We as Alternattiva Demokratika Zghazagh had several expectations including a rise in minimum wage, more initiatives for alternative transport and measures to address a range of issues relating to the environment and our quality of life. Most initiatives smack of tokenism rather than a result of a longterm vision . We are very disappointed that no plan to revise how the minimum wage is calculated has been announced. Those most vulnerable in the economy deserve to be paid decent wages. A truly progressive government, we feel, would have addressed this issue, as recommended by several including Caritas.
The planned promotion of sports and healthy living through sports facilities in Fgura, a BMX park and the raising of taxes on cigarettes and soft-drinks will go some way in tackling public health issues. There is also an urgent need for the implementation of a sustainable mobility plan, moving from the drawing board to execution. Unfortunately such plans are not courageous enough, and fall short of our vision for sustainable mobility and the move towards a zero-carbon economy.
Students are a major group of commuting citizens. Everyday students must leave their residences and make their way to their college/school. They can walk, take the bus, cycle, use private communal transport or their own cars or motorbikes. As more people use cars as the preferred mode of transport, the islands’ roads are becoming more congested. Major roads do not cater for cyclists, in that they do not have bike lanes. It is important that cycling ‘highways’ are created linking all major educational establishments and built-up areas. The lack of safety on mjor traffic arteries are one major factor which discourages commuting by bicycle or pedelecs. This Budget has not seen any important initiatives to encourage alternative modes of transport.
Although the Budget has some positive measures to reduce individual car use, such as incentives for free communal transport for private and government entities, there is still a long way to go in this regard.
The installation of bike racks as proposed by the budget is in itself a good idea, however this is the bare minimum and far from what would actually encourage people to take up their bikes as a regular mode of commuting. Stricter enforcement of road regulations, a major expansion of bike lanes and significant incentives on electric assisted bikes – pedelecs – which are particularly suitable for longer distances over 8km and hilly routes.
Some people still think that people in rich and developed countries use cars to commute – in fact the opposite is happening – well educated people in developed countries are choosing bicycles and pedelecs to move around and lots of cities in the EU spend money on bicycle infrastructure. The results are less cars on the road, a healthier population, cleaner air and a better quality of life.
Yesterday marked the start of the finch trapping season despite EU action, showing complete disregard towards our international obligations as a country, animal welfare and nature conservation.
The PN is not opposed to this decision, despite recently trying to appeal to animal lovers and environmentalists.
Trapping clears away considerable patches of land from Meditarrean vegetation and puts song birds behind the bars for their shortened lifetime. It’s about time to put an end to this madness!
Daniel Desira – ADZ Public Relations Officer
Budget 2017 in a nutshell – here are some highlights that us at ADZ are expecting
Road Safety: In recent light of traffic accidents, including unfortunate fatalities, we feel that part of the Budget should be dedicated to road safety measures which include extensive educational advertising campaigns by Government and Transport Malta to encourage road education, improvement in road quality to higher standards and increase penalties for traffic violation. Traffic fines should be allocated accordingly to improve the state in which many roads are to be found.
Sports: We would like the Government to create an intensive educational campaign on obesity and the problems associated to seriously tackle the problem. Additionally, the long overdue sports village should receive sufficient funds for its’ purpose and students attending higher education institutes should have subsidised fees for gyms, sports activities and nutritional advice.
Health – Health centres and polyclinics should receive new funding for better equipment, customer service and medicines. St Lukes Hospital should receive a new embellishment scheme to introduce as a “new health village”. We also urge the government to enforce measures on air and sea quality and tackle drug and alcohol abuse. These measures could include educational campaigns and better law enforcement as well as counselling programmes. Mater Dei should receive the funding it requires to improve bed shortage, queue problems and customer service. We also hope that the Gozo General Hospital embellishment receives its funds to provide the best health service to Gozo.
Environment & Cultural Heritage – We strongly believe that necessary funds should be allocated to protect natural areas, for the introduction of more educational programs and campaigns on the environment and for the protection of wildlife and bird migration. Heavier penalties should be imposed on illegal dumping of waste. The Cleansing Directorate should be adequately funded to clean up Malta and cameras may be installed for more effective enforcement.
We recommend that a Wildlife Unit should be setup to handle poaching, illegal hunting and illegal fishing activities. More funding for agriculture and upkeep and general cleanliness of the Maltese countryside should be allocated also. Country roads should be well maintained. Historic and cultural buildings should receive funding and protection, as well as touristic promotion for locals and foreigners alike.
Traffic: We recomend carpooling programs, better public transport through increased investment, encouragement of water transport, better VRT regulations on emissions locally and on an EU level and funding towards traffic management systems during peak hours.
Today’s budget should reflect society and its needs. We are looking forward to the budget of social justice and towards progressive ideas to fund projects which help the Maltese citizens achieve a higher standard of living without forsaking its environment and culture.
We believe in a Budget that will tackle modern day issues and yet achieve results of a booming economy with a social conscious. This Budget should focus on growth of the economy without overspending and one that helps citizens feel that 2017 will be a year of progress and social justice.
Our AGM, held last Thursday 23rd June at Voluntary Centre, was attended by several of our executive and members as well as a few AD members.
Former ADZ chairperson Marc Andrea Cassar and AD secretary general Ralph Cassar have made a welcome speech.
The agenda and minutes were then approved, followed by the annual report. The report included the major events and activities held by ADZ such as kick starting the YMCA project, the launch of our activities working group, a press conference on safety in PaceVille, PRs and blog posts on a number of issues, being involved in a number of movements and increased communication with AD, our mother party.
The new executive’s election followed the discussion of the report. The following exec members have been elected:
James Gabarretta – Chairperson
Marc’ Andrea Cassar – Vice Chairperson
Anna Azzopardi – Secretary General
Daniel Desira – Public Relations Officer
Nizar Hingari – Treasurer
Pascal Aloisio – Publications Officer
Danica Formosa – International Secretary
Glen Spiteri – Exec Member
Mathew Seychell – Exec Member