The Armchair Critic | Stand and Deliver

After returning to work from a weekend of soaking up the sun, everyone arguably has their own way of relaxing after a day’s work. Some of us however, enjoy nothing more than returning home, pouring a glass of red or a bottle of our very best IPA and catching up on what we missed during the day and rant at the people on the screen who cannot hear an inch of what we are saying. This is one of those times. 

What are we criticising?

New week, new things to criticise! And you know we love nothing more than doing this. We will be seeing how the Labour Party and Nationalist Party kicked off the second week of the campaign trail. 

What do we know so far?

Last week in politics was tumultuous to say the least. Today however:

  • President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the European Union to grant Ukraine speedy membership to join the Community. 
  • Grech and Abela hold party press conferences and face journalist questions. 
  • Abela confirms that Ukrainian nationals will be arriving in Malta to receive oncology healthcare and faces criticism on other issues related to the Ukrainian crisis. 
  • Sundays are for Surveys: Different surveys giving different projections, Abela still in the lead. 

Abela continues on the proposal train

We start today’s criticism by going to the Labour Party Headquarters. Same backdrop and aesthetics, different colour scheme- but you know us, we appreciate the occasional change. Today’s focus seems to be on the quality of life and family. Abela hints at changes which he will bring about if elected for another term. And there we go, Invitro Fertilisation (also known as IVF), we are guessing today’s tangent is inclusive methods of reproduction technologies for everyone. Abela hints that a newly elected Labour Government will amend the current IVF Laws and introduce new services which will see more modern IVF technologies. And it looks like that is not all, IVF services will be widened, in order to include those who wish to conceive more than one child. 

Children’s allowance, according to Abela, will see an increase of €90 per year for five years and there will be an increase of €5 in bonuses for adoptions and new births. Childcare will also be extended for every child, immaterial of the parents’ employment status. Finally, some regard for the arts and sports- parents will be given a tax credit to incentivise their children’s participation in extracurricular activities. Oh, this should be interesting, secondary students will be given a laptop to use for the rest of their secondary education. We cannot but admit, this takes us back to 2013, even more so when the Prime Minister mentioned the extension of the One Tablet per Child scheme, which, under a Labour Government, will see it being extended to Secondary Education students. This is refreshing- we are trying to not go on a rant here, but finally, a proposal which will see students choose from a selection of books and literature so that they can conserve a mini library. While we are yet to know more of the specifics, it’s about time someone did something like this. 

On further sanctions regarding the ongoing onslaught in Ukraine, Abela, after communication with Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, confirmed that there will be further sanctions in the coming days. Somewhat of an answer, let’s see how this will materialise in the coming days. On a set of questions pertaining to a set of deals, Abela categorically denied any involvement and affirmed that the Government will not publish a list of persons of concern which are named from the Citizenship by Investment Scheme. He further added that the majority of the influx of applications are rejected on the basis that they have failed the required due diligence checks necessary for a successful application. Abela further maintained his point against discriminating citizens on the basis of their Russian nationality. 

On the umbrella of reforms pertaining to IVF, Abela maintained that other reproductive methods and technology, such as surrogacy, are separate and distinct from today’s proposals, however acknowledged that while there is a smaller pool of potential candidates which would classify for surrogacy, their realities will not be discarded, but remained shaky on the bioethics of surrogacy. On further drug legalisation, more specifically on the legalisation of psychedelics, Abela said that no discussion has yet been done on the subject.  

Today’s ranking

Today’s proposals compliment the social justice streak of the proposals put forward by the Labour Government and incentivise one and one’s children to go forward- which is exactly what is needed for the future generations. Today’s proposals are strikingly imperative and take into consideration various factors which are imperative for the development of future consideration. Although Abela did not give the answers which some might have desired, he had an answer for every question imposed on him and his conduct in doing so, has improved. Yesterday’s Sunday surveys, although promising for Labour Party voters, should serve as a reminder for the Labour Party not to get too comfortable. While at the start of the campaign, the Labour Party proved to be more than ready, it needs to keep up its rigour if it wishes to win the general election with full confidence. Food for thought. 

 

Solid Answers: 7

Pragmatism: 8

Clearly spoken: 8

Presentation: 9

Grech upgrades the setting 

Today, we start by seeing what the Nationalist Party has to offer. Seemingly, we head to the Nationalist Party headquarters today. Well, the audio is not today’s winner, but the Nationalist Party has upgraded their setting, to a more aesthetically pleasing and minimalist backdrop. Quite a start for Grech’s week, we must admit! Grech opens his speech by giving testament to the Nationalist Party’s go at social aims and reforms. He starts by addressing how the Nationalist Party will address and handle social issues, such as quality of life and pensioners. Oh, and here is our first proposal- a new mechanism which will measure wealth in Malta and a modernisation of Malta’s current taxation regime. How will he do this? Grech claims that the focus will be aimed at capital gains and the reduction of discretionary spending which, in his view, believes could be capped.

This is a new one- Grech claims that businesses who conform with ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) factors will benefit from a reduction in tax, more specifically, 15% on the first €500,000 of profit. He did not exactly explain ESG as we’d expected- so for those asking, ESG are measured factors that are taken into consideration in a business’s day-to-day activities- these can ultimately affect the reputation of a business, so we hope the Nationalist Party has a plan for this. 

And another one- this time a benefit for unemployed workers till they find employment again. Interesting. And benefits for workers and self-employed workers who need to take a break from work to attend to a serious illness and provide them therapy. Good streak for mental health causes- but we are wondering how this will work. For example, will workers get coverage for medical expenses? 

Now we go on sustainable development- Grech will seek to protect current open spaces and form an alliance with those who have environmental conservation to heart, although we are not really sure what he means because he does not go into much detail, rather that one’s political ideology is immaterial to the cause as long as the environment is a priority and that past mistakes are never repeated, immaterial of the administration. A Nationalist Party administration will also see a conversion of  50,000m2 of public land which will be converted into an outside development zone (ODZ, which apparently will start from the Labour Headquarters).

Ah, now we discuss congestion and transport- this should be interesting. Grech discusses vehicles powered by fuel and anyone who does away with an old vehicle, will receive a grant of €10,000 over a period of 10 years (that is €1,000 a year). But there’s a catch. If you surrender your vehicle, you cannot purchase another vehicle in that 10-year period. Another proposal? Grech will see that a Nationalist Party Government will give an income tax revision of up to €3000 to homeowners who make revisions and works to their house which contribute to climate change mitigation and sustainability. This amount can go up to €6000 if there are people who are pensioners and/or persons with a disability in the household. Grech was also faced with a question pertaining to the prodigal sons of the Nationalist Party- Grech has no objection to welcome them back, on the conditions that they come with value and that they are willing to work for the sake of the country. Sounds fair enough- but the prerequisite of ‘value’ still seems a little bland. Grech also maintained that he is against citizenship by investment for a cluster of Russian citizens, but said he is for the scheme as a whole if due diligence is done as required. Grech also believes that rather than discriminating between environmentalists and hunters, he is open to negotiate with both parties and maintained the result of the 2014 hunting referendum.

So, let’s rank.

Today’s ranking

In terms of proposals, today’s press conference and its aesthetics- there is somewhat of an improvement. The Nationalist Party ditched the traditional press conference setting which the Party usually takes and replenished it with a somewhat improved setting- maybe it had to take an electoral campaign to get to this realisation, but an augmentation nevertheless. Grech’s emphasis on regarding someone immaterial of political ideology does not however match up with his words when faced with questions imposed by a certain group of people. Another astonishing observation is that when asked if Grech will ditch his car, as his proposal is encouraging, he said that because his car was costly, he may do it later. Wouldn’t that render the whole point of the scheme pointless if the bidder does not implement it in practice, even if you do make use of it? I mean, would you really trust a telemarketing promoter, trying to sell a product only to admit that he will not use that same product or find it useful, at all?

Another issue, while it is admirable that Grech is taking on ESG Factors in the Party Manifesto, he does not exactly define the parameters or give any sort of guidance about these criteria. He does not exactly define these aforesaid parameters, rather, his visualisation of an alliance. 

Solid Answers: 7
Pragmatism: 7.5
Clearly spoken: 6
Presentation: 8 

From today’s press conferences, both have done their bidding. However, an observation we noticed is that the one thing both parties are prioritising is clearly, the environment. This may be perhaps the impetus of this whole election. A race to lead, but also a race to pick the better gatekeeper for the environment and who will be better at going green. Like the relevant majority of proposals however, only time and action can be the ultimate truth tellers. 

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