Sunday, 8 April 2001

The Messenger`s Messenger

The Sunday Times of Malta

The Editor,

Dear Sir,

The messenger`s messenger

Minister Prof, Josef Bonnici (Voodoo statistics, The Times 7th April; Shooting the messenger 8th April) mistook me for one of his junior economics students in offering a theoretical lesson on the need to convert nominal GDP figures into Purchasing Power Units for consistent comparable measurement of standard of living. He can save such lessons for his classroom.

He also questions my credentials for maintaining that Malta could well not be eligible for `objective one` funding upon EU accession in the next enlargement which will embrace poorer countries that will lower substantially the EU GDP average and increase exponentially the claims for regional funding. Prof Bonnici is the last person who can criticise anybody`s credentials on the subject of EU funding.` He is the one who most emphatically promised Lm100 million in pre-accession funds before last elections.

I am always open for persuasion on any opportunities presented for improving our living standards. In fact I repeatedly make the point that whatever relations we may choose to have with the EU is subsidiary to the ultimate objective of achieving better living standards through such relationship.

As to my talking Eurostat out of any statistics which would make us eligible for structural funds I will need to make as much effort as anyone has made to convince the EU not to send us the Lm100 million Prof Bonnici promised us before the last elections.

Instead I would go for the third option.` I stand the test of time and continue to maintain that if Cyprus and Slovenia are out of `objective one` so will Malta miss that objective.

And no,` I have not criticised the messenger (Eurostat) for stating that Malta`s GDP in PPP units is 52% of the current EU average. I criticised the messenger`s messenger (MIC) for downplaying the caution attached to lack of comparability of Malta`s statistics due to use of different methodologies and for failing to make the slightest effort to give the average which would result in the context of an enlarged EU.` I stand by my criticism which I am confident will stand the test of time.

Yours sincerely,

Alfred Mifsud

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