After parliament dissolves and the election commences, modern day campaigning in Malta looks like press conferences on a daily basis and a race for the best product to win. For some of us, we indulge in nothing more than watching anything from the comfort of our own home, with keen eyes from our sofa or reclining armchair- this is one of those times.
What are we criticising?
The initial press conferences of the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party, their proposals and everything that’s happened so far.
What do we know so far?
In a surprising turn of events, Kristy Debono, Mario Galea, Clyde Puli and Claudio Grech, veteran Nationalist Party candidates have announced that they will not be contesting for the upcoming election, each citing different reasons. Some reasons have included dedicating time to family to half-baked measures and making way for novel candidates. The Labour Party has dedicated their first press conference to the ambition of green projects. The Nationalist Party put all eyes on their billion-euro investment in their first press conference.
Labour’s Pledge to Go Green
Today’s press conference focuses on the first pillar of the labour campaign – the environment. In today’s press conference, Prime Minister Robert Abela opens the conference by making his objectives clear and maintaining the 700-million-euro pledge for green and open spaces. The impetus behind this proposal, such as quality of life and how investing in the environment is rewarding in an array of aspects.
The initial project, pitches to convert rural and industrial zones into green spaces. The Party gave further detail of the projects, pointing at the location where the projects will commence.
First is a parking space in Bormla, which was initially intended for the use of the American University of Malta. The parking will not be done away with completely, rather, it will be put underground while the current space will be replenished with a new green space. The second locality is in San Gwann, where the project will be executed in the heart of the town- this particular project will be an extension to a current open green space. The third green space will see its execution in the island of Gozo, more specifically the village of Rabat.
The Labour Party is taking its commitment on a European level to going green religiously.
In Hamrun, a surprising project will see the conversion of a current milk factory to an open green recreational space. This will also include an underground parking space. In a further interesting pledge, Birkirkara will see the valley returned to its original state and further substantiated by addressing that any concerns with water flooding have been catered for with ensuring an adequate infrastructure.
The commitment to prevent afforestation and increase green spaces in urban and rural areas was once again re-introduced. Previous projects carried out by the current legislature were acknowledged, which included the increase of green walls. Furthermore, a proposal for a new open space in Santa Venera, an area which causes several inconveniences for traffic was also included. The aim is to further incentivise lower emissions and accessibility to the proposed green space by families in the surrounding area. Interestingly, time and time again the proposal for Floriana’s Saint Anne Street to go green has been taken into consideration and is one of the projects on the radar for the aforementioned 700-million-euro investment. Previous projects carried out by the current legislature, which are presumptions of the new projects to be carried out if a Labour Government is elected once again. These include Birgu, Bormla and a geological park in Zurrieq, to name a few.
It is to be said that today’s press conference did not fall short of appealing aesthetics which added up to a contemporary and sleek presentation from the Labour Party’s end. From this press conference, it shows further that the Labour Party is taking its commitment on a European level to going green religiously. What this might make one think, is what the Labour Party will propose that will incentivise for traffic control, given Malta’s registered stock of licensed vehicles, which currently stands over 400,000. Possibly a further proposal in the coming days? Only one way to find out.
Solid Answers: 8
The Nationalist Party’s Economic U-turn
The Nationalist Party’s conference opens with the leader of the opposition, the Hon. Dr. Bernard Grech, speaking from the Nationalist Party Headquarters, with Nationalist Party candidates applauding him as they sit behind him. Grech does not hesitate to make his ambitions clear- he proposes that if the electorate trusts the Nationalist Party to lead the charge, a Nationalist Government will see that tax and social contributions accumulated during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic will be paid during a period of 8 years, with the scope of aiding businesses with cash flow problems as a result of the pandemic. He promises to address an anomaly to those serving Malta by enrolling in the disciplinary corps, by immediately receiving their pension aside from their general wage, as well as returning back money from energy bills and taxes. He further goes on to assert that he will further incentivise sports and the arts.
The leader of the opposition moves on to speak about the star proposal which raised a few eyebrows- the 1-billion-euro investment into 10 novel economic sectors. Grech suggests that the Labour Party’s 700-million-euro proposal is a knee-jerk reaction and that it is easy to make unsubstantiated investment promises, whereas the Nationalist Party will implant a general blanket initiative which incentivises everyone. He further claims that this proposal is testament to previous Nationalist Party’s administrations endeavours in investing in the economy. Grech takes credit for several economic sectors, including the aviation, gaming, pharmaceuticals and maritime sector.
The new economic sectors will include: the Metaverse, Compliance and Due Diligence, Robotics, 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, e-Sports, start-ups aiming at the creation of video games, the sports industry, which although might not be new, the Nationalist Party aims to conjoin it with the medical and tourism industry to maintain a strong economic pillar. Furthermore, the Hon. Gentleman wishes to see further investment in the energy sector. With regards to the fund, Grech affirms that the fund will accumulate to its use in two ways: from public funds and the generation of a loan.
The presentation of this major proposal once again, seems loosely deconstructed. While this proposal is ambitious and at first sight tempting, in practice little was provided on the modus operandi of how Grech will go about providing and executing his proposals, thus, a solid plan is lacking. Further consideration should be given to the presentation of the party’s vision. Contrary to his general approach in previous years, Grech has now started to take a more welcoming approach to economic-centred proposals, a massive U-turn when compared to his general conduct in his term as a Leader of the Opposition so far.
The major aforementioned proposal is somewhat concerning for the proposed half of the quantified billion-euro-investment is essentially a loan, and not a precarious loan- which essentially defeats the purpose of the sanctification of this investment. The second issue is that while this grandeur of an investment is worth notice, what is more concerning is the announcement of long-time committed Nationalist Party candidates announcing their intention to not contest in this election. What is shocking is not their decision to step aside, rather, the timing at which they announced it (on the very first day of the campaign). At least, Grech remains ambitious.
Solid Answers: 6