23 February 2005

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UN economic report gets Malta’s growth figures all wrong
By Kurt Sansone

A United Nations report, published yesterday by the UN Economic Commission for Europe outlining economic prospects for 2005, got its numbers wrong and went totally off the mark when forecasting Malta’s GDP growth figures.
The report, which was given wide international media coverage, estimates Malta’s real GDP growth for 2005 at 4.75 per cent, way above the government’s own estimate of 1.5 per cent.
The UNECE report analysing the world economic situation and prospects for 2005 concludes that Europe’s growth for this year will be largely underpinned by encouraging growth in the new EU member states including Malta.
International news coverage, including a BBC news report, highlighted Europe’s small economies such as Ireland, Cyprus and Malta as being among the continent’s best performers this year.
In the 2005 budget Finance Minister Lawrence Gonzi said that Malta’s economy was expected to grow by 1.5 per cent in real terms and 4.7 per cent in nominal terms.
It seems the UN report mistook the figure for real growth and instead quoted the nominal increase. According to UNECE’s report, with a phenomenal growth of 4.75 per cent Malta’s would rank as the sixth best performing economy of the European Union in 2005.
Instead, with a forecasted growth of 1.5 per cent it transpires that Malta’s economy would be the worst performing among the 10 new entrants.
In 2003 Malta’s GDP contracted by 0.3 per cent and only recuperated slightly in 2004 registering a dismal growth of 0.6 per cent. Nowhere in Government’s estimates for the next few years is growth expected to top four per cent.

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