It happens every year like heartburn after too much roast goose. We wallow in the afterglow of our own generosity, smug with satisfaction at the millions raised at l-Istrina for the Community Chest Fund to be able to compensate for the shortfall in State responsibilities.
Let us assume €7 million are enough to bridge those gaps. No doubt it isn’t, but let’s. After all it is reasonable to do so considering how happy everyone is with the targets achieved.
An extra €7 million can be raised by the government in tax by batting an eyelid.
In 2019 the government is expecting to raise €1,869 million from income tax alone. If you add social security and indirect taxation to that, the government is expected to raise €4,571 million next year.
That’s apart from the non-tax revenue from fees, interests, rents and so on.
What’s another €7 million to fund the expenses the Community Chest Fund covers?
You’d ask what’s wrong with charity? Nothing, except that charity is a form of compensation for failure of the State. And yet here it has become a State institution.
Social justice demands that those who can contribute a greater share of the burden of helping those in need are made to do so independently of the warmth of their hearts or expectation of applause.
Let me illustrate my point.
Next year the government expects to collect over €32 million in revenue from renting out public property and public land.
Famously one of its tenants is the DB Group that famously is paying near bugger all for the former ITS site in St George’s Bay. On that site they are building a megalopolis that will make the owners of that Group blinding amounts of money.
Yesterday the DB Group went to l-Istrina and they made out a cheque of €50,000 which on the scale of l-Istrina is a big amount. It gets a lot of happy clapping and people moved to tears at the generosity of the benefactors.
On the scale of the DB Group it’s barely a blip in the PR budget. It’s an unguent labelled ‘Community Social Responsibility’ in a box on the top shelf of someone’s office where the environmental, health and quality of life costs of the entire neighbourhood of their St George’s property is also placed.
A proper levy for the rent for the use of public land would have raised far more than €50,000.
And using that land for social housing instead of a tower which the gazillionaires of the Gulf or oligarchs from Russia will share between them would have obviated the need of the funds as it would have given a home to the miserable people who depend on handouts from Malta’s President to be able to pay for a new tumble dryer.
Shocking? Where is it written that gazillionaires from the Gulf or oligarchs from Russia have a better right to a sea view than the poor forgotten in our inner city alleyways? Or have we forgotten who the money was raised for?