3 – 9 January 2001

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Morale and efficiency-boosting wage 'incentivisation' for public service employees

By David Lindsay

Finance Minister John Dalli's budgetary incentive to improve job performance within the notoriously resource-unfriendly public sector will come into effect with this month's paycheque, in the form of an overall 15% increase in government expenditure for public sector salary increases.
However, wage increases for individual employees will be dependent on the grade of the employee, with senior management benefiting from the highest increases – as negotiated in terms of the collective agreement signed earlier this year between the government and the trade unions.

In many areas these salaries compare favourably with those paid out in the private and parastatal sectors. Likewise comparable with other sectors, civil servants will now have their collective agreement revised every three years.

UHM Secretary General and collective agreement broker, Gejtu Vella, explains, "The collective agreement is aimed at introducing a revised work ethic to the public sector, whereby employees will be expected to do their utmost to carry out eight hours of work for eight hours pay.

"We [the unions] will definitely be harping on this point in order to ensure that a full day's work is performed by these employees. However, it is a sad fact that just a few employees negligent toward their duties have cast a dark cloud on the diligent work carried out by the rest of the sector."

None more so than investors in Middle Sea Insurance shares, which have seen a depreciation of Lm1.188, or 24 per cent in share value between the equity's yearly high of Lm5.00 at the end of January and the equity's current valuation of Lm3.812.

The first week of January had seen the equity's low of Lm3.483, which, just two weeks later, had soared to Lm5 – providing for ideal profit-making market conditions at the year's inception.

Those investing in Bank of Valletta shares at or close to their peak would have been subject to similar losses on their investments. The equity had reached its yearly high of Lm5.88 in mid-January, while the equity currently stands at Lm4.78 – a difference of Lm1.10, or 19 per cent, per share.

Meanwhile, the equity has reached its yearly low of Lm4.60 relatively late in the by closing once in September at the price.

HSBC, meanwhile, has provided investors with a similar depreciation between its yearly high and its current closing price. The equity had peaked in mid-January at Lm7.601 and has fallen from its perch to rest now at Lm6.50, representing a drop in value of Lm1.101, or 14 per cent – had HSBC shares been bought at their high and are still held on to now.

January was the wise investor's time to shift the shares, as they had peaked at a whopping Lm7.601 during the month, while bottoming out this year at Lm6.20 in mid-September.

Maltacom investors, despite the degree of hype surrounding the equity this year, has managed to provide imprudent investors, those who had bought the equity at its peak of Lm3.284 at the end of March, with virtual losses of Lm0.607, or 18 per cent per share, in view of the equity's current closing price of Lm2.677.

The equity's low this year, meanwhile, was posted on 15 November and was of Lm2.50.

Anxious investors in Lombard Bank shares, despite representing a depreciation of just 4.25 per cent, had they bought at the share's peak, would have been subject to end of year losses of Lm0.221 per share.

The equity saw its peak this year with Lm5.201 at the end of January and now currently stands at Lm4.98.

Meanwhile, the equity attained a low of Lm4.50 at September's close.

Those investing in Simonds Farsons Cisk shares at the equity's end-January peak of Lm1.20 are now left with shares Lm0.21 less in value when taking into consideration the equity's current closing price of Lm0.99.

The equity had bottomed out this year at Lm0.65 just three weeks earlier, having provided the timely investor with close to a 100 per cent profit margin.

Those investing in Plaza Centre shares, listed on the Exchange in June, at their yearly peak of Lm0.97 attained in August now hold shares that have depreciated in value by Lm0.11, considering their current closing price of Lm0.86 – also the equity's current closing price.

Suncrest Hotels share investors buying up the equity at its peak are now left with an investment that has depreciated in value by Lm0.105, or some 14 per cent.

The equity had peaked at the end of January at Lm0.77, while Suncrest shares currently stand at Lm0.665.

The equity's low this year, meanwhile, was registered in July when the equity stood at Lm0.55.

International Hotel Investments, meanwhile, has provided investors with the least drastic losses when purchasing shares at their peak, by falling only Lm0.05 between its peak and current closing price.

The equity had peaked during its inaugural month of June on the Exchange in at Lm1, while its current closing price is of Lm0.95.0

The equity, meanwhile, reached a low of Lm0.85 in mid-November.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt