How can we say the econ­omy is do­ing well when the peo­ple aren’t?

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Noel Grima

How can the gov­ern­ment keep claim­ing that the Mal­tese econ­omy is do­ing well when the peo­ple are not, Si­mon Busut­til asked yes­ter­day morn­ing when he was in­ter­viewed on Ra­dio 101.

We can now speak of the four years of the Labour ad­min­is­tra­tion, Dr Busut­til be­gan, and all we can see is bluff, pro­pa­ganda and self-praise. But peo­ple are not see­ing things in this way.

The gov­ern­ment called this Bud­get a So­cial Bud­get but many are find­ing this Bud­get leaves them where they were.

Peo­ple espe­cially in cer­tain dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions, like pen­sion­ers, are find­ing they can­not make it to the end of the month.

In his speech in re­ply to the Bud­get Speech, he (Dr Busut­til) had quoted from the gov­ern­ment’s own Eco­nomic Sur­vey which sur­veyed com­pa­nies that be­tween them em­ploy some 31,000 work­ers.

It com­pared their costs in Au­gust 2015 and in Au­gust this year and found that their costs have risen. So the in­creases given last year have not suc­ceeded in keep­ing up with the cost of liv­ing.

These per­sons in­clude em­ploy­ees of re­tail out­lets (some 25,000), in the print­ing in­dus­try, in the ser­vic­ing in­dus­try, in food and bev­er­age out­lets, in ho­tels and cater­ing es­tab­lish­ments - over 70,000 in all.

It was only now, after four years in of­fice, that the prime min­is­ter talked about the min­i­mum wage, so any in­crease in this will only take place after next year’s Bud­get.

In 2010, Dr Mus­cat had spo­ken about the liv­ing wage and con­cluded the time was not right for its in­tro­duc­tion.

Now some or­gan­i­sa­tions have come forth and pro­posed a 3.5% in­crease each year for three years, so 10% over three years.

He (Dr Busut­til) had im­me­di­ately agreed to dis­cuss this pro­posal and sug­gested it is dis­cussed at MCESD but the Prime Min­is­ter has not said yet if he agrees with the pro­posal.

The Bud­get Speech has not brought about im­prove­ments to the pen­sion­ers ex­cept to a small mi­nor­ity of them. Many pen­sion­ers have been given an in­crease of €2.25 a week, which amounts to €117 a year.

Peo­ple de­scribed in the Car­i­tas re­port as be­ing at risk of poverty must be helped.

Dr Busut­til then spoke about Satur­day’s protest in Sliema. He said the peo­ple feel aban­doned by their own gov­ern­ment. Sliema, they feel, has be­come on big con­struc­tion site.

The re­cently-pub­lished Master­plan for Paceville was pub­lished with a lot of pomp but then when they looked closer, many peo­ple were shocked to find out they will be af­fected by the Master­plan. Restau­rants and small out­lets will be closed down and the whole area faces 15 years of con­struc­tion.

Then peo­ple found out the Master­plan was tai­lored for the ben­e­fit of some big com­pa­nies only. The con­sul­tant who drew up the Master­plan was found out to be the con­sul­tant of one of the big com­pa­nies that will ben­e­fit from it.

PA Chair­man Jo­hann But­tigieg saw no con­flict of in­ter­est in this but Deb­o­rah Schem­bri, his su­pe­rior, said she had not been made aware of this.

Then she an­nounced a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion about the whole thing, which should have been car­ried out be­fore the Master­plan was pub­lished. She must shoul­der her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

It would seem that hav­ing kept Kon­rad Mizzi and Keith Schem­bri at their posts, the prime min­is­ter lost all abil­ity to con­trol his gov­ern­ment.

Fi­nally, Dr Busut­til spoke about the hos­pi­tals scan­dal. On 30 Novem­ber 2015 the gov­ern­ment agreed to pri­va­tise the Gozo and St Luke’s Hos­pi­tals. Two days later an ac­count was opened in Panama.

It is time for peo­ple to wake up. PN com­mits it­self to act­ing dif­fer­ently. It is un­think­able that Joseph Mus­cat, hav­ing done all this in his first term, be given a sec­ond term.

A fu­ture PN gov­ern­ment com­mits it­self to act in favour of peo­ple, to im­ple­ment so­cial jus­tice, to pro­vide free medicines to the el­derly, and to im­prove the qual­ity of life.

The gov­ern­ment called this Bud­get a So­cial Bud­get but many are find­ing this Bud­get leaves them where they were.

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