Labour's position on pension's reform is irresponsible; our future, the young people of Malta, does not feature anywhere.
We deserve much better, definitely much better than a four page-statement on an issue that is of utmost importance and which all countries have put atop of their list of priorities.
Labour has procrastinated for over a decade and when it finally broke its deafening silence it said nothing. We, the young people of Malta, deserve much better. Retirement age may look very distant for us, and it is, however, if no action is taken now we will suffer the consequences later.
Everyone understands the pressing need for reform, everyone, that is, except for Labour. Unbelievable! Labour leader Alfred Sant has said that no crisis appears likely before the years 2025 and 2030. Precisely why he should take action now, for our benefit, as it is then that we will be approaching retirement age and it is then that we will suffer today's inaction.
As expected, raising the retirement age to 65 will be strongly resisted by Labour. However, a report drawn up under the Labour government, headed by Dr Sant, and entitled New Initiatives & Projects Group Report - October 1997 (page 18), had highlighted the urgent need for reform.
I quote: "Welfare gap needs to be brought under control on a 10-year time scale, as this would otherwise continue to worsen the country's financial position", and, "In line with bringing the welfare gap under control, serious consideration must be given to moving the pensionable age up to 65 years".
Now, with a general election in two years' time, Labour will oppose raising the retirement age to 65. This is seen by Labour as a golden opportunity to win votes knowing that this will be an unpopular, albeit necessary measure. Each and every European country is raising the retirement age now that people are living longer. Not in Malta, because for some, there are elections to be won. Why worry about our future, why care?
Labour has only come up with a timetable of consultations to start in 2009, accompanied with a national congress and yet another White Paper.
No proposals, no concrete measure how it actually intends to make the system sustainable. What a waste of time! We have been discussing this issue for over a decade; numerous entities, not least youth organizations, have put forward their suggestions, and Labour was sitting pretty all along.
One would have expected Labour to come up with a detailed study after all these years. A couple of months ago it appointed one of its MPs, Karl Chircop, to come up with a study. That Dr Chircop has only managed to produce a four-page statement that says nothing is indeed worrying. I thought Dr Chircop would submit something much better. He disappointed me and my generation.
If he has been helped by "experts", then it makes it even worse. God forbids that they ever get the chance of giving a helping hand should Labour ever make it to office!
It is even more worrying knowing that this four-page statement has also been adopted by the Labour Party executive and parliamentary group. It has gone through the party's highest structures and no one has had the decency to object; as far as we know that is. Has the Labour Youth Forum been consulted? Can we know what their position is? Do they care about their future and the future of fellow youths? Have they consulted their members? I look forward to their reply.
Now is the time for every serious organisation to stand up and be counted. Labour's position is unacceptable and should be condemned by all.
We, the younger generation, deserve much, much better than a meagre four-page document that says nothing and which the Labour leader himself has described as a note.
We care about our future, and how!