17 December 2003

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We are at war against bureaucracy – Edwin Vassallo

- reiterates he will reconsider his position if he doesn’t deliver

By Kurt Sansone
There is no mistaking the tone of Edwin Vassallo’s voice. He is an angry parliamentary secretary wanting to streamline bureaucracy for small businesses but he faces a mentality problem that gives little priority to efficiency.
His parliamentary discourse on Monday in which he criticised the various authorities and departments rendering a service to the business community, was a reflection of the complaints often raised by people in business.
"This is a fight open on all fronts, we are at war against bureaucracy," Mr Vassallo told The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday.

"The Ta’ Qali crafts village park (which has been coming for years) is only one such example of inefficiency. There are numerous others. The food safety commission cannot function as it is supposed to because there are people intent on protecting their little empire. I want results today because that is how business is made. An opportunity must be grabbed when it comes along not tomorrow or next year," the parliamentary secretary retorted.
And to show that he means business, Vassallo also put his job on the line. "I will either deliver because that is what I’m here to do, or else I will go back to my family business where I can deliver. I am ready to reconsider my position if I don’t deliver."
Vassallo told The Malta Financial and Business Times that he enjoys the full backing of ‘his’ minister, John Dalli, in this ‘war’. "I am in the right ministry, surrounded by the right people. We understand that small businesses have an important role in the economic and social development of this country. They are the ones that will create the jobs if allowed to flourish."
When asked whether the problems raised were in part due to a lack of political will from the government he forms part of, Vassallo replied. "There is willingness to get things done but not everybody feels the same urgency or alertness to the problems faced by small businessmen. In my parliamentary secretary I insist that people are continuously alert to complaints and problems of consumers and businesses."
Vassallo played down suggestions that he was against the setting up of authorities. "The authorities are good and they were needed. But we need to install an entrepreneurial mentality. We should not be in for regulation but efficiency. Efficiency should come first and regulation later," he insisted.
Meanwhile, the stand taken by Vassallo in Parliament has also earned him praise from the GRTU. In a statement issued yesterday the GRTU expressed solidarity with Vassallo and said that it would be a shame if the parliamentary secretary went ahead with his threat to call it a day.
The GRTU called on other parliamentarians to take on the issue of bureaucracy, which, the statement claimed, was being heaped on small businesses week in week out by the various authorities and departments.
kurt@newsworksltd.com



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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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