18 February 2004

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Dalli – sharing vision and financial adroitness

By Matthew Vella

The main face-off between John Dalli and Lawrence Gonzi has seen their first week of campaigning weighing themselves in the face of decision-making, a factor of importance combined by Dalli’s won adroitness in taking strong decisions and the perception of Lawrence Gonzi as a softer character in negotiations and consultations.
It was unsurprising to see Gonzi take on his role as Social Policy Minister launching a crusade against abuse within the social services, a stunt that serves to bolster his persona as that of a ‘decision-maker’. Concurrently, Dalli notched up another point in his favour with the privatisation of the National Lottery.
However it has been the two surveys on the leadership that raised interesting points. Both The Sunday Times and The Malta Financial and Business Times held their own surveys on the leadership, differing however on the people interviewed. The Sunday Times launched a national survey, whilst this newspaper focused on core party activists who will eventually be the sole determining force which will vote either candidate to party leader and Prime Minister.
According to this newspaper’s survey, Dalli scored higher in being ‘capable of standing up to Alfred Sant’, 46.7 per cent seeing him as the ideal man whilst only 36 per cent thought Gonzi would be up for the job. Dalli was also uncontested in his being able to manage the economy better (66.7%) but not of sustaining health and pensions (16%). It was surprising to see that Lawrence Gonzi was considered to have a better ‘ability to take difficult decision’, at 48 per cent just higher than Dalli’s 41.3 per cent.
The results in fact confirm Dalli’s growing popularity amongst PN councillors, when earlier on the Finance and Economic Affairs Minister might have been written off as successor to Eddie Fenech Adami. The survey in fact points clearly that Gonzi does not enjoy outright support as a potential leader for the PN, but also gives a mixed picture of the candidates’ relative strengths and weaknesses.
The decisive factor remains Louis Galea, whose vote may easily transform itself into a vital slant for the top two contenders to the post.
Elsewhere in the Dalli campaign, his leadership romp has been characterised by the publication of his own personal vision for the development of the country, in the form a 48-page booklet that has been sent to all PN councillors.
Entitled Biex hadd ma jibqa’ lura (Ensuring nobody is left behind), the booklet covers Dalli’s thoughts on the economy, the environment, tourism, finance, education, women and Gozo, apart from other fields.
The booklet in fact sees Dalli setting himself high priorities in his agenda, especially in terms of finance and economy, writing that he would like to see every sector striving for a mark of high quality: “This will only be possible if we set our operations onto a higher level and come together to realise the vision of Malta becoming the capital of the Mediterranean: one of the best states in Europe.”
Dalli said he would ensure a deficit less than three per cent of the GDP and a balanced budget spending by 2010, as well as reviewing the taxation and benefits system to encourage more of the working population to seek employment. He stressed on the creation of work with him acting as president of a designate ‘committee for work’, with the clear aim of reaching full employment by 2010, through the creation of a national job creation plan that would involve the effort of the whole government. He also said he would be reforming the labour laws to ensure less abuses and more training for job-seekers, as well as open up more opportunities for women, elder workers and other disadvantaged labourers.
Dalli also he would be taking steps to reduce bureaucracy and increase efficiency for self-employed and small entrepreneurs:
“We need to ensure the Public Service no longer decides on regulations and laws but that it will be authorities and departments to aid those in business avail themselves of these laws. We have to be practical and build a system that can render a service.” Dalli said he believed in discipline and decision-making within the private sector context, and that we would be crusading against the dragging of feet in the private sector.
Dalli said he believed in concrete measures in addressing the proper distribution of welfare, proposing more funds for societies which support people with special needs who are seeking work. He said he believed the social security net can be widened to ensure welfare for those entering old age. He especially made radical proposals with regards to single mothers, saying he would seek methods in which these women could be alleviated from financial pressures.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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