Snin twal ilu, il-gvern Nazzjonalista ried jiżviluppa s-servizzi finanzjarji. Jien kont wieħed mix-xettiċi. Bżajt li dan kien se jibdel lil Malta f’ċentru tal-ħasil tal-flus. Assigurawni li mhux se jiġri hekk. Il-gvern Nazzjonalista kellu jdaħħal regolamentazzjoni stretta u trasparenti. Ħtieġlu l-koperazzjoni tal-Oppożizzjoni Laburista biex jibni qafas legali ġenwin u serju. Ħallejthom jikkonvinċuni.
Is-servizzi finanzjarji kibru qatigħ. Saru jammontaw għal kważi 20 fil-mija tal-ekonomija. Fuqhom jitrikkbu s-servizzi tal-imħatri bl-internet li jlaħħaq mal-10 fil-mija tal-ekonomija. Tajjeb jew ħażin, it-tnejn saru mutur ewlieni fit-tkabbir ekonomiku tagħna.
Mill-Oppożizzjoni llum, il-PN – jew parti minnu li donnha tqis li tilfet kull ċans li terġa’ lura fit-tmexxija, ikun min ikun fil-gvern – fetaħ attakk liema bħalu fuq is-servizzi finanzjarji f’Malta. Qed ipinġihom bħala mod kif il-gvern preżenti mhux ħlief jikkommetti abbużi.
Il-ħsara li qed issir hi tremenda. Wara snin ta’ awsterità maqbula bejn kulħadd, dil-ħsara qed tinfirex fuq ix-xewqa tal-politikanti Ewropej biex jidhru li tassew qed jiddefendu l-interess komuni. Il-pajjiżi li jipprovdu servizzi finanzjarji qed jitqiesu bħala l-kollaboraturi ta’ sinjuri u kumpaniji kbar li kull ma jridu jagħmlu hu li jevitaw li jħallsu t-taxxi.
NAZZJONALITÀ DOPPJA
Għamilna s-snin intellgħu u nniżżlu għandniex indaħħlu ċ-ċittadinanza doppja għall-emigranti Maltin fl-Awstralja. Bħalissa hemm faċilità sħiħa biex il-Maltin tal-ewwel u tat-tieni ġenerazzjoni, jkollhom nazzjonalità doppja.
Matul is-snin li fih inżamm id-dibattitu għandniex nagħmlu hekk jew le, nammetti: ma kontx naf li l-liġi federali Awstraljana tipprojbixxi lil min ikollu ċittadinanza doppja li jieħu kariga parlamentari elettiva. Dil-ħaġa qed toħloq kriżi politika fl-Awstralja bħalissa.
Jiġifieri, meta qbilna li nwessgħu ċ-ċittadinanza doppja Maltija lejn id-dixxendenti emigranti Maltin, konna wkoll qed nimpedulhom li xi darba jew oħra jilħqu għall-aqwa karigi politiċi fl-Awstralja.
OXFAM
Kelli ħanut tal-Oxfam favorit tiegħi fi Brussell fejn stajt tqatta ftit tal-ħin tgħarrex – fil-każ tiegħi – għal kotba qodma. Oħrajn kienu jiġu jfittxu ħwejjeġ u żraben użati u patafjun rimiżolji oħra. Għax bil-maqlub tal-ħwienet Oxfam l-oħra fil-Belġju, dal-ħanut “tiegħi” xejn ma kien pulit u ordnat; mudlam, b’kollox imħarbat jew kważi, kotba u ġugarelli qodma u żraben f’ħallata ballata – kwalitajiet li kienu jagħtuh il-faxxinu tiegħu. Il-ħwienet l-oħra tal-Oxfam fil-Belġju ssibhom imdawla, irranġati b’galbu monotonu, b’kotba hemm, ħwejjeġ imdendla hawn u dekorazzjonijiet tad-dar post ieħor.
Xi ħadd iddeċieda li l-Oxfam “tiegħi” mhux sura. Ingħalaq għas-sajf, ingħata dehra ġdida u reġa nfetaħ ftit ilu. Mort nara kif sar.
Sibtu pulit, ordnat, imdawwal, bħall-Oxfam l-oħra li tara fil-bliet Belġjani. Ma naħsibx li se mmur aktar.

English Version – Financial services

Many moons ago, the PN government wished to develop financial services as a sector of economic activity in Malta. I was among the sceptics fearing that such a development would transform Malta into a money laundering centre. I was assured this would not happen. The Nationalist government intended to put in place a strict and transparent regulatory system. It needed the cooperation of the Labour Opposition to really build a genuine and robust legal framework. I let myself be convinced.

Financial services prospered extremely well since then. They now account for some 20 per cent of the economy, on which also piggybacks the internet gaming sector, which covers over 10 per cent of the economy. For good or for bad, between them the two sectors have become the prime engine of our growth.

From the Opposition today, the PN – or at least that part of it which considers it has lost all chance to run the country again in the future, no matter who is in government – has mobilised to attack financial services in Malta. They’re being described as a method that helps the present government commit abuses right across the line.

Tremendous damage is being done. Following years of austerity measures that were underwritten by all sides, it results from the urge of European politicians to show that they truly are defending the public interest. Countries which provide financial services are being portrayed as the collaborators of wealthy citizens and big companies who/which simply desire to not pay their tax dues.

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Dual nationality

For many years, we toed and froed over the question as to how and why we should introduce dual nationality for Maltese emigrants in Australia. Today, there is a free access for Maltese of the first and second generations to opt for dual nationality.

During those years of debate over the question as to whether we should introduce it or not, I admit I did not know that federal Australian law prohibits people with dual citizenship from assuming an elective parliamentary role. This prohibition is at present fuelling a political crisis in Australia.

So it seems that when we were extending dual citizenship to the descendants of Maltese emigrants there, we were also impeding them from at any time acceding to the major political positions in the country.

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Oxfam

The Oxfam shop I liked best in Brussels was one where you could spend time hunting for old books – that at least was my aim going there. Others would visit to look for used clothes and shoes plus a whole range of bric à brac. By contrast with other Oxfam shops in Belgium, this shop of “mine” was less than chic and disorganised. It was badly lit, with all items on sale jumbled up or quite, while books, old toys and shoes were squashed together. These arrangements made the shop fascinating.

Someone decided that “my” Oxfam was out of line. It was closed over the summer, given a makeover and reopened recently. I went to see what had been done with it.

I found it had become bright, well ordered, spick and span, like other Oxfam shops you see in Belgian towns. I don’t think I’ll visit any more.