this week: Out of the frying pan, into the fire
The end of a tough year
This has been a very tough year from a business perspective
and there appear to be some very valid concerns about the future. The
next year will not be a very easy one. The European Union accession
process is more or less over but sooner, rather than later, Malta will
have to suffer the birth pangs of European membership.
This will bring increased competitivity and a plethora of legislation
that is awkward and at times bulky.
The catalyst for change will accelerate those reforms that have been
shelved for too long a time by government. The reasons for this are
a combination of political discord, indecisiveness and union arrogance.
Across the board there is a general sense of consensus for reform and
restructure, but when it comes to the crunch there are few willing to
take the plunge.
The year 2004 will be marked by radical changes in the way we experience
reform and change.
The social-dimension, which has all too often been used and misused
to hijack change will be side-tracked.
A value will be added to each and every operation, service and freebie.
This will be evident in the health and pension sectors which are calling
out for radical reform.
Until now, there has been far too much talk and limited action.
This new approach will bring about a culture change. It will lead to
strong reactions from those who have accustomed themselves to living
beyond their means, to running companies like fiefdoms, to acquiring
banking facilities on false pretences, to tax evasion and fraud. And
others to receiving services for free, supposedly at no cost.
These are not exceptions, but in many cases the norm in the business
and fiscal environment in Malta and Gozo. They have gone unchecked and
finally it has dawned on all of us that this cannot go on forever.
It will take some deep reckoning on the part of many small and big businesses
alike and it will take a courageous government to tackle the issues
without looking over their backs to worry about that eternal nightmare:
the threat of lost votes.
The European Union with its 25 members will not be a rose garden and
the Maltese financial and business community will soon appreciate that
networking and contacts alone are not enough for business success.
But we have what it takes to be winners. Even though we are small, we
too can have the vision, the ability to adapt, the innovation and the
endeavour to be at least as good and sometimes even better than everyone
else. A prerequisite for success.
This is a brave new world and we await its impacts with some trepidation.