Meta tisma’ l-aħbar, għandha togħġbok. Skont l-Eurostat, l-uffiċċju Ewropew tal-istatistika, id-dħul tal-ħaddiema f’Malta u Għawdex żdied aktar fl-aħħar żmien, mill-medja tal-pajjiżi tal-Unjoni Ewropea. Jiġifieri l-ħaddiema tagħna tejbu l-qagħda tagħhom f’paragun ma’ ħaddiema oħra.

Il-problema hi din: il-pajjiżi membri taż-żona ewro jsostnu l-kummerċ ħieles bejniethom. Għandhom l-istess munita u ma jistgħux ibiddlulha r-rata tagħha biex isiru aktar kompetittivi bejniethom.

Fl-aħħar snin instab li l-aqwa jekk mhux l-uniku mod kif l-istess pajjiżi qed jirnexxilhom iżommu l-kompetittività tagħhom hu billi jnaqqsu l-ispiża tax-xogħol. Sa issa, għamlu hekk l-aktar billi naqqsu l-impjiegi u d-dħul tal-ħaddiema. Din saret pjaga soċjali ewlenija fit-tmexxija tal-pajjiżi kollha tal-ewro.

Allaħares id-dħul tal-ħaddiema tagħna ma jkomplix jitjieb. Imma kif se nilqgħu issa għall-fatt li mqabbla ma’ “sħabna” fiż-żona ewro, se nkunu sirna anqas kompetittivi?

Dak li għandu jagħtina sodisfazzjoni kbir, jista’ jiżviluppa f’sors ta’ inkwiet mhux żgħir.

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PAYE

Għaddejja diskussjoni sħiħa fi Franza dwar riforma finanzjarja li ilha s-snin titħabbar u ma titwettaqx. Fl-aħħar il-gvern qed jgħid li se jdaħħalha sas-sena d-dieħla minkejja li hi mistennija toħloqlu diffikultajiet politiċi kbar lejliet elezzjoni presidenzjali. Ħafna qed ibassru li se jerġa’ jkun hemm posponiment ieħor.

Ir-riforma tirrigwarda l-ħlas tat-taxxa fuq id-dħul. Bħalissa fi Franza titħallas b’sena lura: dis-sena l-Franċiżi qed iħallsu t-taxxa fuq id-dħul li kellhom is-sena li għaddiet. Minflok, il-proposta hi li t-taxxa tibda titħallas fil-mument li ċ-ċittadin jirċievi l-paga jew qliegħ ieħor tiegħu – dak li aħna nafuh bħala s-sistema tal-Paye As You Earn (PAYE).

Toqgħod taħseb: dis-sistema li fi Franza għadhom jittitubaw fuqha, ilha titħaddem f’Malta mis-snin sebgħin. Aħna mdorrija nqisu lil pajjiżna bħala minn ta’ wara; imma hemm mhux m’hemmx setturi fejn ninsabu minn quddiem.

Il-fatti juru li ħafna mir-riformi iebsa li wassluna ‘l quddiem iddaħħlu minn amministrazzjonijiet Laburisti.

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Ilmenti Slimiżi

Kienet ukoll aħbar sabiħa oħra għat-turiżmu Malti dik li tliet lukandi gwappi n-naħa ta’ San Ġiljan se jitwaqqgħu biex minflok tinbena lukanda ġdid tal-aqwa klassi. Tat xhieda tal-fiduċja fis-settur turistiku Malti.

Tajjeb li jitqiesu aspetti oħra li dwarhom ftit sar kliem. Kemm se jdum għaddej ix-xogħol tal-bini? Matulu se jkun hemm tnaqqis fil-volum ta’ sodod offruti mil-lukandi Maltin?

Fuq kollox, kif se jkun kontrollat it-tniġġis tal-ibħra madwar tas-Sliema sakemm idum ix-xogħol? Niftakar l-ilmenti għal staġun wara l-ieħor, naħseb ġustifikati, tas-Slimiżi dwar it-tniġġis tal-baħar fejn jgħumu waqt il-bini ta’ Portomaso. Issa jekk kien hemm proġett ta’ kwalità kbira u magħmul bis-sens, kien dak.

 

English Version – Labour Costs

It’s news to make one feel good. According to the European statistical office Eurostat, the income of employees in Malta and Gozo has recently been increasing at a higher rate than the European average. Which means that our workers have seen their situation improve compared to that of others.

There is a problem though: euro zone member countries operate in free trade mode between them. They have the same national currency and cannot adjust its exchange rate to maximize competitiveness.

In recent years, it has been discovered that the most effective, indeed the only way by which these countries can succeed to retain their competitiveness is by cutting on jobs and the income of workers. This has become a leading social dilemma in the management of all euro countries.

God forbid that improvement in the income of our employees should be halted. But how are we now going to respond to the fact that compared to our “partners” in the euro zone, we shall have beome less competitive?

What should be giving us much satisfaction, could also become a matter of concern.

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PAYE

A wide discussion is proceeding in France regarding a financial reform that has been promised since long years without being implemented. At last, the government is proclaiming it will launch the measure as of next year, even if it is expected to create huge political problems on the eve of the next presidential elections. Many are betting that there will be further postponement.

The reform concerns how income tax is paid. At present, in France, you pay such tax a year in arrears: this year, French citizens are settling their tax dues on income earned last year. Instead, now the proposal is for the tax to be paid as soon as taxpayers receive their salary or other income – the system we know as PAYE, Pay As You Earn.

When you come to think about it: this tax system that the French are still mulling over, has been operational in Malta since the seventies of the previous century. We’re used to considering our country as underdeveloped; but there do exist sectors where we’ve been at the forefront.

Facts show that many of the tough reforms that have sped us forward were actually powered by Labour governments.

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The sorrows of Sliema

Another encouraging titbit of news for Malta’s tourism was that three prime hotels in the St Julian’s area will be levelled to make way for a new hotel of extra class status. This should give further confidence to the Maltese tourism sector.

However it makes sense to consider other aspects about which there has been less debate.

For how long will construction last? For its duration, will there be a reduction in the volume of accommodation available in Maltese hotels?

Most importantly, how is pollution of the sea around the Sliema area going to be controlled while construction proceeds? I well remember the complaints – justified in my view – which Sliema residents used to make, every summer, about the pollution caused by the Port Tomaso project in the sea where they used to swim. Now if there was a project that had high quality and was sensibly implemented, it was Port Tomaso.