Monday, October 17, 2005

AD Energy Policy 6-Point-Plan (DES)

Category: Design
Subject: Energy Policy/Environment/Economy
Proposer: Alternattiva Demokratika

Greens call for energy policy

Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Harry Vassallo called on Investments Minister Austin Gatt yesterday to form a cross party coalition for the country to draw up a sensible energy policy with which Malta can face the energy crisis, both in the immediate future and the years to come.

Speaking during a press conference outside the offices of the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development in Floriana, Dr Vassallo said Malta needs a comprehensive energy strategy in order to tackle the crisis in oil prices. AD’s proposals were then presented to the MCESD.

While it is inevitable that fuel and electricity prices reflect the real cost of providing energy, at least in the short term, counter measures are needed. The proposals include measures for alternative methods of raising the required Lm50 million for the next three years, by which time a full energy strategy for the Maltese Islands will have been drawn up.

Dr Vassallo said the party is insisting that an energy plan, with substantial provisions for the exploitation of clean and alternative energy sources, is drawn up. “We continue to pledge our full commitment to such an initiative as well as the expertise of the European Greens. We are disappointed that the only alternatives presented by the government are a mix of increases in fuel prices and electricity prices. More creativity is needed,” he said.

AD spokesman on the economy Edward Fenech said the party is proposing six measures which would mitigate the increase in the price of oil without having to excessively burden the country’s citizens.

AD was proposing a one-time extraordinary increase in income tax on commercial banks and other financial institutions from 35 per cent to 45 per cent in 2006. Party calculations show that this measure will raise Lm5 million in one year.

Its second proposal is that the opening of the Mater Dei Hospital should be put back by another two years, opening in 2009 rather than in 2007. By taking this action, the party said, the remaining capital expenditure will be spread over four years rather than two.

Mr Fenech said the government, through the Enemalta Corporation, should make a concerted effort to clamp down on electricity and water theft with targets of “saving” Lm5 million in year one, Lm7.5 million in year two and Lm10 million in the third year. This has to be done along with an internal cost-saving campaign.

AD also proposed that the government should shoulder Lm5 million of the increased fuel bill every year for the next three years.

Moreover, Mr Fenech said, the party believes there should be an increase in the price of fuel of four cents per litre in 2006, rising to 5c5 in 2007 and 7c5 in 2008. An additional 1c per litre is being proposed in order to subsidise the fuel cost of the public bus service to avoid the necessity to increase the current fares.Mr Fenech said this measure is being proposed on the assumption that the government embarks on a full reform of public transport in order to offer a quality transport alternative to the public, other than private transportation. This measure is expected to raise Lm15 million in year one, Lm17.5 million in year two and Lm22 million in year three.

Finally, AD proposed an increase in the electricity surcharge from 17 per cent to 25 per cent in year one and two and with an eventual increase of 30 per cent in year three. This measure will raise Lm5 million in years one and two and Lm7.5 million in the third year. The existing measures to exempt the needy from electricity charges as well as to keep charges low for other low-income sectors are to be retained, said Mr Fenech.

The Malta Independent
AD's Proposals described in full

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