16 OCTOBER 2002
Budget 2003 is in the making. Of that we are sure. What it will contain in terms of policies is unclear but it will definitely have to take two things into consideration. The first is the state of countrys finances and the second is the fact that next year is election year.
The state of the countrys finances are definitely not what is expected of a healthy economy. But then there are few healthy economies the world over. And this is not only a result of 11 September.
In one aspect there is a positive outlook. In terms of the balance sheet. It is definitely looking more realistic and less lopsided.
But in terms of real growth there will not be many surprises.
The budget in our view will have to create the correct measures that will catalyse growth.
The world economy is not looking good. In real terms the Maltese economy has not fared badly.
The areas which will need attention are those that have a direct influence on unfolding the spending power in the middle classes.
The other point is creating the right environment for investment.
The latter will not materialise unless we settle the European Union question.
Nevertheless, it has to be said that Mr John Dalli has a very difficult job ahead of him. He must please the nation and ensure that the countrys finances do not go haywire.
Farewell, days of innocence
Peaceful Bali. Yes, wasnt it? The gnawing emptiness of terror has reached out again and touched a new target. It wont stop here; the terror will continue to spread and strike where it is least expected, causing death and demoralisation. The implications of the latest attack on innocent people in Bali reminds the world how real the danger is.
With the echoes of the 9/11 commemorations that marked the first year since the atrocity still just a bare month away, we are reminded about the importance to be relentless in the fight against terror. The fact that this crime happened in a Muslim country shows that the terrorist have no qualms about where they sow their deadly seed. When the heart of the free world was attacked, it looked like a pre-emptive strike against the pagan Great Satan, as Muslim fundamentalists call the US. Now however, they have made it clear that everything is grist to their mill; they seek wanton destruction and no boundaries are safe.
The attack on Bali gives us pause for thought. What if we are targeted next? This is no idle exaggeration; we are a tourist destination; we are peaceful, quiet and fun-loving. Most importantly for the terrorist, Malta provides a medium where people from all over the world mix freely. Because of this, any destruction inflicted here would carry maximum damage and maximum pain.
Seen in a post-Bali light, Malta is especially vulnerable. What are we doing to ensure, as much as it is humanly possible to do so, that we are safeguarding ourselves from this threat? Not very much, apparently, when one keeps in mind that we had an alleged Al-Qaeda member in our country for a number of days.
Can we afford to be so careless?