Friday, 15 September 2000

Celebrate or Repent

The Malta Independent

Celeberate or Repent

Next week Malta celebrates the 36th anniversary of its Independence.` Rather than celebrate I think it would be more appropriate to repent our actions these last twenty odd years.` Twenty odd years where short termism and wasteful compromises brought us to a state where the sustainability of our independence is being questioned.

The first fifteen years after independence were a post-event period when as a nation we truly worked to concretise the fragile political meaning independence was given on that eventful night in 1964.

Hard decisions were taken which brought about a metamorphosis in the economic scenario shifting the island economy from one dependent on military spending to one developing on its own steam, attracting` foreign direct investment in export oriented manufacturing and service activities. All this was crowned in 1979 with the dismantling of the military base.

These last twenty years we have been more like rebels in search of a cause.` The virtues of work and efficiency were gradually allowed to change into vices of unsustainable consumption and money no problem frame of mind. Foreign investment in noticeable by its absence. Local investment was mainly directed to an over-development in real estate creating environmental and economic sustainability problems. The political scenario has been rendered into a permanent election campaign with half the population` feeling left out, perpetrating the divide in this classless homogeneous nation and leading to ill-afforded waste of human resources.

A debt free economy has been turned` into a debt-laden economy. Our taxes are merely being thrown down the big-black fiscal hole without serious infrastructural investment being undertaken. Without such investment` the` economy remains deprived of seriously needed new impetus.. The dismal state of our road network is a mere symptom of the root of this problem.

The present administration which has been in office for these last twenty years bar periods of 5 and 2 years where Labour was an ineffective government either through perverse electoral mandate` or through internal squabbles.` The Nationalist administration celebrates independence with religious fundamentalism on one hand, whilst with the other hand it practically admits` its unsustainability by pushing Malta towards a one way no alternative` road to EU membership.

The most forceful,` practical though unacceptable argument, which genuine down to earth pro-EU persons make,` is that this country have been rendered undisciplined and practically ungovernable by its political class and we need the stick of an external agent to help us put our house in order. This argument accepts the failure of our experience as an independent nation island state.

For those who like me firmly believe in the sustainability, indeed prosperity, of Malta as a truly independent state, this` Independence Day should be a day to repent our mistakes and pledge to restore efficiency, savings, measured consumption and well thought private direct investment as the basis of economic growth.` University professors who prefer to perpetuate the left and right divide rather than offer this country the pragmatic solution to its real problems just expose how their academic cosy life has detached them from problems of the real world.

Alfred Mifsud

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