Labour’s white elephant
This electoral campaign kicked off with a high level of expectation as voters waited for Labour to reveal a much promised and long awaited energy plan. Joseph Muscat did not disappoint and, straight into the second day of a nine-week long campaign presented to the media Labour’s proposal for a plan to reduce energy tariffs.
The Labour Party commissioned a group of consultants to come up with a feasibility report for Malta’s energy future and happily presented the outcome of this professional study.
Now much has been said and written about these blessed electricity bills, so it was no wonder that every Tom, Dick and Harry with absolutely no background in accounting, engineering or energy production (myself included, I may add) would tune in to satisfy his curiosity once and for all.
The build up to this proposal has been enormous, affecting public opinion and polls and it was to be expected that people would apply scrutiny to the whole plan. To be quite honest, not a lot of technical background was necessary for us all to understand that Labour’s energy plans were about to leave us dumbfounded and disillusioned.
Muscat’s paid consultants came up with a three-tiered proposal.
Their first preference ties in with the Nationalist Party’s energy plan of a gas pipeline connecting Malta to Sicily. This link would pave the way for EU funds for the project and is seen as the most ideal viable proposal with the least environmental impact.
Their second proposal is Labour’s choice and involves the building of a new power station (€600 million) for which no EU funds would be available, the installation of gas storage tanks, purchase of specialised tankers and more. While appreciating that this is doable, a number of crucial questions about this proposal remain unanswered, namely: why should we opt to build a new power station that will generate more electricity than we actually need? Which investor would be ready to commit to the conditions imposed by Labour to fix the price for 10 years? What environmental impact will all this have on the Marsaxlokk area? What safety studies have been carried out to reassure the residents living in the area?
Such unanswered questions have raised justified concerns and have led to Muscat stating that we should stop seeking answers and leave everything in the hands of his experts! Simply unbelievable!
If Muscat is seeking to garner confidence from his voters and ride on this energy proposal all the way to Auberge de Castille, the least he can do is provide the answers we all seek.
As Labour’s billboard says, Malta belongs to all of us and all of us have the right to be involved in the decision-making process that will pave our country’s future for the next five years.
As a citizen, I am, of course, concerned about a sustainable energy plan for Malta but as a parent I anxiously seek reassurance, genuine reassurance, that such a proposal as the one being made by Labour would not result in an economic downturn for the country.
I say this also because, important as energy is and always will be, there are other essential areas that, I hope, will not be tainted by a failed energy project such as education, health and social services.
Labour seem intent on winning the next general election with this white elephant of an energy proposal but are far from convincing us all that their proposal would not put Malta at risk of seeking a financial bailout from the European Union.
Caution is the magic word here. Let us not be hasty in our choices. We have scored highly in creating jobs, improving health and education and in investing in a better life for our families.
The PN is committed to securing EU funds for a connecting gas pipeline and Muscat’s same consultants have certified this to be the best way forward.
Caroline Galea is a PN electoral candidate.