Firework enthusiasts are to have transportation costs subsidised using money raised by the sale of Maltese passports. 

The initiative, announced by Citizenship parliamentary secretary Alex Muscat on Tuesday, comes after the Nationalist Party said that enthusiasts were disheartened by an increase in transportation tariffs, which was discouraging pyrotechnic and feast enthusiasts from practising their pastime.  

A Home Affairs Ministry spokesperson told Times of Malta that costs had risen following "administrative changes" to the police force, which provides off-duty officers to pyrotechnic clubs to transport fireworks.

Officers transporting fireworks would now be hired for a minimum of three hours, they would receive additional pay when working on Sundays and public holidays and the police would be charging customers for all equipment requested, the spokesperson said. 

Writing on Facebook, parliamentary secretary Alex Muscat said he wanted to use funds raised through the Individual Investment Programme to subsidise those additional expenses. 

“After speaking to several pyrotechnics experts, I realised that the increase in security costs is a necessity. When it comes to security, there should be no compromises and therefore I intend to use the wealth generated from the Citizenship scheme programme to help our communities by reducing these costs," he said.

Muscat said that the initiative would be announced with Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri in the days to come.  

No information was provided about how much transportation costs have increased. 

Band clubs see a drop in funds due to pandemic

The secretary general of the Għaqda Nazzjonali Kazini tal-Banda told Times of Malta that a number of members of band clubs and enthusiasts had complained about the increase in charges. 

“Many are concerned if the charges remain high that they will not be able to afford it, especially since there were no activities last year due to the pandemic, therefore many clubs have seen a drop in funding.”

Earlier the Nationalist Party statement, signed by MP Edwin Vassallo, stated that the increase in payment is leading to such enthusiasts to complain about the increase in charges and could lead to a "deadly blow" of such celebrations.

“Such NGOs and volunteers already spend hundreds on the price of insurance, to rent a fire truck and having police presence, and it is not easy for these clubs to pay for such costs. Now with the increase, it will only make it more difficult, with some considering to not organise such activities,” he told Times of Malta.

He said that it is not due to the police, who are doing their job correctly, but that the government did not consider the impact that such an increase will have on enthusiasts.

“They did not consider the impact, that it is too much for such kazini and organisers.”

Later in a Facebook post, Vassallo congratulated the minister for the initiative but that if he was more careful the problem would not have grown so much. “If this was dealt with back in October, when I first mentioned it, not all this would have happened. I now look forward to the incentive package.”

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