Mr. Juan Ignacio Soto Valle  - President UDITE (Union des Dirigeants Territoriaux de l'Europe) on his official visit to Malta last week stated that based on research by UDITE, compared to other members of the European Union, the profession of the Executive Secretary in Malta was in need of support and assistance by UDITE. Notwithstanding the differences in culture, language, governments and systems within the EU, Mr. Soto Valle stressed that the profession of the Executive Secretary all around Europe, and indeed internationally, was intrinsically the same. Through his first hand experiences during his visit to Malta, Mr. Soto Valle identified the need to establish a minimum level of working conditions which guaranteed full respect to the professional space occupied by the Executive Secretary.

Mr. Soto Valle stated that world-wide, the position of the Executive Head within Local Councils is considered as a profession in its own right. He highlighted three basic components necessary to bring the professional status of the local counterparts in line with international standards;- 1) A revision of the present conditions of employment to introduce stability, guarantee respect, and provide the necessary professional space required by the position, 2) A sound selection system to ensure only suitably qualified and experienced persons occupy these posts, 3) A framework to guarantee the necessary level of investment for the continuous training of persons occupying these posts, accompanied by adequate incentives for career development, as well as adequate training for newly engaged Executive Secretaries.

Mr. Juan Ignacio Soto Valle highlighted the professional relationship established between ASKLM and UDITE, particularly praising ASKLM President Mr. Adrian Mifsud's personal contributions, which have led Mr. Soto Valle to officially announce his nomination of Mr. Adrian Mifsud for UDITE Vice Presidency at the next UDITE Bureau to be held at the Council of Europe next March. This role of Vice Presidency of UDITE shall no doubt add both value and quality to Malta's profile internationally, as well as contribute in no small way towards the development of the professional status of Local Chief Executives within the Local Government sphere.

During his visit to Malta, Mr. Juan Ignacio Soto Valle met the Hon. Tonio Borg - Minister for Local Councils, shadow Minister Hon. Chris Cardona, Mr. Natalino Attard  - Director of Local Councils, Mr. Gaetano Tanti - President UHM, Mr. Michael Cohen - Vice President and Ms. Antonia Farrugia Member of the Association of Local Councils, the two main political parties including Dr. Malcolm Mifsud - President PN College of Councillors and Mr. Ray Attard - Vice-President MLP Councillors' Section , and a number of Executive Secretaries. Mr. Soto Valle also had the opportunity to visit the Naxxar and Kirkop Local Councils.

UDITE has a vast network of professionals backed with a history of past experience in the field of the profession of Local Council Executive Heads. Mr. Soto Valle recognised the fact that Local Councils in Malta were relatively still in their initial phase of development and growth. In the time necessary for the continuous evolutionary process of Local Governance in Malta, the same principles and guidelines of subsidiarity inspiring reforms and decentralisation of the Local Government Sector within the European Union may be followed with profit. To this end, Mr. Soto Valle offered all the technical and other assistance UDITE may offer through its vast network of professionals to all stakeholders during his visit. He stressed that it was essentially in the best interest of all stakeholders to seek to improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of local Executive Heads through the development and protection of the professional space required by the post. Through UDITE's assistance, Malta may avoid the pitfalls experienced by other countries during their history of Local Governance, and in so doing, accelerate the learning process whilst minimising the associated costs, as well as maximising the positive externalities this development shall undoubtedly bring about. This technical and professional assistance is already being delivered by UDITE on behalf of the Council of Europe to a number of countries, including the further development of the profession within the Local Government system in Russia.

Mr. Juan Ignacio Soto Valle heartily thanked Minister Tonio Borg both in his personal and professional capacity as Minister, as well as in representation of the Maltese Government for the warm welcome, sensitivity and respect demonstrated for Local Governance in Malta, as well as extended his personal gratitude on behalf of UDITE to all institutions, political parties, UHM and particularly ASKLM for their kind welcome and hospitality throughout this visit to Malta.



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