Looking at statistics with a different pair of glasses, Labour leader Alfred Sant does not believe the country is experiencing an economic turnaround and questions the reliability of official statistics, which he claims do not tally with the prevailing feeling among business operators.
Interviewed for the first time in Business Today, Sant says government’s timescale to adopt the Euro on 1 January 2008 is premature.
“Before we achieve certain targets, especially healthy economic growth rates we would be putting the cart before the horse by introducing the Euro,” Sant says.
But if the Labour Party is returned to government in 2008 after the Euro would have been introduced, do not expect any shock decisions. “If the Euro is already in place then there isn’t much to do,” he says.
The Labour leader cautions against further erosion of Malta’s competitiveness, a situation, he believes can occur if the Euro is introduced at a time when the economy is underperforming.
“If we have an economy that is on par with other EU countries, then it is alright to introduce the Euro now that we are members of this bloc. But if our economy is underperforming and the national debt remains way above the EU average, the Euro can create problems,” Sant says.
In the interview Sant also speaks about pension reform and his party’s study of the issue which will deliver a set of proposals in two months’ time.
And directly addressing the business community, Sant’s message is a simple one: Labour delivers.
“It is true that quite a number of businessmen are Nationalists but at the end of the day it is the country which counts and the balance sheet. And we are interested in their balance sheets because if they are good, they will employ people and the country will move ahead,” Sant says.