11 SEPTEMBER 2002
Cartoon this week: Dancing to the tune, but which one?
Dumping the CNI
The news that former Premier Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici has dumped the Campaign for National Independence for Dom Mintoff is interesting, if not good, news for the pro-EU camp.
The move confirms that the man is still mesmerised by the octogenarian. It also points to a schism and confusion resident within the anti-EU campaign, which holds three different voices belting out three different tunes.
After a shameful week with paedophilia allegations hitting an IVA official, nothing could have sounded sweeter to the pro-EU ranks.
But Mifsud Bonnici yesterday also announced a U-turn in the policy he had, until yesterday, so vehemently propagated.
The fledgling Front Maltin Inqumu movement, of which Mifsud Bonnici is now expected to form an integral part, does not stand against EU membership for Malta, but instead opposes the way in which the government is carrying out negotiations within the membership sphere. Dom Mintoff is well noted as having stated his position on Europe as "never say never" to EU accession.
Equally interesting, and another potential cause for jubilation among the pro-EU ranks, is Mifsud Bonnicis statement yesterday that the CNI is to change its position on Europe. As such, the movement is to divert its focus from an all out opposition to the countrys EU bid and instead apply the brunt of its efforts to the EU membership negotiations being carried out by the government.
But while both the new Front Maltin Inqumu and the Campaign for National Independence are to focus on the nearly finalised EU membership negotiations, two questions beg answering.
Why has Mifsud Bonnici turned his back on his own brainchild in favour of another movement holding a similar, if not identical vision? And why have the two former Premiers chosen to focus exclusively on the details of EU negotiations so late in the day, when the aforementioned negotiations are nearly signed, sealed and delivered?
A limping economy
Europes economy is limping, the Financial Times has said. But the respected financial journal does not stop there and cites the fact that four current EU members will fail to their honour pledges to balance their budgets by 2004.
The growth forecasts for this year were downplayed by the paper. This is not good news.
The improbability of the Maltese economys capacity for working wonders in light of such a global slowdown is glaringly obvious. The Maltese economy is undeniably an open one and is accordingly exposed to the turmoil of the international marketplace. Over and above that, the largest proportion of Maltas international trade is carried out with Europe.
For verification of the fact, one only needs a cursory overview of the post 11 September manufacturing and tourism results.
This openness in the Maltese economy makes it all the more susceptible to deterioration, given its strong reliance on tourism and industry, which both suffer from a lack of demand and the ensuing loss in foreign exchange earnings.
Maltese businesses must find new ways of making ends meet a contingency plan to implement should the international economic downward spiral persist.
To place this better within the European scenario, one must add the local flavour of uncertainty that prevails over the EU membership issue, as clearly cited time and time again by international credit rating agencies gauging the potential of Maltas fiscal future.