Tony Zahra, Pres­i­dent of the Malta Ho­tels and Restau­rants As­so­ci­a­tion

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

“The pro­pos­als sub­mit­ted by MHRA were ti­tled ‘Shar­ing Val­ues’ and this in keep­ing with the MHRA vi­sion that we talk about the bud­get in a holis­tic man­ner. Shar­ing val­ues makes the point that eco­nomic growth must be seen and felt by all in so­ci­ety. MHRA wishes to see a larger per­cent­age of the bud­get spent on in­fra­struc­ture, which over the years was very much an af­ter­thought and we are to­day suf­fer­ing the ef­fects of this lack of in­vest­ment. The gov­ern­ment now not only has to in­vest to keep up with to­day’s re­quire­ments but ac­tu­ally in­vest to catch up. With­out this in­vest­ment, Malta will lose its com­pet­i­tive­ness.

Mr Zahra said the ques­tion on the eco­nomic sce­nario was re­lated to the pre­vi­ous ques­tion. “We ei­ther in­vest larger per­cent­age amounts in in­fra­struc­ture now, to have a fu­ture to­mor­row, or be more gen­er­ous to­day and risk our fu­ture pros­per­ity. I be­lieve that we owe it to the gen­er­a­tion fol­low­ing us to in­vest in their fu­ture too.”

Mr Zahra named pro­pos­als on sec­ond-pil­lar pen­sions in re­ply to the third ques­tion. “We have to bring in the sec­ond pil­lar of the pen­sions and we have to ratchet up the third pil­lar tax ben­e­fit from the present mis­er­able tax al­lowance of €150 per an­num to at least €2,000 per an­num. These two mea­sures will en­sure that peo­ple reach­ing pen­sion­able age will have other in­come to sup­ple­ment the gov­ern­ment pen­sion and there­fore avoid fall­ing into poverty on their re­tire­ment.”

The MHRA Pres­i­dent said the traf­fic sit­u­a­tion is the re­sult of a num­ber of missed op­por­tu­ni­ties and lack of in­vest­ment. “For ex­am­ple, in 1996 there was the ‘con­nec­tions pro­ject’ which when there was a change of gov­ern­ment was dropped. There are no easy so­lu­tions and cer­tainly no short-term so­lu­tions with­out chang­ing the way we travel. It is clear that the in­fra­struc­ture and the size of the is­land can­not sup­port the large amount of ve­hi­cles on the road. We doubt whether we can solve the prob­lem even if we placed huge amounts of money into in­fra­struc­ture. So we need to have a mass pub­lic trans­port sys­tem that works. But that might also re­quire tak­ing pri­vate ve­hi­cles off the road. Is this gov­ern­ment or any gov­ern­ment will­ing to take un­pop­u­lar de­ci­sions? Is the pop­u­la­tion at large ready for chang­ing their way of mo­bil­ity?”

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