8 JANUARY 2003
By Matthew Vella
Alfred Sant will be invited, once again, to explain his criticism of the EU financial package that yielded a net beneficiary of Lm81 million for the Maltese government.
This time he is set to face EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Gunther Verheugen and Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami in a debate over the EU package entitled "Costs and Benefits of the Negotiated Package" on Friday, 24 January 2003.
For a glorified cost-benefit analysis of the Lm81 million the Maltese negotiating team bagged in Copenhagen, Alfred Sant is set to offer a dissection of his logic as to how the four-score figure was whittled down to the incredible low figure of Lm1.5 million.
But the Opposition leader faces a somewhat understanding business community. They may certainly not be anti-Europe, and possibly not favour Labours partnership strategy, but at least Dr Sant will be in a controlled environment, not having to suffer the hostility of Sliema-type crowds as one bitter experience has proved.
The Chamber of Commerce will be organising the special debate for its members and for its kindred organisations, namely the Association of General Retailers and Traders, Malta Employers Association, Malta Federation of Industry and Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. Other social partners are also being invited to attend this event related to this historic decision for the country.
Continues on page 2In a press statement that Chamber of Commerce said: "As far as its information and communication strategy is concerned, the Chamber believes that it is duty bound to ensure that all in business are informed in the best way possible about the potential impact of the final package negotiated between Malta and the EU on their business. The panel of distinguished speakers lined up for the seminar ensures that the information given to members is accurate and that proceedings are balanced.
"This is yet another initiative of the Chamber with regard to this topic of prime national importance. After co-founding the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) and setting-up the necessary internal structures, over the past decade, to analyse and assess the options related to Malta-EU relations, the Chamber organized a survey amongst its members, besides the seminar in question."
The Chamber renewed its European commitment, harking on the bodys pro-EU stance by claiming it has been in favour of the strengthening of economic, social and political ties with this economic and political bloc ever since the Association Agreement between Malta and the then-European Economic Community in 1971.
The Chamber said that it has been active since 1998 in making the necessary representations in the national interest with the highest authorities within the European Commission.
"Through MBBs assistance, the Chamber has kept regular contact with various senior officials within the Commissions Directorate-Generals by means of regular visits to Brussels.
"Naturally, the Chamber directed its representations in favour of the economy and the business community at the local authorities, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in particular, the Prime Minister, the Head of Maltas Negotiating Team, and the Leader of the Opposition. Wherever necessary, the Chamber offered constructive criticism which proved to be beneficial to Maltas cause as it was taken on board by the local and foreign authorities to obtain the deserved conditions for the country."