Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Euro: A Cure or a Curse for the EU?

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I have pleasure in launching the Essay I have been working upon since my retirement form Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Malta last June 2017.

I believe this Essay provides innovative and possibly controversial thinking of how to achieve a instant, equitable and durable solution for the instability within the  European Monetary Union (EMU) and is possibly the only way  to ensure longevity for the EURO.

I wish to thank all those who helped me in reviewing my drafts and suggesting improvements even if many remained sceptical on the practicality of what is being suggested.

I sincerely hope this adds a different viewpoint on the the problems caused by strong disequilibria within the EMU and that at least it can be considered and discussed.

I would greatly value any feedback.

Click on the link below:

PDF download: The Euro: A Cure or a Curse for the EU

Friday, 1 December 2017

These government actions rub me on the wrong side

This government is continuously unfairly criticised by Opposition and opposition friendly quarters for stupid things based on arguments of convenience by those who do not seem to understand that they are no longer in government and that they have no God given right to obstruct a government legitimately elected through a fair democratic process.

There is however very little or no criticism of the real constructive type and this does not help an executive to take better and more informed decisions.

There are two policy matters  which  are currently rubbing me on the wrong side.
Freedom of the press is essential to the preservation of a democracy; but there is a difference between freedom and license. Editorialists who tell downright lies in order to advance their own agendas do more to discredit the press than all the censors in the world.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

The first is the proposed liberalisation of the rights for the media to act without risk of punishment through criminal libel proceedings and garnishee orders by those who feel offended and damaged by media publications.   The only remedy for victims of unfair media exploits is civil libel with maximum compensation of just over ten thousand euro and through a process which in the best of circumstances could take two years and often much longer.

I am all in favour of progressive liberalisation of the space that the media need to operate in but such liberalisation must bring with it increased protection for the rights of individual against gutter media who prefer populism to factual reporting and fair comment.

At a time when government is protecting the rights of minorities and helping them to live as normal citizens in this peace loving nation, we must be wary not to oppress a new minority by exposing them to ill-intended allegations by media who can take risks in the knowledge that at most they will be found guilty under civil libel proceedings several years down the road. 

If we allow such a state of affairs to flourish, knowing how easily the anti government media calls for resignations on the slightest perception of infringements, we will see many careers destroyed, many valid people distancing themselves from politics and and families hurt and damaged as the balance of power shifts towards the media and against the individual.   I can of course speak from personal experience but I am not here to defend my personal case.   I am defending the rights of several individuals who like me have been hurt by irresponsible pseudo journalism and are still working through the several years it takes for civil libel proceedings in court to come to a final conclusion.

I am NOT suggesting for government to walk back on the proposed liberties for the media.   What I am proposing is the setting up of an Arbiter for the media on the same lines as the Arbiter for Financial Services where libel cases can be heard in an informal setting and brought to a conclusion in a matter of months not years, with full right of appeal for those who feel aggrieved by the Arbiter's decision. 

If we have created a mechanism for easy despatch of financial grievance that may involve a mere few hundred euros against payment of a token fee, how much more we need such mechanism for libel cases that may ruin careers, families and lives!!  Civil libel proceedings currently cost an arm and limb even to file let alone to follow through all the way to appeal if necessary.

What is also rubbing me the odd way is yet another Air Malta restructuring.  As an honest taxpayer I am afraid nobody is representing my real interest in the negotiations going on at KM hoping to give it a sustainable future.

Before conducting another half baked restructuring at Air Malta I suggest people concerned read what I had written about previous restructurings in 2010/2012.  See links below.

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A serious restructuring cannot but start with identifying the number of people and related skills needed to run an efficient operation .  All the rest are a load on Air Malta's finances which will not allow the Company to fly into profitability. 

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Understanding why

Image result for self destruction
PN should stop pressing the button
I muse how is it possible that the PN continue so obstinately to destroy themselves;  how is it possible that the PN continue in their mission to damage Malta's international reputation when they have tangible evidence that such manoeuvres are backfiring in terms of loss of electoral popularity; what pleasure or benefits do they get by magnifying our weaknesses ( of which we have just as much as anybody) to the delight of foreign interests who are eager to pull away business from our shores to theirs.

After much meditation I came to the conclusion that the root of this pitiful situation that the PN find themselves in can be found to the events of summer 1998 when the PN after losing, unexpectedly, the  October 1996 elections to newcomer like Alfred Sant, unbelievably found themselves back in government in September 1998.

The 1998 event has imbued in the PN leadership a sense of false superiority and they started firmly believing that:

  • PN has a God given eternal mandate to govern this country
  • PL have no right or skills to ever be in charge of governing this country
  • Anybody with Labour sympathies must be deficient on their intelligence quotient and cannot be trusted in any executive positions so that all promotions and appointments should be reserved for intelligent PNers. 
  • If for any reason the electorate were to trust the PL to govern, than the search for a higher order national priority to have the PN in government justifies the PN sabotaging a PL government even if in the process some 'temporary' harm is inflicted on our country.   To the PNers, the end of having a PN government according to God's will as shown in 1998, justifies the means to harm the country.
The blog of Daphne Caruana Galizia (DCG - God bless her soul) is the most obvious example of such frame of mind that Labourites are children of a lesser God, and that PNers have a natural superiority in terms of intelligence, skills and abilities. 

Another example is the pretensions of ex-shareholders of the National Bank of Malta who expect courts to award them  hundred of millions of euros in compensation for what they believe that a Labour Government in 1973/74 expropriated from them without fair compensation.   Little do they heed the facts that a Labour government had to intervene to save the Bank from evident bankruptcy and at least protect depositors, creditors, borrowers and the general economy from  disaster while wiping out shareholders who carried the risk and allowed their bank to be mismanaged.    This happens all the time in Europe where not only shareholders have to carry the load but also in a priority order, subordinated and senior bondholders, creditors and in the end also uninsured deposits. 

The main challenge for Adrian Delia, as new way (?) leader, is to extract the PN from this sense of false superiority and accept once and for all that we are all Maltese with same rights and obligations.  Those who will not accept this reality have no place to be in politics.

Malta needs a strong and constructive opposition, that can be viewed as an alternative government thus keeping the executive on its toes.   There is no space in Maltese politics for attitudes as those exposed by the PN MEPs.   There is ample space for genuine PNers who really want to save their party from financial and political destruction.