27 FEBRUARY 2002

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Giving in is no way forward

A government is there to lead, take decisions and implement policy. Having said that we are all out for a government that listens to its citizens and changes its policies to accommodate public demand whenever it is justified to do so. But to mask the turnaround on the Drydocks’ service bonus as an exercise in comprehension is way off the mark.

The sad reality is that government has given in to the demands of the Drydocks workers and the General Workers’ Union to go ahead and pay off an extra Lm2,000 per person over the age of 56 who decides to take the early retirement scheme. And this, contrary to the declaration Social Policy Minister Lawrence Gonzi gave this newspaper merely two weeks ago.

When the Drydocks task force was put into force last year we hoped for the best. At last government was tackling the bull by the horns, we believed. But alas, if backtracking on financial commitments is going to be the order of the day we can only cringe at the thought of how expensive the Drydocks reform is going to be.

For the Drydocks workers government’s proposals are no velvet glove. But for workers, who make out their living in the private sector the Drydocks package is a lucrative deal they could only dream of when things start going bad. And government seems oblivious of this.


Weathering the new economic storm

"There’ll be no gain without pain" was a phrase we heard time and again as we prepared for the inevitable restructuring of Malta’s economy.

Until recently, they were just words, and their impact was lessened by this. But now that the theory is giving way to practical examples, the reactions are coming thick and fast. Closures, downsizing, tailoring and redundancies are all words we are going to have to become acquainted with if Malta is to move itself successfully into the new economy.

Farsons is the latest example of a company that has taken the bull by the horns and rethought its future, thereby also undergoing an exercise in damage containment. It has recognised that it cannot sustain or maintain the loss-incurring aspects of its business open-endedly – its fast food outlets - and has taken action, while simultaneously choosing to invest in the projects which have potential.

Farsons might be making the headlines this week, but it is certainly not alone. There are many businesses out there who are incurring losses on a weekly basis and who will, sooner or later, have to reconsider their options.

Perhaps trade has not met expectations, perhaps business plans were not mapped out accurately enough. Or perhaps some entrepreneurs simply saw too big; a common error if we are honest.

But as Louis Farrugia said, the chickens will have to come home to roost at some point. Many entrepreneurs may well need to do some soul-searching over the next few months. Questions need to be asked, as to whether they are willing to adapt to the new ways of doing business – on a more modest, cost effective and tailored level. Or if not, how they plan to weather the new economic storm that is upon us.

 



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