Don’t ignore traffic problems
Much of the aura and secrecy surrounding the presentation of the country’s budget has been lost over the years. There were times when budgets were used to announce 1creductions in the price of tuna or a 2c-increase in the price of bread, measures which were dumped on the people overnight.
But since the Nationalist Party in government introduced a system in which a pre-budget document is prepared and amply discussed by the social partners and the media before the final statement is drawn up, a process that was thankfully picked up by Labour, much of what will be said tonight will not come as a surprise.
After all, the budget is a financial exercise that covers the country’s economy in a comprehensive way, although it is sad to note that most people still look at it solely as the day when they get some increase in their salary or pension.
What Finance Minister Edward Scicluna will
say tonight – hopefully in as short a time as possible – is by and large already known. And it is also good to note that the parliamentary sessions debating the budgetary measures will not drag on for weeks, but will be squeezed into a few days. This will add more pressure on journalists and media houses, but at the end of the day, Parliament needs to move on to other matters besides the budget. We urge MPs who will be speaking up during the debates to really look into the budget in an analytical way, and not repeat what has been said over and over again or use their allotted time to attack whoever is sitting on the opposite side.
To go back to the budget presentation tonight, what we are all hoping to see is some kind of plan by the government to mitigate the traffic problem. The social partners themselves, as can be seen in the story we are publishing on the front page today, have come up with ideas through which this issue can be tackled. So many man-hours are wasted in traffic these days, and we are sure that the country’s productivity as a whole is suffering because workers arrive late for work or, those whose job is on the road, are always late in providing their services. Public transport, it must be admitted, leaves so much to be desired.
The fact that the number of cars on the road has surpassed 356,000 – that’s more than one car per adult population – should push the government into coming up with a serious, long-term plan to improve the road network. Just to give one example, the Kappara Junction project will no doubt help the traffic flow in the area, but drivers know they will still end up in a long line of traffic at the Santa Venera tunnels.
The government has so far belittled the problem. But it cannot continue to ignore it.