We need to abolish spring hunting, not a moratorium!

It is promising to see that FKNK has finally acknowledged the fact that the turtle dove is in risk of extinction, as environmental NGOs and AD have been saying for long.

However, putting a moratorium on turtle dove hunting is not enough. Spring hunting should be abolished once and for all, since killing birds on their way to breed does not comply with the principles of conservation.

In addition, PL’s and PN’s support for spring hunting regardless of scientific data goes to show the 2 parties’ preference for votes from the hunting lobby over the environmental protection they both promise.

Daniel Desira ADZ Spokesperson

A turtle dove at Simar Nature Reserve. Photo: Ray Galea

Why I hate tax avoidance

To start off I’ll make it very clear, this blog will not be political in nature. Tax avoidance occurs everywhere, and it needs to stop. Locally, people don’t seem to give a hoot about tax avoidance. Government and opposition supporters use the term to throw insults at each other. This is of course greatly irresponsible, since these people do not appreciate the consequences of tax avoidance.

So why should we care so much about tax avoidance you ask? Here it goes.

When citizens avoid tax, the country loses money. Global estimates of money lost to tax avoidance vary from below and above $20 trillion. What could be done with that money?

The first thing that comes to mind is more investment in medical research. In most cases research on diseases is greatly underfunded. Part of the reasons medical research is underfunded comes from tax evasion. Who knows how many diseases could have been cured? Who knows how many lives would have been saved if people didn’t avoid paying their tax.

The same thing applies to medical care. Maybe our hospitals wouldn’t be overcrowded if we had more money in the pot.

And what about education? How much more could we invest to improve our educational system? Goodness me, maybe we wouldn’t have all those children making it out of school without any qualifications.

Finally we must also look at the most vulnerable people, such as those experiencing poverty. If people paid their tax we could invest more and help provide people experiencing poverty a better chance in life.

Granted, money is not the only problem, and these problems cannot be solved only by throwing money at them. However I’m 100% certain that more money in the pot would at the very least help.

I’d like to conclude by stating that we need to curb tax evasion and take it more seriously. People who avoid and people who help other avoid paying tax are leeches who need to be punished.

Marc’ Andrea Cassar

ADŻ stresses need for maintenance grants

ADŻ has stressed the need for maintenance grants in post secondary education. ADŻ believes that maintenance grants allow students from all economic backgrounds to get an opportunity to study and educate themselves.  Without maintenance grants, students coming from low income and median income families may not have the opportunity to focus on their studies.

ADŻ chairperson Marc’ Andrea Cassar believes that: “We should increase the funds available for research. The research that University carries out is very important. However these necessary increases in research funds should not be done at the expense of student maintenance grants, as these grants are essential for providing more opportunities to all citizens. There are other means by which to gather funds.”

ADŻ spokesperson Matthew Seychell further stated that: “ Maintenance grants promote social equity. Removing such grants will prevent capable individuals from studying and reaching their full potential”.  He continued by stating that: “With maintenance grants, capable and talented individuals can further their education and contribute to Maltese society.”

Fair pay for apprentices

This week I discussed the issue of the remuneration of MCAST
apprentices with my colleagues at Alternattiva Demokratika Zghazagh.

The apprenticeship scheme is commendable, since it gives apprentices
the opportunity to expand their technical skills and knowledge. Recent improvements to the scheme are also very welcome, however there is a major issue which
needs to be addressed.

During the summer months, students work on a full-time basis, that is
fourty hours per week. They would have already undergone training
during the academic year – working 16 hours per week. Apprentices
often carry out the same jobs of other employees, at the same quality,
but are paid an allowance for their work instead of a wage. The
stipulated working times, makes it difficult for students from finding
jobs on a part time basis, to supplement their income. We at ADZ
believe that the apprenticeship concept is a one beneficial one,
especially in the field of vocational education and that therefore it
should be improved upon. It is unfair for students who work as
full-timers during the summer months, to be paid an allowance for
full-time work. The minimum pay should be that of all other employees
whatever their skill level – that is, at least the minimum wage.

This point has also been made by the European Trade Union Council
(ETUC) in their policy document issued very recently – ‘A European
Quality Framework for Apprenticeships’ – in which ETUC asks that
‘Apprenticeship schemes should ensure that apprentices are paid by the
employer, according to collective agreements, or a national and/or
sectoral minimum legal wage, for the period of training’ (p. 36).

We at ADZ appeal to Maltese trade unions to take up the call of ETUC
and help apprentices to get a fair pay for their work.

ETUC proposals:

James Gabarretta, Alternattiva Demokratika Zghazagh