this week: Oh show me the way to the next....
GRTU Mover and shaker or kingmaker?
Vince Farrugia has been an influential personality in the economic
and political scene for many years.
Before the 1996 elections the stand of the GRTU that Farrugia spearheads
played a significant role in bringing down the Nationalist government
of the day.
Now the union and its director general may well be instrumental in keeping
the PN in government.
Farrugia refutes the idea that the GRTU, or himself, play the role of
kingmakers, but there is no doubt that the union plays a big role in
shaping public opinion.
In the early days of discussion the EU it was often thought that small
and medium sized enterprises could swing the vote against membership
because of their worries over increased competition.
The GRTU has no official stand in favour or against membership and Farrugia,
while sticking firmly with that stand, has made it clear that from the
economic perspective, joining the bigger market will be beneficial.
He also believes that Maltese businesses would live up to the challenges.
Farrugia believes the GRTUs competence is related to business
matters and said it cannot advise about other aspects of EU membership.
The GRTU had been insisting with the government that it prepares a cost
benefit analysis of the economic impacts of membership, but for reasons
unknown it was never done. The union then collaborated on a report prepared
by Dr Ali Bayer and found the results of that report to be reliable.
Bayers report indicates that Malta stands to gain from EU membership
and expects Maltas GDP to increase by 5.9 percent.
Speaking at a national conference on European Union membership and small
businesses, Vince Farrugia said that the GRTU has no doubt that should
the Maltese decide to join the EU the self-employed and businessmen
would be ready to face up to the challenge and would generate wealth
for themselves, their families, their employees and the country.
Farrugia insists that Malta faces major problems including its financial
deficit and that Malta needs to find "new openings" to solve
The GRTU Director General said entering the large European market together
with our competitors from Eastern Europe will clearly increase the pace
of development on these islands.
He warned that should we remain as we are, our economy would drag and
not grow enough. He said that entering the single European market would
bring us new opportunities.
The GRTU might unwittingly give the pro-EU supporters another boost
with its insistence that a decision be taken on 8 March.
Contrary to the Malta Labour Partys stand, which encourages voters
to abstain from voting, or destroy their vote, the GRTU is pushing its
members to vote yes or no.
While the Labour party will be attempting to count those that rubbish
their vote, or fail to vote, as being against membership. The GRTU will
not, and intends to recognise the majority of yes or no
votes as the winner, as is normal in a referendum.
While the GRTU has, in recent years, been seen as more of an ally of
the MLP, and this was never more in evident in its anti-VAT stand in
1996, it now would seem to be speaking words that are music for the
PN, which wants to see Malta in Europe.