Don’t ig­nore traf­fic prob­lems

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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

Ed­i­tor’s pick

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.

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