Friday, 29 December 2000

Biting Dust

The Malta Independent

Biting Dust

Another year is about to bite the dust.` For those of us lucky enough to have survived it , it is time to reflect on what sort of year this has been for our country.

Frankly I feel that this has been largely wasted time with priorities inverted in an illogical way.` (Un)Fortunately ours is a small economy where Government`s actions or inactions make a marked influence on the success or otherwise in economic terms of the year under review.

Yet government`s actions throughout the year have demonstrated that it is not concerned with resolution of the country`s real problem. Instead it keeps insisting on making EU membership an objective on its own merit,` rather than a means for achieving the real ultimate objective. The ultimate goal of providing` this` nation with a sustainable economic growth` founded on a` production capacity for goods and services marketable in a ferociously competitive world.

So whilst we keep trumpeting that we are first or second in` the queue of applicant countries our real problems remain obstinately unresolved. We keep biting pollution dust even whilst walking straight.` Public transport remains unsuitable for a third world country even though its resolution could make a quantum leap difference of quality to our daily lives. Waste management is indeed a misnomer. It should be referred to as Wasteful Mismanagement.

Resources continue to be simply burned up in the air.` The efficiency on the revenue side of the government`s fiscal accounts is unmatched with any similar improvement in controlling the expenditure side.` This inevitably leads to waste of scarce financial resources which are sent down the budgetary black hole.

Our under-utilised and overpaid resources in the public sector remain untrained for a real job in the real world and no motivation is given to move resources in this direction. On the contrary the public sector continues to take on new employees without seeking to make optimum use of those already at its disposal.` Opportunities for maximising national resources are simply allowed to pass us by.

Just take what other countries, much richer and more resourceful, are doing with their mobile 3G licences. They auctioned their airwaves and brought in billions.` In Malta we gave them away for free to redeem a monopoly given to a private operator who could and should have been handled differently in the national interest.

Rather than seek national consensus on resolution of these national problems, a consensus which should be quite easily negotiated, we keep pushing blindfolded forward into the EU divisive issue making it the final` destination rather than a vehicle to such destination.

The EU issue could and should be handled after the next general election when the electorate decision will be final and conclusive. This is very much in line with what the EU itself prefers as the risk of losing a referendum on EU membership on this side of the election could put off the EU issue for an inordinate length of time. It would` narrow our negotiating tools for achieving the eventual route chosen by the electorate.

My great wish` for 2001 is for this country to get its priorities right and not let such priorities be dictated by personal agendas of influential individuals. This takes leadership qualities which are noticeable by their absence.

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