13 FEBRUARY 2002

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A proposal we should not forget

There is one budgetary proposal which we think was looking to the future. It talked of splitting the national insurance contributions between pensions and health.
It is essential that this proposal does not fall through. This is the lifeline to the local welfare system.
As our population continues to age and live longer, we realise or rather some of us are coming to terms with the fact that, our welfare resources are at breaking point.
The party is over, though more than once we have been told by political columnists such as Alfred Mifsud and Leo Brincat that they can crack the equation to solve the problem.
There is only one solution and it is intrinsically linked to reforming the way we operate.
In changing this, this country will have to confront some pending issues, which are the following:
1) The pensionable age
2) Private pension schemes
3) The National Insurance contribution
4) The need to introduce a means test for any free services
5) The necessity of setting deadlines for implementation.
There are other considerations, but we must now set the targets for implementing these reforms.
Sooner rather than later it will dawn on all of us that we cannot sustain this welfare system anymore.
It will take some tough talk and some hard decision to get all this through.

The Libyan market

In the last few days, there has been much talk about investing in Libya. Libya is this big southern neighbour derided by the Americans and some Europeans too.
However as some US politicians award Libya ‘terrorist status’ and cry wolf, western companies continue to invest big monies in this country which continues to offer a wealth of opportunities.
Malta has a long relationship with the Libyan people, we have learned of ways to work with these people. We offer them our expertise, hard work and know-how.
The Libyans think highly of the Maltese.
We must venture into this market.
We must take up the challenge, before it is too late.
Already many companies are taking advantage of this market.
Let us go for it.

The cost of water

The rainy season or its complete absence has extended our dependence on our desalination plants. This will mean that the cost of producing water will be much higher this year and it follows that the costs and subsidies that have to be forked out to sustain the ailing Water services corporation will have to be sustained for an abnormally long period.
Those subsidies are completely financed by local tax payers.
There is a general reluctance for increasing tariffs and water and electricity bills, but the least that we can hope for is the introduction of more punitive measures related to water loss.
The main concern is the use of water for luxury-related habits such as car washes, watering of gardens, swimming pools and other rather non-environmentally friendly activities.
We should control them or add an extra charge to their use.



The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt