9 JANUARY 2002
By Marika Azzopardi
When asked by The Malta Financial & Business Times if he had resigned because of a clash with Finance Minister John Dalli, Mr Galdes Chairman fo the Welfare Commission answered:
"There are no personal clashes at all. My resignation is not linked to any of this, it is of a personal nature. I enjoy being involved in various activities and that is why I am involved in the Commission. At this point however I have decided to present my resignation from the post of chairman. It is understandable that I should be asked to re-consider this and I plan to give my definite reply to this request by next week.
"Everybody can form an opinion on what has happened regarding the Ministers proposals and our work. I have my opinion, others have theirs. The facts are that government had set up the commission for the purpose of finding a viable system for reform."
Asked whether government could have been irked by the delay in the commissions presentation of a final report, Mr Galdes explained the situation, "When I presented my preliminary report to the members of the commission back in October, a number of discussions and arguments had arisen.
"There were amongst others, the proposed pensions reforms. Therefore I had requested that each representative submit a report with feedback. A few of these members sent in their report, others failed to do so. I could not present a finalised and full report without having received all members reports. Moreover our report was based on a World Bank econometric model which was based on many factors such as the estimated amount of pensioners on our Islands in the near and distant future. It was not simply a matter of reporting feedback, one had to see the full context and come up with practical alternatives to proposals made."
Mr Galdes complained of the fact that he was unsure whether certain representatives of the various members within the commission, were objecting to proposals because of personal opinions or whether their opinions were actually those of the bodies they were representing.
"My one aim is to see that everything is done properly and meticulously. Apart from that, I would like to repeat that my decision to step down from this role is purely a personal decision."
The National Welfare Reform Commission is made up of representatives of four ministries, the Attorney Generals office and several constituted bodies. The opposition failed to place a representative on this commission. Should Galdes insist on his own resignation, there is still no indication of a possible successor for the post.