The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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Uncomfortable realities

Sunday, 4 February 2024, 09:02 Last update: about 3 months ago

Anthony Zarb Dimech

As the years roll on by, one cannot fail to notice the fast rate of change our country is experiencing. Some, with vested interests view these changes as welcome and positive while others call it progressively regressive and downright destructive. In this article I will tackle some salient characteristics that are coming increasingly to the fore in our nation.



Emulating Dubai

Our country is becoming the Dubai of the Mediterranean Sea. Not only are tower cranes dominating the Maltese sunset’s skyline silhouette, but also monstrous high-rise buildings. This new architecture is becoming the new feature of Maltese aesthetics. In the process, one cannot help noticing similarities between the Dubai economic model and the Maltese one.

Malta may not have the tallest buildings in the world, (although we are going higher by the day) or the rich oil reserves as Dubai, but behind all the hustle and bustle of the Maltese construction craze, lurks an ugly reality that requires exposure and correction.

As in Dubai, we have many migrant workers in our midst, living in small apartments housing up to 20 or 30 persons. Their accommodation is claustrophobic and highly unsanitary, going against sanitary legislation.

We also have a situation where working standards and wages are meagre and migrant workers have no option but to accept whatever their employers are paying them.

When economic growth and expansion is becoming the sole priority, as it so happens in most capitalistic economies, like in Malta, the ugly truth is that behind the facade of the elaborate construction and finished buildings lies a hidden horror of modern-day human slavery!

Are we trying to hide this deplorable truth in Malta?


The grim reality of modern-day slavery

According to the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, Geneva, September 2022 from Walk Free, the International Labour Organisation and the International Organisation for Migration:

  • 49.6 million people live in modern slavery – in forced labour and forced marriage;
  • Roughly a quarter of all victims of modern slavery are children;
  • 22 million people are in forced marriages. Two out of five were children;
  • Of the 27.6 million people trapped in forced labour, 17.3 million are in forced labour exploitation in the private economy, 6.3 million are in commercial sexual exploitation and nearly 4 million are in forced labour imposed by state authorities;
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the conditions that lead to modern slavery; and
  • Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to forced labour.


New environmental taxes

The European Union is set to introduce new environmental taxes in March as part of its efforts to tackle climate change and foster a cleaner environment. The EU has set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and to become a climate-neutral continent by 2050.

The new fiscal instruments include the carbon border adjustment mechanism, the digital levy, the financial transaction tax, the market access tax and the levy on non-recycled plastic packaging waste. The largest incentive package ever funded from the EU budget will be covered by these new fiscal instruments.

These taxes inflate production costs. Higher prices on the goods will have the effect of discouraging consumers from purchasing them and further reducing their impact on pollution. Research has proved that such price rises disproportionately affect low-income consumers. This means that if, to take a simple illustration, a Maltese low-income earner wishes to have a weekend break in Sicily, the travelling fare for a Catamaran ticket will be impacted with say a 30% rise. But this rise will have little impact on those who are high-income earners.


Consenting to new EU taxes

Where it comes to the importation of goods to Malta, import agents and retailers will pay for these new taxes and hence make less profits. This measure is done in order that these new taxes are “hidden” and the impression that no new taxes were introduced. So, if, for example, a retailer buys imported pasta from Italy through an agent and makes a 20 cents profit, the retailer will have to deduct out of this profit a percentage to make good for the new tax. But will the government reduce any other tax for the import agent and retailer to compensate for this new environment tax?

The government, from its part, must accept these taxes because they are imposed by the EU. But the consequences will be felt mostly by lower income earners. 


Climate change or the ‘toxic’ agenda?

As the EU imposes new environmental taxes to combat pollution, it is ironically noticed that on clear sunny days, chemtrails fill our blue skies. Are these chemtrails the real culprits causing climate change? We must remember that our  fields are rich in crops of all sorts (tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers and so on). These are being poisoned through cloud seeding and chemtrails using different types of weather modification techniques. Thanks to chemtrails, the air is being filled with poison and when it rains, these toxins infiltrate everywhere. And through cloud seeding, an artificial climate change happens!


Layoffs and AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also round the corner. It is estimated that about 40% of the labour force will be redundant due to AI. So, they ask you, how many people have you got working in your big factory?500 or 5,000? You do not need them. They are a liability and you are paying so much for these employees. You have to pay for their sick leave, vacation leave and pensions. And if they do extra time, you have to pay them more. AI is projected to impact nearly 40% of global jobs, with advanced economies expected to bear a greater share of the consequences compared to emerging markets and low-income countries, according to an analysis by the International Monetary Fund reported by Bloomberg.


The Glyphosate Scourge

Glyphosate is everywhere. It blankets our crops and contaminates our playgrounds – it’s so prevalent that none of us can escape it. In a study last year, the herbicide was found in a shocking 87% of children’s urine!

We know just how dangerous this poison is. It has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. A new bombshell report just exposed that it’s harmful to the function of an adolescent brain. Since it is also an antibiotic, new research reveals it can affect the gut health of humans and other species, potentially leading to serious diseases. And it is decimating our pollinators and soil health.

PAN Europe’s lawsuit will argue that by renewing the glyphosate’s license, the EU failed to consider all the independent evidence showing how glyphosate could cause harm to the public or the environment. Pesticides, banned by the EU, were until last year still widely used in EU countries, using a legal loophole for “emergency authorisations”.

The growing scientific evidence of the harm being caused to our water table, pollinators (honeybees, butterflies, flies, beetles, wasps, moths, bats and birds) and all the substances we ingest by the unnatural manipulation of the environment cannot be ignored.

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