L-aħbar li George Vella, ħabib kbir, ġarrab problemi ta’ saħħa waqt żjara uffiċjali f’Bejġing ħasditni. Ħadt ir-ruħ insir naf li l-kondizzjoni tiegħu kienet taħt kontroll u li l-kura li ngħatatlu rnexxiet

L-ewwel li ħdimt mill-qrib ma’ George kien fl-1992. Dejjem ammirajt id-dehen, l-enerġija, l-intelliġenza u l-onestà tiegħu – mhux l-anqas kif meta jkollu xi ħaġa xi jgħid, jgħidha bi frankezza. Il-kontribut li baqa’ jagħti lill-governanza tal-pajjiż hu tal-aqwa siwi, miżjud mas-sehem dejjem attiv u studjat fit-tmexxija tal-politika barranija.

Nixtieqlu fejqan totali ta’ malajr biex jibqa’ jsostni l-kontribut tiegħu għall-aħjar ġid tal-gvern Laburista u ta’ Malta kollha kemm hi.

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Logħob tal-ażżard

Minn dejjem ħassejtni skomdu bl-iżvilupp fostna tal-industrija tal-ażżard minn fuq l-internet. Veru li ġabet lejna flejjes kbar u spiċċat qasam li kien qed iqalla’ flus tajba lil ħafna Maltin. Biss li nitqiesu bħala l-Atlantic City bl-internet tal-Ewropa kienet xi ħaġa li ma tantx iddoqqli. Xorta waħda, la l-industrija kienet qed trendi daqstant, ma kienx hemm alternattiva ħlief li tħabrek biex tħarisha ħalli tkompli tipprovdi l-impjiegi u l-qligħ.

Matul is-snin, waqt li s-settur kiber sew, ftit li xejn kienet tingħata statistika dwar il-firxa tiegħu. Spiċċa jlaħħaq mat-tnax fil-mija jekk mhux aktar tad-daqs tal-ekonomija Maltija kollha. Sadattant, oqsma hekk imsejħa tradizzjonali, bħall-manifattura u l-biedja u s-sajd kienet qed jiċkienu u jiċkienu.

L-aħħar rapporti dwar il-penetrazzjoni ta’ soċjetajiet sigrieti kriminali Taljani fil-qasam tal-ażżard Malti huma nkwetanti. Ma nistgħux nidhru li aħna, jew li nkunu, fjakki fil-mod kif inħarsu s-settur tal-ażżard milli jjintuża bħala għodda tal-kriminalità internazzjonali. Lanqas irridu ninsew li probabilment din għandha sistemi ta’ tmexxija ħafna aktar sofistikati minn tagħna.

Hu minn dan li jqumu dilemmi kbar.

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Xogħlijiet fl-aqwa tas-sajf

Jidher li l-affarijiet ftit inbidlu. Xogħlijiet pubbliċi qed isiru fl-aqwa tas-sajf f’żoni fejn l-aktar jaqa’ t-traffiku.

U r-raġunijiet għaliex dan qed jiġri baqgħu l-istess ukoll. Fuq kollox għax ix-xogħlijiet jaqgħu lura, bħal pereżempju meta jinstabu fdalijiet arkeoloġiċi li jkunu jridu jiġu mħarsa. Waqt li skadenzi għall-pagamenti mill-Unjoni Ewropea dwar proġetti approvati minnha, jibqgħu marbuta ma’ dati fissi li jkunu waslu biex jagħlqu. Allura x-xogħol irid jibqa’ għaddej akkost ta’ kollox.

Mhix konsolazzjoni li tgħid li d-dewmien f’xogħlijiet pubbliċi kbar iseħħ kullimkien; bħal fi Brussell, fejn il-ħidma fl-istazzjon tal-metro Schumann, pereżempju, ilhom is-snin għaddejja.

Il-Maltin tagħhom jaraw, bir-raġun. Fin-nofs hemm involuti mhux biss dewmien u inkonvenjenza, imma wkoll telf ta’ flus għall-ekonomija; hu telf moħbi imma hemm jinsab.

 

English Version – George Vella

It was disquieting to learn that George Vella, a good friend, had experienced health problems while on an official visit to Bejging. I was relieved at the news that his condition was under control and that the treatment he had been given was successful.

It was in 1992 that I first worked at close quarters with George. I always admired his wisdom, energy, intelligence and honesty – not least his ability to say what he had to say quite openly. He continued to give a high calibre contribution to the governance of the country in addition to active and thoughtful inputs in the running of foreign policy.

I wish him a speedy and total recovery so that he can maintain his participation in public affairs in the best interests of the Labour administration and of Malta as a whole.

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Gaming

I always felt uncomfortable with the development of internet gaming here. It’s true that the industry brought many funds in our direction and became a sector that made good money for many Maltese citizens. However I was not too happy at Malta getting the reputation of having become the internet Atlantic City of Europe. Still, since the industry had become so lucrative, there was little alternative except that of working to sustain it as it continued to provide jobs and profits.

Over the years, while the sector grew, little data would be given about its importance. Eventually it reached twelve per cent if not more of Malta’s GDP. Meanwhile, so-called traditional sectors, like manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries declined.

The latest reports about the penetration of secret criminal societies from Italy in the Maltese gaming sector are disturbing. We cannot appear to be, or be, weak in the ways by which we prevent gaming from becoming a tool of international crime. Nor can we forget that probably international criminal syndicates have operating systems that are much more sophisticated than ours.

Which gives rise to serious dilemmas.

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Public works in midsummer

Things have hardly changed apparently. Public works are being carried out in midsummer in places where road traffic concentrates.

The reasons why this happens remain unchanged too. Primarily because road works fall behind schedule, like for instance when archaeological remains are discovered and must be protected. Meanwhile the schedules for payment by the European Union for projects which they have approved remain tied to fixed dates that are approaching. So works must go on at all costs.

It’s no consolation to say that delays in major public works happen everywhere, as in Brussels where the works to “improve” the Schumann metro station have dragged on for years.

Quite rightly, Maltese drivers and passengers are concerned about the problems they face. At stake, beyond the delays and the inconvenience that are caused, there is a hidden but real cost to the economy.