this week: Classroom politics - Fava style
Avoiding a nose dive
Government seems to have woken up from its mid-summer
nights dream and has started to tackle with resolve financial
black holes that are impinging on government finances.
The first two bold attempts are the Drydocks and PBS, where government
has put its foot down and is demanding leaner, more efficient and profitable
The discourse has been tough and hopefully it will be followed with
equally tough action. Half-baked solutions such as the creation of new
companies to absorb the extra employees should be scrapped.
These are only stop-gap solutions to buy industrial peace. The end result
would be financial white elephants that would depend on government funding
Reducing employees whose wages are dependent on the public purse and
reforming outdated work practices is a must. But there is one pertinent
argument to be made.
This government, like any other before it, has much to blame for most
of the overstaffing in public entities and corporations. It also has
much to blame for extravagant pre-electoral promises that were not costed
according to the financial situation of the country.
With such a heavy conscious it is almost impossible for government to
get us out of this financial and economic straight jacket without having
to contend with a lot of finger-pointing.
Speaking on TVM programme Reporter last Monday, Chamber of Commerce
President Reginald Fava put his finger on the wound. He blamed politicians
of all shades and colour for employing people with the civil service
as if the State was their private company. Reginald Fava also accused
politicians of fostering the dangerous mentality that government services
come for free.
But it was Reginald Favas comments on tax evasion and abuse of
social services that hit the nail on the head. If making employees redundant
is politically and socially sensitive, on curbing tax evasion and stamping
out abuse of social services politicians should have no problem to agree
on common action.
Abuse is abuse, whoever perpetrates it. It should not be difficult to
condemn unless politicians decide to put on blinkers and cater for the
petty demands of parochial voters.
Despite concerted efforts over recent years tax evasion is still a national
While salaried employees have had the noose tightened, little has been
done to ensure the self-employed, retailers and professionals do not
evade their taxes.
The same can be said for social services where abuse is rampant in almost
all areas. And no, we will not be taken in by tears shed by some poor
soul, who believes that collecting free medicine entitles him to collect
it even when the need for it would have elapsed.
It has been repeated incessantly that the time has come for bold decisions
to be taken. It is good that financial white elephants such as PBS and
the Drydocks are being dealt with. But the effort must not stop at that.
If politicians have the national interest at heart then they must admit
past mistakes and agree on the way forward.
No more reports, interminable meetings and lip service. Decisions need
to be taken and more importantly implemented. The country is treading
a fine line and postponing problems will only serve to stall the engine
sending us all into a disastrous nose-dive.