3 – 9 January 2001

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Equities rise in 2000, anxious investors left devalued

Trading on the Malta Stock Exchange this year has been interesting and varied but perhaps not quite as varied, or as interesting, as many would have hoped.
On a general note, listed equities on the Exchange tended to peak during January, trailing off toward the year’s middle while reaching their lows, or close to their lows, at the year’s end (also see page 22 for charted representation).
With trading this year now finalised, and with the exemption of Plaza Centres, HSBC and International Hotel Investments, all equities listed on the Malta Stock Exchange have registered an overall appreciation in closing price between the year’s inception and the year’s end (also see page 23 for yearly fluctuations).
However, the Maltese investing community’s trend this year was rather misplaced, with investors becoming edgy and buying up shares just before reaching their apex, then holding on to them as they watched their investments plummet.
Investors who played the market in such a way have seen considerable depreciations to their investments.
The government will be dishing out an extra Lm26 million to supplement public sector’s wages in a move that is hoped will boost morale and responsibility in the notoriously laid back sector. The figure amounts to Lm21 million representing an increase in wages and salaries, Lm2 million will be attributable to increases in Social Security contributions and Lm3 million in the form of an increase in the cost of statutory allowances attached to the conditions of service of varying grades of employees.
As a result, the final cost of the government’s payload to the sector will rise to Lm199 million, or 12 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. The amount, however, also includes compensation for the cost of living increase, which will cost the government, as an employer, Lm2.6 million.
According to Mr Dalli, the largest portion of public expenditure goes on wages and salaries of the 50,000-odd public sector employees. The immense payload, Lm173 million last year and Lm199 million next, constitutes a high ratio within the Gross Domestic Product, a fact that led the Malta Council for Economic Development to concentrate on this price during preparatory discussions on this budget.
The wage incentive is expected to, at once, raise morale within the sector while providing further incentive to the tax-paying public to not allow abuses.

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