28 January 2004

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Do not contribute to negative mood, government tells social partners

By Kurt Sansone
Government yesterday asked the social partners to tone down their criticism so as not to contribute to the negative mood prevailing in the country and despite being described as positive, the two-hour meeting at Castille produced no date for the beginning of talks on the new social and economic pact to address the country’s competitiveness.
Talking to The Malta Financial and Business Times after the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said the social pact was discussed however no deadline for the talks to start was set. "The social pact was mentioned as a key aspect to help the country move ahead and win the race of competitiveness.
We agreed that we should start discussing the issue with urgency to implement the necessary measures. No deadline has been set but the message is that the social pact should be a priority on the MCESD’s agenda," Dr Gonzi said.
The issue of competitiveness is at the heart of the current spate of job losses.
Meanwhile, after the meeting, GRTU director general Vince Farrugia reiterated his organisation’s stand against bureaucracy, which he described as "too heavy" and "slow to respond."
"Everybody has to do his part to tackle the current employment situation but more importantly, the civil service has to have a mentality that it is not just regulation that brings about change but entrepreneurship. Malta’s prospects are good but we have to work to achieve a better future. We cannot go on talking about the problems, government has to act. We have to streamline bureaucracy, it is too heavy and slow to respond," Mr Farrugia said.
Talking on the steps leading up to Castille under a warm winter sun, Mr Farrugia said government had asked the social partners to be careful of not adding to the black clouds already on the horizon. Being negative is not psychologically good for the country, was government’s message to the social partners.
When asked what he meant by "black clouds", Mr Farrugia said government was concerned there was too much emphasis on the negative aspects, in part fuelled by unemployment rather than positive things.
Malta Employers’ Association secretary general Joe Farrugia described the meeting as positive and insisted that the last thing employers wanted was to cut jobs. "We talked about the current situation concerning unemployment. Together with the other social partners we believe the country can overcome the current situation."
The meeting at Castille was attended by Prime minister Eddie Fenech Adami, ministers Lawrence Gonzi, John Dalli and Francis Zammit Dimech and the social partners; the GRTU, the Malta Employers’ Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Industry and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association.
kurt@newsworksltd.com



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