27 MARCH 2002

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Cartoon this week: Let’s go

The lethargy that surrounds us

This country has a list of victims who were either killed or maimed by exploding fireworks factories. And the list just expands year after year despite the outcry for proper regulation that floods the media each time a blast is recorded.

The latest fireworks factory explosion is no novelty. It has left three more victims to fight it out with death amid the grief and pain that such tragedies bring about. We are no fortune-tellers but the shock of this horrid accident will soon go away just as the shock of so many other tragic accidents has gone away only to take us back to square one.

This culture of lethargy when it comes to deal with tough issues is symptomatic of the Maltese way of doing things.

It starts with politicians, with their lieutenants and continues with the system.

We know were the problems are to be found, we know that something needs to be done, we know what needs to be done but we simply do not find the right energy to push through with changes that are more than just a patchwork exercise.

This is the same culture that allows for an over-bloated civil service to continue syphoning money into inefficient and outdated practices.

Forget for a moment the benchmarking exercise or the high-brow talk of efficiency indicators, the civil service is a hot potato that cannot be touched and once again we are faced with a situation where the necessary changes are postponed indefinitely.

We talk of changing the way the civil service acts, we experience that thing called MITTS. We listen to promises of revolutions.

We are not impressed.

The same culture breeds the lethargy we have witnessed for decades when it comes to upgrading the basic infrastructure of this country.

The state of roads, the third-world public transport and the abandoned countryside is proof of a country that cannot be described as poor or decrepit.

And yet despite the talk of better co-ordination, upgrading and enforcement we persist in a circle of hot air and passiveness.

The Maltese way of dealing with these matters amounts to grossly inefficient parastatal companies. Despite their potential to do well, they are heavily over-staffed and remain dependent on government subsidies.

The problems are known, the solutions too.

It is the movers and shakers that are missing.

The ones that will deliver the goods to the tax-payers.

At this moment in our history, when this small country sits on a social, economic and political crossroads the culture of lethargy continues to hound this nation.

Bold decisions need to be taken to reform an ingrained archaic mentality. Accountability, efficiency and enforcement need to be more than simple buzzwords.

They must become part of the language and an integral part of our culture.

Copyright © Network Publications Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07, Malta
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt