26 MARCH 2003

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2003 sees AD’s economic focus at par with environment

The 2003 general election manifesto for the Green Party shows that in its 14 years of existence, a gradual political shift from radicalism to pragmatic proposals has evolved. This is evident in the 445-proposal manifesto, pointing out an emphasis on economy and finance as much as on AD’s traditional environmental slant.
The environment remains Alternattiva Demokratika’s main concern but green issues have been put into a wider social and economic perspective.
A cursory look at the manifesto shows greater emphasis on the economy, something previously lacking in AD political discourse. ‘Quality of life’, long the focus of AD, has been meshed in with good health as well as financial stability, and a GDP gauged by social, environmental and economic factors.
Private sector
Shedding its antipathy toward private enterprise, the Green Party talks about the need to shift the emphasis from an industry that is heavily dependent on construction and development, to a more export-orientated private sector.
The problem as highlighted by the Green Party is one where the economy is based on too much speculation and construction. This, coupled with an economy heavily dependent on imports, is usurping financial credit and thus contributing towards financial instability.
The manifesto argues that the key to the problem is for the private sector to look beyond Malta’s shores. The role of government would be to assist private enterprise in this change, utilising structures such as the Institute for Promotion of Small Enterprises.
State and privatisation
AD says that resolving the balance of payments problem, which so far has resulted in a structural deficit that has dragged on for the past decade, is a crucial element in ensuring economic stability. The manifesto proposes turning Malta into an export centre of high social, economic and environmental standards.
The Green Party envisages the role of the State as that of a regulator, rather than owner, thus allowing private enterprise to flourish. It points out that certain state monopolies such as Enemalta are prime examples of environmental degradation and abuse of consumers’ rights.
To overcome this problem AD is proposing that health, education, energy production and other socially important services be administered by autonomous public agencies subject to independent regulatory authorities. Advocating liberalisation as a process that benefits consumers, AD is proposing the removal of age-old monopolies such as port workers, taxis, public transport, transport between Malta and Gozo and undertakers among others.
The party also advocates the continuation of the privatisation process, adding that a substantial part of the income derived from privatisation should go toward the restructuring of the public sector.
It is also imperative for the Green Party to have a reduced public sector with a professional management structure. No specific proposals are given on how the down sizing should take place, but retraining and the formation of workers’ co-operatives are floated as two possible options.
Fiscal policy
The manifesto also maps out AD’s fiscal policy, which proposes a revision of income tax ceilings for both single and married couples. Without saying what impact the revisions would have on government’s income, the Green Party argues that single persons should have a non-taxable ceiling of Lm4,000 (up from Lm3,000) and married persons should have a non-taxable ceiling of Lm5,000 (up from Lm4,000).
The part-time taxable limit on which a standard 15 per cent rate applies should also increase from Lm3,000 to Lm4,000. The Green Party argues that the current ceilings do not reflect today’s social realities.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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