Na­tion­al­ist Party presents list of 91 pro­pos­als in pre-bud­get doc­u­ment

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Gabriel Schem­bri

The Na­tion­al­ist Party yes­ter­day pub­lished its pre-bud­get doc­u­ment with a list of 91 pro­pos­als.

Most of the pro­pos­als pre­sented had pre­vi­ously been men­tioned by PN Leader Si­mon Busut­til dur­ing his In­de­pen­dence Day speech in Flo­ri­ana. How­ever, the new 76-page doc­u­ment, which is named ‘Let’s All Suc­ceed To­gether’, looks into var­i­ous sec­tors with par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to health, en­ergy and Gozo.

The list of pro­pos­als was pre­sented in five seg­ments which in­clude eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, public spend­ing, so­cial jus­tice pack­age, the en­vi­ron­ment, health and ed­u­ca­tion.

As writ­ten in the first pages of the doc­u­ment, these pro­pos­als were pre­sented in the light of the fact, ac­cord­ing to the PN, that “there is a grow­ing dis­par­ity be­tween those that are prof­it­ing from the econ­omy and those that are strug­gling to make ends meet”.

Eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment

The PN is propos­ing fur­ther re­duc­tion in en­ergy tar­iffs, an idea which was also put for­ward by the GRTU and the Cham­ber of Com­merce. As re­it­er­ated in mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions, the PN is in­sist­ing that the fuel prices in Malta should be re­duced.

One pro­posal sug­gests the cre­ation of an ur­ban re­gen­er­a­tion fund which should be aimed at em­bel­lish­ing par­tic­u­lar ar­eas in var­i­ous lo­cal­i­ties.

State guar­an­tees for start-up in­vest­ments by young en­trepreneurs with “highly in­no­va­tive projects” up to a tune of €250,000.

The list of pro­pos­als fo­cuses a lot on the eco­nomic and ur­ban re­gen­er­a­tion of Gozo. In fact, the PN has ded­i­cated quite a long list of pro­pos­als re­lated to our sis­ter is­land. The pro­pos­als in­clude the pro­vi­sion of in­cen­tives for

busi­ness op­er­a­tors, the de­vel­op­ment of a long-term plan to ad­dress “the brain drain that has plagued Gozo.”

The PN also pro­poses the up­grad­ing and em­bel­lish­ment works in Xlendi, Dwe­jra and Marsal­forn ar­eas – three key tourism spots in Gozo. “These tourism hotspots are in dire need of fresh in­vest­ment since no im­prove­ment works were car­ried out over the past three years.”

Public spend­ing

This sec­tion pre­sented in the doc­u­ment re­lates to the need for the govern­ment to con­trol its spend­ing. The PN is calling for an in­de­pen­dent HR au­dit to de­ter­mine op­ti­mal staffing lev­els in the public sec­tor.

“Po­si­tions of trust should be rolled-back to the bare min­i­mum,” the Op­po­si­tion adds in the doc­u­ment.

It also calls for the need to ad­dress the pre­car­i­ous work in Gozo and the de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion of public ser­vices.

An in­ter­est­ing pro­posal sug­gests re­duc­ing the num­ber of Min­istries “since each di­vi­sion brings about an ex­po­nen­tial in­crease in op­er­a­tional costs.”

So­cial jus­tice

The PN doc­u­ment re­it­er­ates the call to in­crease the work­ing bonus. It also pro­poses the pos­si­ble in­tro­duc­tion of the sec­ond pil­lar pen­sion.

The PN be­lieves that the govern­ment should abol­ish in­come tax on pen­sions and con­sider re­duc­ing or elim­i­nat­ing the with­hold­ing tax on in­vest­ments held by pen­sion­ers who are liv­ing close or be­low the poverty line.

A rent sub­sidi­s­a­tion scheme on pri­vately owned prop­er­ties that pro­vides sub­sidy to ten­ants on rents paid for their or­di­nary res­i­dence leased from the pri­vate sec­tor was also men­tioned in the list. The PN said that this should be up­dated and ex­tended to take into ac­count and neu­tral­ize the in­crease in the rental costs of prop­er­ties in Malta and Gozo with­out im­ped­ing the right of pri­vate land­lords to es­tab­lish the rent.

“Re­duce the rent on so­cial hous­ing to 2013 lev­els by do­ing away with the so­cially un­just rental in­creases in­tro­duced by this ad­min­is­tra­tion,” it added.

It also pro­poses the idea of al­low­ing par­ents to take sick leave in cases that their chil­dren are sick.

En­vi­ron­ment and in­fra­struc­ture

The doc­u­ment urges the govern­ment to pub­lish a list of pri­or­i­ties which need to be ad­dressed through the money col­lected by the IIP cit­i­zen­ship scheme and the tourism tax.

It says that the govern­ment should also re­view the high rise pol­icy, es­pe­cially in light of re­cent de­vel­op­ment per­mits.

Gozo is men­tioned again as the PN pro­poses a fast-ferry ser­vice be­tween the two is­lands and the need to have a sec­ond fi­bre op­tic cable. It also calls for the works on the Marsal­forn break­wa­ter to start.

On trans­port, the PN is propos­ing a study to look into the fea­si­bil­ity of hav­ing a light rail­way sys­tem.

It also states that public trans­port sys­tem has not im­proved and this de­spite the tre­bling of the sub­sidy given to the public trans­port op­er­a­tor. “It is not sur­pris­ing that trans­port and traf­fic con­ges­tion, to­gether with cor­rup­tion, topped the list of public con­cerns in sur­veys car­ried out dur­ing 2016.”

Health and ed­u­ca­tion

As in­sisted upon be­fore in sev­eral oc­ca­sions, the PN is in­sist­ing that the govern­ment should pub­lish the con­tracts with Vitals Group on the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the Gozo, Karin Grech and St Luke’s Hospi­tals. It also calls for more bou­tique care for the el­derly in Gozo and, as Dr Busut­til said dur­ing his in­de­pen­dence speech, to have free medicines for all those on pen­sion.

On child­care, the Na­tion­al­ist Party is propos­ing that the ser­vice should be pro­vided for free even for those par­ents who are not in the work­ing force. The doc­u­ment goes on in men­tion­ing fur­ther in­vest­ment in sports fa­cil­i­ties and com­mu­nity care.

“The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry should as­sist fi­nan­cially Church and In­de­pen­dent schools in mak­ing sure that they have qual­ity grounds and sports re­sources,” it adds.

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