The armchair critic | The show must go on

When a general election is announced, modern day campaigning in Malta looks like press conferences and an abundance of proposals and questions. For some of us, we indulge in nothing more than watching these events unfold 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 Labour Party’s press conference addressed the newly-replenished First-Time Buyer Scheme and the Nationalist Party’s take on proposals aiming at the health sector and the island of Gozo. 

What do we know so far?

  • The question on everyone’s mind is when we will be graced with a debate on national television or a news portal between Robert Abela and Bernard Grech. 
  • The electoral programme is finalised from the Nationalist Party’s end and the Labour Party’s manifesto is finalised and will see the light of day very soon. 

Abela builds upon the first-time buyer scheme

By now we probably know what to expect from a Labour Party press conference. Infographics, colour schemes and attention to detail, and palatable information which does not miss a detail in the announcement of these proposals. This inevitably speaks for itself. Today’s press conference, however, sees some new faces, which is refreshing for anyone watching. The focus of today’s conference is mainly on the first-time buyers’ scheme, a scheme initiated by the previous Labour administration. 

Prime Minister Robert Abela opens the conference once again, making his sentiments on buying a property for the first time as aspirational. If trusted to govern, the scheme will be replenished to include a grant of €1000 to first time buyers as a payment to a loan received to buy the property. The scheme will see a direct help of a total of €10,000 over a period of 10 years. 

The scheme is aimed at persons who wish to buy their first property or have already purchased their first property, provided that the purchase was made after the 1st of January 2022. The first year of the scheme will see an accumulated cost of €3.8 million and €57 million at the end of the legislature. Abela further explains who specifically qualifies for this scheme and claims that there will be no means-testing attached to the scheme. The only requisites thus, are a person must be buying a property for the first time, and that one must be buying a residential property, coupled with a bank loan. It is to be said that this proposal does not discriminate in it’s applicability, for it applies to the above qualifications, immaterial of relationship status. 

Abela makes it a point to say that it is the State’s duty to ensure and sustain any difficulty which one may come across in the challenging course of buying a property for the first time. He further seems to introduce a new tweak which compliments the scheme: this is aimed for people who could not manage to pay the 10% deposit which comes along in the initial promise of sale to buy a house and as a result, they could qualify for a loan, however, for whatever reason, did not manage to make to up his deposit. 

Today’s Ranking

We don’t need to comment again on the aesthetics of the set- we already believe that it works. It was refreshing to see new faces in today’s press conference. Today’s conference was inevitably targeted at those who aspire to someday, hold the keys to a property and call a place home. While we think this was maintained, the focus on the mathematics behind it was key in the behind the scenes planning of this conference. It will be interesting to see how the Labour Party will market this proposal and get the feel of real time young people, currently watching the property market with eagle eyes, who this scheme will directly affect. 

When asked about the foreseeable future of the proposed Marsascala project, Abela affirms that the controversial Marsascala Marina project will not go forth and that this decision is permanent.

Solid Answers: 8

Pragmatism: 7

Clearly spoken: 8

Presentation: 9

Grech takes on health and Gozo

Today’s press conference is opened by Claudio Grech, once hinted favourite for PN Leadership, an ex-Nationalist Party candidate who stepped aside from contesting for the upcoming general election a few days ago. Grech announces that yesterday, the Nationalist Party Executive approved the Nationalist Party’s electoral programme for the upcoming election. Grech compliments by maintaining that socio-economic considerations will be the backbone of this campaign. So far, the Nationalist Party claims that this programme will focus on 15 main themes, and today’s conference’s focus will kick start by focusing on the island of Gozo. Grech claims that the party will focus on preserving Gozo’s identity, be it for both economic and environmental preservation. Our initial observation that Opposition Leader Bernard Grech is targeting the youth proves to be correct, for Claudio Grech gives credit to the young people who have contributed to the fruition of these proposals. 

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech takes the stand after Claudio Grech and he starts by maintaining that the decision for the proposed Marsascala Marina not to go forth is owed to the pressure by the Nationalist Party and is thus, testament to its credibility to lead. Grech continues Claudio Grech’s discussion, by immediately discussing his proposals. A new administration under the Nationalist Party will see a new hospital in the island of Gozo and that current employees will be involved in the process. The reason for this proposal according to Grech is that those who need further care in Gozo, should not have to go to the main hospital in Malta to receive adequate care. The proposed new hospital would include MRI facilities and a supposed specialised outpatients department.

Grech further proposes the construction of a new MCAST campus in Gozo, citing that new courses will increase, which such courses are intended to compliment the Nationalist Party’s previously discussed plan for the creation of 10 new economic sectors. Grech reaffirms the Nationalist Party’s commitment to make accessibility between the sister islands more efficient by expanding the Mgarr Port- how this will come to fruition is yet to be seen. Grech adds that Gozo Channel will see an increase in its transport, by adding two new ships to its current fleet of ships. 

Grech closes his speech by praising his current candidates and maintaining that the Nationalist Party boasts a united front. Grech admits that while 4 veteran candidates will not contest, the Nationalist Party had approved 4 new candidates. 

Today’s Ranking

From today’s conference, Claudio Grech’s opening and his role at the press conference could be perceived that his role is now that of a political consultant to the Nationalist Party. Rather than being the politician, Grech now whispers in the politicians’ ears about policy and what to do.

While today’s conference was somewhat enticing, we couldn’t help but reminisce on Grech’s words during a discussion held yesterday by the Nationalist Party. Grech’s idealisation of a family falls short of many realistic elements. Grech visualises a family as a nuclear one, consisting of a man and woman with children, oblivious of other realistic family scenarios, such as single parents and same-sex couples. While there is nothing inherently wrong with being nostalgic about this, being oblivious to other types of familial institutions can be problematic in the long run. But the emphasis of family values is no surprise coming from the Nationalist Party. In this regard, Abela makes up for Grech on this account.

However, his approach to parenting is much more appealing than the usual conservative stance taken by his predecessors. So far, women’s rights have not been the Nationalist Party’s strong points in recent years, so it shall be interesting to see how far Grech goes, rather than discussing bread makers and breadwinners.

On the other hand, Bernard Grech took a different avenue today with his new measures and attempted to show how the discussed ‘billion euro investment proposal’ amalgamates with today’s proposals. The announcement of 4 new candidates could very well be an attempt to put a band-aid over the first kick which the Nationalist Party has sustained on the first day of its campaign, but as we know, it will take more than a simple band-aid to heal the injury. While Grech’s proposals sound idyllic, in practice, it would be interesting to see how he will lay out his game-plan to achieve these proposals if elected. 

Solid Answers: 7

Pragmatism: 6

Clearly spoken: 7

Presentation: 5

4.9 18 votes
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