tax was due to enter into force. It blamed the government and MEPs for not having arranged to get the measure rolled back!

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I’m sorry but this measure has been at least three years in the making. It was contested by both government and MEPs. Whether they did this well enough or not is another matter.

However, what one fails to understand is why the private operators concerned stood up publicly to complain about the issue only when it  had gotten this far. Where were they? I hardly heard a tiny squeak from them during all this time.

The same has happened before on other issues.

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INSTITUTIONALISED RUTHLESSNESS

I believe there is no precedent for the ruthlessness with which the war in Gaza is being conducted. Despite all the sympathy that one must have had for the Israeli side after the hideous Hamas attack against civilians on the 7 October, and despite all the condemnations of that attack that must be maintained, the subsequent retaliation is yes, disproportionate, targeting as it has done innocent Palestinian civilians.

No argument advanced by Israel can continue to justify what is going on. The institutionalised ruthlessness which has become the order of the day is unacceptable. I wonder how Israel can imagine that it will retain the sympathy of outside countries and peoples given the manner by which it has persisted to carry out its “defence”.

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OECD

So at last, the Nationalist Party is in agreement that Malta should join the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, based in Paris. It is considered as the organisation of the “rich” countries but it also serves as a nursery for many new proposals about how the globalised commercial and financial system should be run. I always considered it made sense for Malta to have an entrance ticket to it, even more so since the island became an EU member. Up to not long ago, few agreed.

In 1997 I visited the OECD headquarters in Paris to open discussions for Malta to become a member. True, that process implied costs and obligations that needed to be assumed but I considered that it would all be worthwhile. In Paris there was an interest in a potential request by Malta to join.

However as soon as the governmernt in Malta changed, no further interest was shown in the matter and the whole idea died a natural death.

The Labour administration is doing well to revive the request which would have been set on the rails more than twenty five years ago and was subsequently thrown out of the window by a PN government! In reacting to the position adopted today by the Nationalist Opposition, one can only shrug.

                       

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