this week: Manna from the starry sky...
An Ode to Joy
The reported post election mini-boom in the retail sector coupled with
good signs for restaurateurs and hotels cannot be taken as a sign of
economic revival. The EU feel good factor will not hit home for some
time and in these years important decisions will have to be taken to
ensure Malta makes the most of the opportunities that will present themselves
with EU membership.
Expectations are high and even in the next few months one can reasonably
predict that the property market, if nothing else, will be bullish.
All those that passively or actively supported EU membership now expect
manna from heaven, foreign investment flying in on every arriving aeroplane.
Malta Enterprise will be expecting to finally rent out every vacant
factory block and see all industrial estates thriving while Ode
to Joy blares out from the voices of the factory workers.
The tourism and retail sector expects that every potential tourist will
have Malta in mind as a soon to be member of the EU family, ready to
accept idea that Maltese people are now one of them in ways that we
previously were not.
A mini-boom could snowball, business confidence would be regained and
before we know it we will all be singing the Aida.
The truth will never be that joyous and Maltas government and
civil service will have to wake up to their tasks much ignored in previous
legislatures the business community will be in for some hard
thinking too. All those that thought they could relax following the
referendum and election victories are in for a nasty wake up call.
Manna from heaven the EU will not be, even if the opportunities are
out there and we Maltese will have to trust our wily nature to ensure
we get the best we can.
Many years ago a forward-looking Chinese politician set up a one stop
shop that potential investors could visit and, theoretically at least,
come away with all the necessary information and permits required to
set up business in Malta.
There is no good reason why Malta should not be able to do the same,
although we can think of a hundred and one excuses as to why this has
not been done in the past, and the chairman of Enterprise Malta would
do well to follow the Chinese example.
The Civil Service still needs much upgrading to make the second part
of its name ring true, and the business community cannot continue to
be hampered by red tape.
Some steps in the right direction have been made, it is possible to
apply for VAT registration via the internet, for example, instead of
taking half a day off to visit the VAT department and hang around in
Most of the civil service departments need restructuring and if steps
have been taken in this direction, they certainly do not show in all
The business community too will have to start shaping up to compete.
There has been much talk of restructuring, but the time for talk is
now over. All businesses will have to become more flexible, ready to
meet ever changing circumstances, and remembering in the end, that the
customer is king.