While local entrepreneurs fear that the worst is yet to come, the messages out there are mixed. As much as there is consensus on the fact that we will be somewhat hit, few can accurately predict the extent to which this financial crisis will impact Malta.
But whatever the extent, there is the certainty that this will be an experience from which we can come out alive if we bring the real values of entrepreneurship back into play.
Making money was never meant to be easy, and those who have challenged this very fact by means of speculation are now facing the music. Unfortunately, irresponsible lending and investment by gambling in general has not only had an adverse effect on the doers, but also on pretty much everyone else.
But if we can extract any positive notes here, this crisis marks the end of unregulated practices, irresponsible lending and naive business practices. The upside of the scenario is that proper entrepreneurship is back, and it’s here to stay. There are many lessons to be learnt.
This is a delicate time in which social partners, employers and government need to work closely and focus their efforts in limiting the damage. Timing is key. Needless to mention, presenting proposals to reform energy tariffs in a fait-accompli fashion is not a good example of proper timing. Some major industrialists are already worried sick about retaining their staff in times when transport costs have shot up, tourism is again under threat, and a global recession is underway. In these times, we believe that both government and the lobbies must steer away from backbiting, by rather focusing energies in letting the country benefit from this unfavourable global situation, if not by means of direct profit, at least in terms of competitiveness.
For those who think that capitalism is dead, think again. We are now witnessing the rebirth of capitalism as it was always intended to be. We now need to look into making the best use of our own resources and maximise them to reach their full potential – responsibly, creatively and by use of new founded value sets. We must also be flexible and above all, swift.
The fact that Malta has a strong regulatory framework and is now benefiting from a positive banking reputation worldwide, is in itself a precious resource that must be taken into account. We now have the potential of being perceived safer than ever when it comes to foreign investment. We would like to see government making best use of this resource. On the other hand, we must not ignore the fact that major investments heavily rely on bank credit, so we must not be over ambitious. A new, effective strategy must be in place for us to come out victorious. Whether we must start targeting smaller companies in larger quantities, or smaller investments from the larger companies, is not up to this newspaper to decide. We are here to recommend that Malta Enterprise must revise part of its strategy to suit new international realities. If it has already done so, we would appreciate being informed. We would be more than happy to inform our readers about it by means of adequate coverage.
The climate is changing fast, and the factors for which we may be deemed as an ideal destination for investment are changing at an even faster rate. We must therefore be ready to adapt.
Damage limitation is also indispensable. On one hand, government must not create new measures to discourage employers from retaining their full staff complement. On the other, industry must learn to live with lower profit levels, at least for the time being. We’re all in the same boat. Laying off staff will not make us any more competitive, but rather act as a measure to further drain public funds in social assistance and in turn contribute to a lower spend, thus backfiring on business itself.