Fi­nan­cial pros­per­ity should re­sult in bet­ter qual­ity of life says Church’s Jus­tice and Peace Com­mis­sion

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

The Jus­tice and Peace Com­mis­sion believes that the fi­nan­cial pros­per­ity cur­rently be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced should trans­late into a bet­ter qual­ity of life for every­one, and said as much in its pro­pos­als for the up­com­ing bud­get.

In its doc­u­ment, the Com­mis­sion made rec­om­men­da­tions in re­la­tion to five ma­jor fo­cus ar­eas: trans­port, the en­vi­ron­ment, health, af­ford­able hous­ing and mi­gra­tion which are high­lighted be­low.

TRANS­PORT

More long-term so­lu­tions, rather than quick-fixes, are needed. These could in­clude the im­prove­ment of our in­fra­struc­ture to al­low pub­lic trans­port, car­pool­ing, walk­ing and cy­cling to re­ally be­come valid al­ter­na­tives to pri­vate ve­hi­cles. Im­ple­ment­ing the Malta Trans­port Strat­egy 2050 and the Malta Trans­port Mas­ter Plan for 2025 is also en­cour­aged. Al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions such as tele­work­ing could also be con­sid­ered.

THE EN­VI­RON­MENT

The pro­vi­sion of a Cir­cu­lar Econ­omy model, which could be ap­plied to the lo­cal scene, is nec­es­sary. Au­thor­i­ties are to work for a cleaner is­land through the in­tro­duc­tion of more green ar­eas. More­over, for­ward plan­ning for the ef­fi­cient use of land should be en­sured, along with the pro­tec­tion of our en­vi­ron­men­tal her­itage.

HEALTH

Tar­get­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal and traf­fic is­sues should al­ready be lead­ing to health­ier liv­ing. The prob­lem of obe­sity must also be tack­led, with con­crete ac­tions such as in­creas­ing the amount of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity in schools, the in­tro­duc­tion of mea­sures to limit the con­sump­tion of un­healthy food and in­cen­tives to walk and/or cy­cle. Re­sources should be di­rected to­wards men­tal health­care to pro­vide qual­ity ser­vices to both pa­tients as well as mem­bers of their fam­ily and/or car­ers.

AF­FORD­ABLE HOUS­ING

In or­der to al­le­vi­ate some of the fi­nan­cial bur­dens in­curred in re­spect of hous­ing, the govern­ment should look into dif­fer­ent schemes, such as (i) a shared own­er­ship hous­ing scheme; (ii) a govern­ment mort­gage guar­an­tee and (iii) a de­duc­tion of the in­ter­est on loans from taxes. The Com­mis­sion awaits the pub­li­ca­tion of the White Pa­per on the rental mar­ket and hopes that it will in­clude var­i­ous so­lu­tions.

MI­GRA­TION

In terms of for­eign work­ers, the govern­ment should en­sure that op­ti­mal and equal work­ing con­di­tions are en­joyed by all, ir­re­spec­tive of their na­tion­al­ity. This could be done through the set­ting up of a le­gal ad­vice of­fice to pro­vide third-coun­try na­tion­als with in­for­ma­tion about their rights and obli­ga­tions. Lo­cal leg­is­la­tion should be amended to in­clude the ef­fec­tive pro­tec­tion of mi­grant work­ers who re­port abuse. In­te­gra­tion pro­grammes are also en­cour­aged. In terms of asy­lum seek­ers and refugees, the Com­mis­sion re­news its plea to re­spect the hu­man­ity of these in­di­vid­u­als. The Govern­ment should in­vest in the Ini­tial Re­cep­tion Cen­tre where such in­di­vid­u­als are first wel­comed. Fur­ther ef­forts should be in­vested in the fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion of such in­di­vid­u­als, both recog­nised refugees and ben­e­fi­cia­ries of sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion.

The Com­mis­sion con­cludes with the words of Pope Fran­cis: “tech­no­log­i­cal and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment which does not leave in its wake a bet­ter world and an in­te­grally higher qual­ity of life can­not be con­sid­ered progress”, and calls for a change in the way we con­sider progress not just in mere eco­nomic terms.

“We need to change the way we con­sume and treat the en­vi­ron­ment; the way we make our daily de­ci­sions, and how we in­vest. The govern­ment can as­sist in chang­ing these be­havioural traits through fur­ther in­vest­ment in the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem and by en­sur­ing that ed­u­ca­tion does not fo­cus solely on en­abling stu­dents to pass their ex­am­i­na­tions but also on en­abling them to be­come crit­i­cal thinkers, ma­ture dis­cern­ing adults and there­fore re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens. Only in this way will we be able to make sure that the eco­nomic ben­e­fits will truly lead to a bet­ter qual­ity of life for every­one, in­clud­ing cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,” the Com­mis­sion said.

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