Following the announcement of the national Budget for the coming year, KSU have published their reaction to Finance Minister Edward Scicluna’s speech, applauding the Budget for delving into matters which deserve “recognition and importance”, whilst urging to always keep the voice of the student in mind in the decision making process by holding discussions and consultation sessions.
The Budget will of course affect the lives of students in many ways, and as a result KSU’s reaction document delves deeper into various proposals and how they could affect the student body.
Welfare: Increase in stipends, minimum wage greeted positively
KSU welcomed the increase of stipends, and also applauded the extension of the reduction of VAT to 5% on books, newspapers and electronic publications. The latter measure, KSU said, will be sure to have a positive impact on students’ personal finances with respect to their daily university lives. The proposed €3 weekly increment on minimum wage earners over several years was also welcomed by the council, saying that this could be especially impactful for students as their jobs whilst students tend to fall within the minimum wage bracket.
Infrastructure: Shift focus towards cyclists, car pooling and other initiatives
KSU applauded the proposed investment of €100 million in roadworks, but stressed that proper attention had to be given to bicycle users when carrying out these roadworks. They urged the government to ensure maximum safety for bicycle users whilst implementing any projects they have in mind related to road works. KSU did however applaud the government’s €1 million fund for the creation of new green spaces, saying that the government should work towards a greener environment. On the government’s proposal to introduce new schemes to encourage developers to create new parking spaces in urban areas, the council suggested that the government should still shift its focus towards car pooling and other green initiatives.
Education: More clarification needed
Speaking on the proposed revision of classification of courses across all licensed educational institutions, KSU said that they would like more clarification on this point. The Council meanwhile applauded the government for offering informal civic education in schools following the Vote 16 initiative, saying that this was something which they had recommended during the previous term.
Gozo: Government urged to keep in mind extra expenses Gozitan students face
The Council praised the continuation of initiatives to help Gozitans with accommodation, but urged the government to keep in mind the extra expenses that are borne by Gozitan students and to continue lessening that burden. KSU also praised the government’s aim to introduce a Park and Ride system in Gozo, saying that this was in line with the council’s green agenda and its efforts to promote alternative transport.
Transport: Alternative transport subsidies and free public transport scheme praised
This year’s budget has also given focus to alternative measures of transport whereby there have been proposed measures related to the extension of subsidies with respect to pedelec bikes, electric bikes as well as scooters. Moreover, the government promised the extension of the grant on the installation of bicycle racks. KSU applauded such measures as these go directly in line KSU’s mission statement for the year which focuses on sustainability as well as a greener and cleaner environment. Similarly, the council praised the government’s continuation and expansion of the free public transport scheme.
Health: Blood Bank investment welcomed
KSU praised the government’s proposal to improve the services offered by the National Blood Bank by purchasing
new machinery, saying that this was a matter it is of utmost importance especially in light of the constant need of blood donations.
Other Proposals: Special praise for start-up initiatives
KSU applauded the government’s tax exemption for Voluntary Organisations with a yearly income not exceeding €10,000, saying that such a measure encourages active participation, whilst they also praised a proposal to draw up a new strategy dealing with the detention of irregular migrants.
Special praise was reserved for the various aspects of aid that the government is proposing for start-up businesses, such as the setting up of an action plan for such start-ups and the promotion of a seed investment scheme as well as an initiation of an accelerator programme which shall be in collaboration with an international entity. KSU said that they were delighted to see that students, who are the future of tomorrow and who wish to venture within the startup scene, are being encouraged to do so through such proposals.