SME Chamber

Government must save the Social Dialogue Society

 GRTU was, and remains, one of the promoters of the dialogue society. Many of our members suffered tremendously when the rule was for those on top to decide regardless of the views of others.

For the last fifteen years GRTU struggled to ensure that what was the
Pacman, consisting only of a team of Government bureaucrats and
politicians working on Malta's negotiation and acquis communautaire
adoption task force, was transformed into MEUSAC, the Malta EU Steering
Action Committee. MUESAC involved not only the government and larger
social partners but also all organised constituted bodies, trade
unions, trade sector organisation and civil society.

GRTU Director General, Vincent Farrugia, was a pillar of the old MEAUSAC ensuring that documents were not only drafted together with the stakeholders but also that all submissions made to the EU carried the approval of the social partners. Nothing moved until consensus was reached.

It was to the great merit of Dr. Joe Borg, the than Foreign Minister, and Richard Cachia Caruana, the current Brussels Permanent Representative, that MEUSAC worked so well and gave excellent results. It was with satisfaction that GRTU lobbied with Government to recreate MEUSAC on the same principles and procedures of the old one to ensure today that EU documentation and position papers carry the approval of the social partners.

The Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) is also supposed to be working on these same lines but unfortunately this is not done. MCESD has become a piazza where Ministers and Government experts make speeches. When guest speakers  end their delivery hardly any serious discussions take place let alone agreement on common positions.

Government, in general is doing a lot of consultations, GRTU never misses an opportunity to participate actively in all consultation processes. It is however becoming a pathetic show. The sheer disregard that some Ministers have adopted to comments, proposals, suggestions and objections raised by the private sector is seriously undermining the whole concept of Dialogue Society.

The current issue related to the tax on diesel and the electricity surcharge imposed by Government without any dialogue and without any form of agreed position with the social partners is seriously threatening the concept of the Dialogue Society. Not only are the social partners being neglected  but the media is being manipulated to prepare the public to accept the worse. People who complain are being left sounding like anti-social. The ground is being prepared by the information managers (manipulators) so that what is in fact a fait-a-complit appears like an acceptable, no option, solution.


If we take the case of the excise tax on diesel, the fact that Government wants to bury is that excise tax in Malta on diesel is too high. Taxation per litre amounts to half the price. Transporters and other operators using diesel are heavily penalised under an unacceptable tax burden  €89m a year in excise tax on fuel is simply too much. The 95% surcharge is doubly wrong; it's a burden that breaks many small businesses` backs, unless of course they find a way to dump it on the consumer. It is grossly unfair that retailers, traders and service providers are being forced either to carry the double burden themselves (as traders and as household owners) or else pass it on to the public.

All this talk about the fact that it could have been worse (115% or more!) is sheer manipulation intended only to feed the gullible.

We believe in the Dialogue Society and want it to succeed, when Ministers run rough shod regardless of the economic and social impact of their decisions they become a treat to the dialogue society. It is the duty of the Social Partners and of Civil Society to withstand this attack on the Dialogue Society.

All this talk about the fact that it could have been worse (115% or more!) is sheer manipulation intended only to feed the gullible.





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