26 MARCH 2003

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EU the route to economic prosperity for PN electoral programme

The PN’s main thrust in its electoral programme has been a review of the benefits of the European Union and how each different sector in Malta would benefit from accession.
The economy has been intertwined with the EU in strategies aimed at increasing export through the opening up of a market with over 400 million consumers. The PN’s economic strategy also includes the completion of work-in-progress projects, and actually starting those main projects first proposed in 1998.
These include the completion of Valletta projects, as well as a revitalisation of the port areas around Marsamxett and Cottonera, aiming at the creation of tourism magnet. There is once again a pledge of the a creation of a cruise liner terminal: "Malta will be able to serve the Mediterranean as a centre of tourism, with air passengers arriving in Malta to go aboard the cruise liners."
As EU members, Malta will attract more investment, the PN manifesto reads, that would have otherwise been lost by staying outside the EU.
In order to harmonise workers’ skills with those required by potential future investors, the PN seeks to introduce new training systems to strengthen Malta’s skills base.
Through EU aid, this will also include special help to the self-employed and SMEs. This will be aided through more business incubation centres, to help SMEs in their restructuring processes.
At the heart of this economic strategy is the Malta Enterprise Board, that has grouped the Malta Development Corporation, METCO and IPSE. The PN argue this will ensure a better and more efficient usage of resources, as well as offering a coherent picture and vision of Malta to foreign investors, and market Malta as one complete package.
Additionally, the PN would like to see Government strengthening IT education in bid to increase employment in the technology sector and meet the challenge of competition.
Production and services
‘A sustainable economy’ is the PN’s tack on its overall strategy, with emphasis focused on entrepreneurial initiative, for the creation of new jobs.
The EU will offer Malta the opportunity to develop into a commercial hub catering to the needs of the whole of the Mediterranean region, mainly through the Freeport.
The EU will also offer industrialists better export potential, as well as attracting more investment, contributing to a growth in the manufacturing and production sector.
In the financial services sector, the EU is once again the principal focus, offering "a stamp of trust and stability which will aid the development of Maltese services."
As a member of the EU, Malta will be allowed to offer a financial package of Lm77 million to sustain agricultural producers and aid the restructuring of the sector. Government will be monitoring the economic picture vis-à-vis the agricultural industry to ensure EU competition will not destabilise producers.
Protection of the industry will be a priority at this initial stage of accession.
Farmers will also be paying tax at special rates of 3 per cent on the product value sold at the Pitkalija and to hotels, and on tomatoes, olives and grapes sold for processing,
The EU will also be offering Lm6 million a year for projects aimed at increasing the quality of life for rural families.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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