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
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
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
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