07 January 2004

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Toon this week: How to keep the wolves at bay?

A brave new world

The year 2004 will be a brave new world, or much of the same. Though grey clouds have been painted by many observers there is much to look forward to in 2004.
This is the year when Malta will officially become a European Union member. It will bring new opportunities and, better still, further realisations that the old ways cannot remain in place forever - the dockyards, the parastatal companies, the tax evasion, the accountability and the subsidies.
There are many things to criticise in the run up to the final accession process. Yet, the flip and positive side to the birth pangs linked to full membership will be forgotten once we experience the metamorphosis that is eagerly awaited by most Maltese.
Yet this change will not be greeted by everyone. And the downsizing in various bloated companies and government department, which, in some cases, have been run like fiefdoms will bring a smoother running economic machine.
It may bring hardship in the very beginning, it may also bring a number of makes and breaks.
Yet, all this is necessary if we are to relate to the challenges of the next 20 years.
Our culture of dealing will no longer be limited to networking and who you know or do not know. In the world of tenders and contracts we have already sensed and discovered that there is need for more transparency. Perhaps we need to see much more, but with EU money there is little room for contract procedures to be camouflaged beneath ministerial discretion.
The European Union accession will foster confidence, a marked improvement in the economies of scale and new opportunities to attract new incentives to Malta.
It will not be manna from heaven, but the opportunities available will kindle a feel-good factor in our business community.
This is the time for more commitment from the parties involved in the running of the institutions that catalyse growth. It is also a time for Malta to realise that many of the authorities and boards with heavy expense accounts should be reviewed. The days of overlap and waste are over.
This is the year in which the social welfare system will need to redesign itself without catapulting the underprivileged into a worse situation.
This should be the year when the stock exchange recharges its chances for new financial investment.
This will be the year of change, when Malta will embrace the European Union commitment and look ahead for the next logical step - the adoption of the euro, the currency that silently eats away at the powerful and distinct dollar.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | E-mail