Things will be different…next summer

You couldn’t make it up. Even the finest of comedy writers would fail to match the scriptwriter(s) employed by Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo (and many other Ministers for that matter).

Referring directly to Comino – that environmental, tourist and grubbiness disaster – he boldly proclaimed (with all the ‘gravitas’ he could muster) that the island’s problems will be ‘solved by next summer’.

Not content with this simplistic message, Bartolo went further indicating that discussions, planning, and decision making are ongoing to develop ‘a holistic and sustainable plan’ for Comino. Repeating his (and the Government’s) mantra (threat?) that Comino cannot be reduced to the Blue Lagoon, he intoned the need for ‘balance’ between money, more money and heaps of money, nature notwithstanding.

No doubt the holistic and sustainable plan the island will be based around the lessons learned in similar planning contexts in Gozo, Gzira, Sliema, Marsascala etc. As I say, you couldn’t make it up.

No surprise then that he felt inclined (compelled?) to defend Malta’s previous Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli, and her world famous mechanisms for tackling COVID-19. Interestingly Bartolo also seemed to contradict Prime Minister Robert Abela’s assertion that the desired ‘balance’ regarding Comino had already been struck. So why the need for a new plan?

Utterly hilarious if it wasn’t so deeply superficial and insulting at every possible level.

Meanwhile barely below the surface the growling engines of dodgy Comino related ‘enterprises’ (and not just deck-chairing) continue to generate yet more dosh for those in the frame. And by way of an additional two-fingered salute to all Maltese, the Malta Tourism Authority (part of Bartolo’s empire) refuses to make public key information related to such operations because they are ‘commercially sensitive’.

As they say in comedy skits ‘no shit sherlock’.

As an additional scary aside, Minister Bartolo indicated that his Ministry is working ‘hand in hand’ with the Gozo Ministry to ensure that better waste management systems are in place in Comino. Presumably that latter Ministry will make use of its own well-established and respected ‘holistic and sustainable’ planning approach to ensure best practice.

The Minister indicated that additional dimensions for the ‘Comino Management Plan’ will be announced ‘later’ as the complicated logistics are still being worked out. Yes, next year will be different…and inevitably better as the Committee tasked with improving Comino ‘pushes forward’ with the plan.

The language and the metaphors are the stuff of high comedy worthy of the best of Monty Python (‘this parrot is not dead; it is just sleeping’).

At this stage, we should all be on our knees weeping or laughing hysterically at the levels of inanity involved. And yet some people (even ‘journalists’) report this as if it was a serious plan from one of Malta’s cabinet members rather than a summer piece of political puffery to mollify the troops.

Similarly, the maneuvering and pontificating (as well as the chicanery) around Air Malta; the promise of ‘strict rule enforcement’ around hospitality sector illegalities, abusive levels of noise, construction mayhem and public procurement.

And while we are amused and entertained by these summer pantomime politics (with more on offer for future winters, springs, and summers), we would do well to reflect on what’s really going on and what’s ultimately at stake. Our public resources, the wealth we hold in common, our civic well-being, our democracy and the soul of Malta are being sold off or stolen.

In fictional ‘third world’ terms, Malta has become one huge land and resources grab featuring a cast of both home-grown and international characters.

But, trust us, things will be different and better…next summer, next year, next decade!

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