Farmers trapped between local and EU bureaucracy

Farmers trapped between local and EU bureaucracy

Farmers, particularly from Kerċem in Gozo, are being drowned in bureaucracy to apply both for local permits, or EU funding, when it comes to maintaining their farms and making a living.

Some farmers lost their greenhouses to adverse weather years ago and still haven’t managed to fix the damage which also affects their product yield and profit margins. In fact, three men spoke to just last week about the issues that local farming has to deal with, including having to directly compete with imports.

PN MEP candidate, Peter Agius, posted on Facebook this morning after meeting Gozitan farmers to discuss possibly ways forward. He suggested that planning permits need to be facilitated, and fees eliminated for farming; as well as guaranteeing replies about European funding within 6 months.

Agius turned his attention towards the Government in his post saying that the only way for this to happen would be to have dedicated officials who consider farming a priority,rather than emphasising that “it doesn’t contribute to the Gross Domestic Product”, as Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said in his Budget 2019 speech.


Read full article on Newsbook


More on this topic:

Do we care about our Farmers? by Peter Agius

No budget for small businesses

No budget for small businesses

On Monday I was eagerly following Professor Scicluna’s speech, awaiting innovative Government proposals helping our SMEs to tap into EU opportunities. I was hoping that the Government would respond to the global digital revolution and propose ways to assist our smaller businesses in Malta to go digital faster. After all, the European Commission just announced a special fund of a whopping 9 billion euros precisely to help businesses reap the benefits of digitalisation.

I was disappointed. The proposed budget does not rise up the challenge of small businesses in Malta, facing an increasingly digitalised world and the natural market hurdles inherent in an island economy. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing outrageous in the budget per se (short of a money laundering sub-heading without a governance heading). It is rather what is not there which gets me worried. I see this budget as a series of schemes and mini measures carefully designed to please this or that other sector, but without an overall strategy for Maltese business to move forward.

As one business owner told me in a chat just after the Minister’s speech, when it comes to business this budget is a ‘A little pepper here and a little pepper there, but where is the steak?’. I had to be honest with the gentleman, there is no steak my friend. Short of two measures to help family businesses with the transfer of ownership to the next generations and the reported progress on the Maltese investment Bank, the budget speech leaves Maltese businesses waiting for more.

Let us take a closer look to demonstrate my argument. One good thing about this budget is the formalisation of Government efforts to turn Malta into a blockchain island. Blockchain technology is indeed an important vector for development of our services industry and the Nationalist Party has and will be promoting its development in Malta. The annual budgetary excercise was however an opportunity to put this development at the service of our Maltese businesses, opening blockchain potential to smaller businesses to consider for their business or marketing operations. Instead, the government’s approach is limited to attracting the investment of foreign companies into Malta and the promotion of blockchain abroad through the new initiative techMT. This is all well and good, but where’s the share of Maltese businesses in that?

Same thing goes for the promotion of start-ups. The government announced an interesting start-up Visa to attract foreign investment by promising foreign start-ups. Thumbs up for this, but how about the Maltese start-ups? How long shall they tolerate seeing foreign owned investment being boosted with reverse discrimination at their expense before they pack their bags and hear to London, Paris or Frankfurt?

This is the reality of Maltese entrepreneurs I encountered in the last months since I am campaigning for the MEP elections. We have loads of local talent in the services industry and in manufacturing. A good chunk of the people I am meeting are however telling me stories of how they feel emarginated or discouraged in their own country. This blockchain island cannot forget its children in its effort to open to the world. We can do both, and both efficiently.

Maltese businesses voted overwhelmingly for EU accession. They sensed that membership in a 500 million strong consumer market was their natural guarantee. In some regards the promise did not deliver up to expectation. Too few of our companies have extended operations abroad. We can do much better in this regard, and EU tools are there to be exploited to this effect.

In some cases we are risking putting a bad name to the EU, as in the case of the recently introduced GDPR. I met shop owners who have not sent a promotional email fearing hefty fines for breaches of data privacy. Government saw the new rules coming for the last 3 years in Brussels. It failed to raise awareness of their application in Malta.

Our businesses deserve better. They, and not government, are after all the most important driver of employment and prosperity on these blessed islands.

Read full article on the Malta Independent 

Corporate Dispatch asks Malta MEP Candidate Peter Agius: What is your opinion on the budget? How do you feel about the budget? Was it positive or negative? Why?

Corporate Dispatch asks Malta MEP Candidate Peter Agius: What is your opinion on the budget? How do you feel about the budget? Was it positive or negative? Why?

A budget as I understand it must be a government strategy detailing the direction of leadership for different sectors of society and the economy in the future, by facing challenges and seizing opportunities. In this sense, this wasn’t a budget, but a series of schemes that leave a little impact here and a little impact there. From a social perspective, the small increases announced do not cover the increase in the cost of living. Taking basic food products as an example, this increased from €5 to €10 per week for the average family. Hence, the €2.33 increase can hardly compensate.

See full article : Corporate Dispatch asks Malta MEP Candidate Peter Agius: What is your opinion on the budget?

United by a common resolve

United by a common resolve

The PN is gearing up for next year’s elections, at a time when – from the outside – it looks irreparably divided. In fact there seem to be two PNs, not one: the faction led by Adrian Delia, and an uprising spearheaded by Simon Busuttil, David Casa, Jason Azzopardi and others. You are contesting this election as a PN candidate. So… whose side are you on?

First of all, I don’t believe there are ‘two PNs’, as you put it. There are issues, there are battles that we have fought in the past; battles that we will be fighting in the future; and there are candidates who represent these different battles. The skill of the candidate has to be to represent the Maltese electorate in its entirety. You cannot disregard these realities. So from the outside, when you see the picture you’re describing, you rely on little elements, little externalisations of how people express disagreements: in a Facebook post, in an interview, in a remark here and there. The reality is that the Nationalist Party is united behind a common resolve. I wouldn’t distinguish between one camp and another…

What is this ‘common resolve’?

To be a credible, pro-positive and committed Opposition party: ready to propose alternative solutions to society’s issues today. The reality is that we are an oversized population, living in an undersized infrastructure. We have designed this country according to 1990s figures, when our population was 70,000 less than it is now. My task within the Nationalist Party – and I am committed to it 24 hours a day – is to try and make the party once again a proponent of solutions for this country. First of all, we have been an EU member state for the past 14 years. The EU has brought untold benefits and opportunities for many sectors. It gave an upgrade to this country on many levels: from our heritage, to our schools, to healthcare, etc. But there are sectors that have been neglected. Farming is one such area…

I intend to ask you about agriculture later. But on the subject of the EU: hasn’t membership also had other effects? What if I put it to you that the EU’s involvement in local politics has actually exacerbated the local partisan divide, and encouraged more tribalism than before?

That is partly true. But the reality is that the EU cannot save us from ourselves. If we have problems which we need to solve, the EU will not solve them for us. If we see politics as an exercise in tribal warfare, the EU will not change that. In some regards, the EU may have actually exacerbated this issue. But it is up to us to do something about it. I will be proposing a different kind of politics, however: a politics whereby, if the Labour government does something praiseworthy, something which is in a direction we need to go… I will be one of the first to mention it. Why not? Just last week, I congratulated Health Minister Fearne on Facebook for the initiative of promoting robotics in Mater Dei. This is the way to go.

I’ll do the same for others. Wherever there are areas where we need to support or encourage government, my narrative will not be: ‘Oh look, government is a crook’. On EFSI [European Fund for Strategic Investment], for example, we saw that Malta is at the bottom of the graph – per capita, not in absolute numbers – in the use of the Juncker Plan. As I said, this is an undersize infrastructure, for an oversized population: we badly need long-term, large-scale investment… in transport, education, healthcare, and all our public services. This is what we need to discuss. We need a vision of politics which solves the problems of this country, and takes a long-term view: planning ahead for 10, 20 years down the line…

But that’s the one thing we don’t seem to be getting from the PN right now. And it also explains why, as you said, that party suffered so heavily in the last two elections. People did not see this vision back then. Are you suggesting that they are seeing it more now?

Yes. Like I said, trust is building. With this battle-cry, ‘Socjeta Li Jimpurtah’ [A Society that Cares], we are bringing out realities which the people hold dear to their heart. Like the job market, for instance. There is now a huge risk of precarious work: not only in the private sector, but even in the public sector. Last week’s strike at Gozo Channel, for instance. Why did it happen? Because government gave out a huge number of precarious, short-term contracts, offering the illusion of ‘joining the public service’… when in reality, those people were put on the payroll of a private contractor, working side by side with people who do have a public service contract. This is not ‘equal pay for equal work’… and there is no dignity at work, either; because your colleagues will enjoy better conditions of work, and more security of tenure. As for the private sector: last week I had a meeting with UHM. They told me that their collective bargaining power is fizzling out… Why?

Because you get people coming from abroad… OK, they are entitled to compete with us for the same jobs. If they are EU nationals there is no doubt about it. If they are third country nationals, they may be needed in the short term. But if we are talking about single people, with no family, coming here for two or three years, and ready to work for 5 euros an hour… that is going to have an immediate impact on the collective bargaining power of the Maltese worker. There’s no denying this. And this is what we mean by a ‘A Society that Cares’: we are interested in the life of people… not in economic figures that register a 3%, 4%, 5% growth, which is effectively the result of an expanding job market. The job market is, in fact, expanding, in terms of absolute numbers. But the salaries, the working conditions, are not expanding. They are actually diminishing…


Raphael Vassallo

Read the full article on Malta Today 

We need to apply EU rules better’, PN candidate tells GRTU

We need to apply EU rules better’, PN candidate tells GRTU

Malta needs to apply EU rules better by planning well in advance before they enter into force, not as we are doing in the case of the GDPR, the EU Regulation on data protection, Peter Agius, PN candidate for the European Parliament election, told GRTU representatives.

Agius met the GRTU managerial board, President Paul Abela and Chief Executive Officer Abigail Mamo who explained the role of the GRTU, representing more than 7,000 Maltese businesses with a particular focus on SMEs.

See full article here




Il-Brexit irid jiftħilna għajnejna ġo Malta. Għandna bżonn alleanzi ġodda fl-Ewropa.

Il-Brexit irid jiftħilna għajnejna ġo Malta. Għandna bżonn alleanzi ġodda fl-Ewropa.

Il-Brexit irid jiftħilna għajnejna ġo Malta. Għandna bżonn alleanzi ġodda fl-Ewropa. Sound up 🔊🔊 Intervista fuq NET FM ma' Jerome Caruana Cilia

Geplaatst door Peter Agius op Vrijdag 19 oktober 2018