Words of gratitude

It is with great pleasure I write in recommendation of Raymond Xerri, consul general of the Republic of Malta to Canada, who has represented the Maltese-Canadian diaspora with a view to building relationships and encouraging participation in all aspects of national development, in a targeted effort to establish contact with members of the Maltese community in the Province of Ontario.

In spite of the pandemic, Xerri continued to reach out to the Maltese community on various aspects, such as attending seminars and gatherings, particularly in the area of diaspora studies.

There was one project that impressed me the most. Xerri established a specialised Maltese-Canadian library, with the aim of assisting Maltese-Canadian academics and students studying Maltese-Canadian diaspora history and their ancestors. With his public appeal to the Maltese community, many came forward with donations of publications to the library.

His creativity and perseverance were an important contribution to the success of all the projects and events that he worked on and, thereby, helped to raise morale and foster new diplomatic ties between Canada and Malta.

Xerri’s biography speaks volumes of him, many are sad to hear of his departure, he is an intelligent gentleman of great integrity and will be immensely missed by all of the Maltese Community in Canada.

Wishing him continued success in his endeavours, along with good health to him and his family.

Ivy Bowman, member of the Malta Band Club – Mississauga, Ontario

Necessary reforms needed

Progress in reducing red tape stalled. Photo: Shutterstock.comProgress in reducing red tape stalled. Photo: Shutterstock.com
 

Now that the elections are behind us and the government has a new mandate, it is time to press forward more than ever on reducing bureaucracy.

This should not simply be pre-electoral rhetoric but, rather, a daily mantra that the government should follow. After 2013, we had seen a considerable effort to this effect. The most noticeable results were in the Planning Authority and some divisions of Transport Malta, among others. Processes became leaner, decision makers were empowered and digitisation saw the biggest leap forward since the considerable improvements in the first decade of this century.

Nevertheless, all this somewhat stalled over the past few years. As the media rightly uncovered stories of some maladministration and abuses, the unfortunate result was that bureaucracy took a turn for the worse. Gains that were painfully made were lost as decision makers recoiled and sought the refuge of new, never-ending procedures in order to justify decisions or, even worse, not to take them. This has to stop.

The government needs to empower and give confidence once again to persons in authority to take the right decisions with the necessary checks and balances.

There also needs to be a further push on digitisation and the harnessing of new technologies. The country has invested a lot in the notion of blockchain, coining the phrase Blockchain Island. The system is serving us well in the excellent set-up for the registration of rental agreements. Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, the government seems to have lost interest in this cutting-edge concept. The message was that this had something to do with our greylisting by FATF. Surely, whoever thought so was mistaking the underlying technology with cryptocurrencies. Even in the case of the latter, the irony is some countries pointing fingers were quick to copy the Maltese trailblazing approach.

Going back to blockchain, we need to put it back on the agenda as a tool that has succeeded in reducing bureaucracy. We suggest it should next be deployed in the land registry and to digitise the systems to ascertain property titles. The present system is a remnant of the long-gone past and needs to change. There are vested interests that might resist this change but it surely remains a necessary one.

Blockchain can also pave the way for fractionalised ownership of property, which is very successful in opening opportunities to invest in real estate to many more people, as the experience of Berlin shows.

The government will find our support in these necessary reforms.

Michael Stivala, president, Malta Developers’ Association – Pietà  

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