Pensions reforms an exercise in
learning Hans Eichel
Finance and Economic Affairs Minister John Dalli yesterday welcomed
German Finance Minister Hans Eichel at Auberge dAragon. This is
the second stop in the German ministers three-country tour, in
which he has already visited Slovenia and will now proceed to Cyprus.
"Learning from each other," was Mr Eichels advice on
the current pensions crises facing many European economies. He said
pensions reforms were on many governments discussion tables and
that this was a problem facing many EU members. Pointing towards Sweden,
as one of the countries with a sustainable pensions system, Mr Eichel
said much was to be learnt from the Scandinavian country.
Both ministerial delegations yesterday held a 30-minute discussion in
which Maltese-German past and future relationships were discussed, as
was Maltas forthcoming co-operation with Germany as an EU member.
Friendly words came from the part of Mr Eichel, who said a good rapport
already exists between both countries, remarking on Finance Minister
Dallis "skilful interpretation" of Maltas economic
"It has been impressive to see what your country has done so far
economically in the wake of EU membership. We are looking forward towards
stronger co-operation", Mr Eichel said.
As Germany faces dim signs of recovery from current economic slowdown,
it looks like an increase in the Ifo business climate index has shown
a rise in positive sentiment about the German economy (see story on
page 20). Three successive increases in the Ifo index have indicated
the index will go up, but the European powerhouse has been threading
on recession for months.
Asked about his personal opinions on the Stability and Growth pact,
Mr Eichel said he did not feel it was necessary to change the Maastricht
"We will do what we can, even though it is not easy for us. Right
now, we are going through a strict budgetary consolidation. This will
enable us to move towards economic growth and fulfil the Maastrict crteria.
Germanys economic well-being is not only important for us, but
also for the EU and for Malta."
Minister Dalli said that in facing the strict rules of adherence to
the euro, Malta would not loosen up on any form of discipline. Decisions
which will have to be taken to bring us in line with the Maastricht
criteria would have to take place, Dalli said, but there was no need
for any defeatist pessimism.