‘Ninvestu f’Malta tagħna’

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April, 2024 at 9:16 am by Andre Camilleri

As we get closer to election day, I am trying to stay away from commenting about foreign affairs matters, now that we launched the priorities of my campaign. Certainly, it is not that easy to shy away from the topic. However, I need to focus on local and European policies that improve people’s lives.

Last Friday, we launched a manifesto which pledges the priorities of my campaign. The manifesto entails four pillars and 20 proposals. We chose the slogan Ninvestu f’Malta tagħna which is not easily translatable in English. However, the best translation I got is, Investing in our Malta. The slogan depicts my professional background in economics and finance. It is a thought slogan, one, which is easily bridging the gap between politics and economics. The presented pillars were drafted after a series of meetings with different people and stakeholders, spanning over two years of hard work. We realised that people want something different. Whereas people are anxious of conflicts and wars, nonetheless, they need a vision which goes beyond what is happening abroad. In truth, this is just a redacted vision. My vision for the Maltese islands is much bigger, much more ambitious from an economic point of view. This is why I joined politics, to assist where necessary.  

However, this time I limited myself to four pillars, which includes the quality of life, the economy, the social, as well as security and diplomacy. Among others, for the first time I am proposing a new concept. The Right to adequate green space, is a novelty, also in view of court judgments abroad versus climate change and human rights. We need to start thinking differently, and revisit past planning. In Dom Mintoff’s times, the blocks of housing estates were all built and split with lovely shrubs, and green patches. They provided character and enough space and oxygen to breath in highly urbanised zones. What I am proposing is to work with the European Environment Agency, to research a scientific metric, that provides an analysis of what is needed in terms of green patches in highly urbanised zones, especially for a small territory like ours. We all long for better planning, and a better understanding of what is needed to provide a better quality of life. Besides, we are proposing to expand the assistance for homework at our states’ schools. We need more EU-funded programmes that provide more assistance, and we must blend it with EU budget guarantees to rope in the private sector. This would provide a new market, and in return it aids families that work long hours. What we mean is that after a day at work, families would spend more time with their children, and it allows more time for extracurricular events.

There are other priorities, especially under the Social Pillar. One of my priorities will be the push for a mental health strategy at an EU level. We need one. It is not a matter of procrastination anymore. We must dedicate resources where it really matters. This is impinging on people’s sanity. Another priority is to explore the idea of providing cheaper loans for affordable housing. We cannot have a situation where the market excludes new couples. We need an instrument that counterbalances market prices. We cannot interfere directly with the market. However, we must find a solution to counterbalance the rate with which prices increase, especially when economic growth is high. The idea is to explore cheaper credit under the social part of ESG that are provided to foundations for affordable housing. Let’s say that we provide cheaper credit to a foundation, and the market prices are slashed by 25% or 30%. The limited stock on the market would counterbalance the increase in market prices. Technically, the limited stock under such schemes would act as a balancing factor with which prices rise in the market. We need to explore new financial instruments that give a better life to others and crowd in new property owners in the market.

Another priority is the need to focus on climate security, as well as food security. These are topics which nobody is taking seriously at EU level. We must think about situations of force majeure. We are not new to this, and climate security is becoming even more pressing. What we need to start talking about is the quality of food that we are eating, the space and storages required to store food in case of a crisis, as well as pushing for a generation renewal when it comes to the agricultural sector. Unless we provide a decent income, and a decent profit, we cannot expect the new generation to tap into the agricultural market. If we lose this in Europe we lose our identity. Another priority, which I want to focus on, is the revision of trade agreements with third states. It is not enough to impose certain conditions. We require proper visibility of what is actually happening on the ground. Our farmers need to compete fairly with third states. The EU regulations in place, within the agricultural sector, are quite complex and strict, so our Euroepan farmers are not on the same level playing field when it comes to costs and market prices.

Clearly, I want to ascertain that the insurance industry does not exclude anyone from purchasing a health insurance on the ground of risks. This must be reflected in the risk premia, and not in excluding consumers from the market. It is discriminatory and provides hardships, especially to those who are trying to build a new life. What I am proposing is to have this regulated to the point that no one is excluded from the market, by having a dedicated trust fund to support these consumers. We need a social Europe, not a defence Union. Unless we choose to come to terms with reality and admit that we cannot have a defence union at the expense of a less social Europe, we cannot move forward. Lastly, what is happening in the Middle East, especially with Iran’s counterattack on Israel, after Israel’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, might have a regional impact if it escalates to a regional conflict.

Well, in God we trust!

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