The Curia’s Justice and Peace Commission has issued a statement on the upcoming Budget 2019, outlining its proposals, and stating that the financial prosperity currently experienced should translate into a better quality of life for all.
The Commission presented recommendations in relation to five major focus areas: transport, environment, health, affordable housing and migration.
The Commission said that “more long-term solutions rather than quick fixes are needed”, including improving Malta’s infrastructure to allow public transport, carpooling, walking and cycling, to truly become valid alternatives to private vehicles. “Implementing the Malta Transport Strategy 2050 and the Malta Transport Master Plan for 2025 is also encouraged. Alternative solutions such as teleworking could also be considered.”
The Justice and Peace Commission suggested the establishment of a Circular Economy model, which could be applied to the local scenario is necessary. “Authorities are to work for a cleaner island through the introduction of greener areas. Moreover, forward planning for efficient land-use and the protection of our environmental heritage should also be ensured.”
The Commission said that the problem of obesity must also be tackled with concrete actions such as increased physical activity in schools, the introduction of measures to limit unhealthy food, and incentives to walk and/or cycle. “Resources should be directed towards mental healthcare to provide quality services to both patients as well as their family members or carers.”
In order to alleviate some of the financial burdens incurred for housing, the Commission suggested that Government should look into different schemes, such as (i) a shared ownership housing scheme (ii) a government mortgage guarantee and (iii) a deduction of the loan interest from taxes. “The Commission awaits the publication of the rental market white paper, hoping it will include various solutions.”
The Commission recommended that a legal advice office be set up to provide third-country nationals with information about their rights and obligations. It also suggested that local legislation should be amended to include effective protection of migrant workers who report abuse, and encouraged integration programmes. “In terms of asylum seekers and refugees, the Commission renews its plea to respect the humanity of these individuals. The Government should invest in the Initial Reception Centre where such individuals are first welcomed. Further efforts should be invested in the family reunification of such individuals, both recognised refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.”
The Commission concluded with the words of Pope Francis, stating that “a technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress.”