Monday, 28 July 2003

It Did Not Take Long


It did not take long to confirm the point of my contribution of last week that all talk of resource driven budgeting was nothing more than a finger pointing exercise to shift the burden of guilt for a deficit in public finances that is spinning out of control.

The figures for the six months to June 2003 published late on Friday show the deficit at the mid-point reached Lm114 million compared to a full year’s budget deficit of Lm74 million. This is Lm36 million (+46%) more than corresponding figure of last year and more than double the Lm54million measured at the mid-point in the year 2001.

The deficit figure at this time last year was Lm78 million. By the end of the year it reached Lm88 million adding Lm10 million in the second half of the year on top of the extraordinary Lm21 million artificially structured from the MIA privatisation deal. In reality the deficit increased by a further Lm31 million in the second half of last year.

If this year we add Lm31 million to the mid-year position we would finish up with a deficit of Lm145 million. The Minister, in an unusual post-election bout of realism, admitted that this year’s budget will never be made, feebly tried to pin this on the slow economic growth when he well knows that the deficit problem is from the expenditure side, and predicted a 7% of GDP deficit for the year. As he predicted that the economy will this year grow by 4% in nominal terms, which is in line what he had predicted at the budget stage last November with a real growth of 2.5% and an inflation of under 2%, the year end revised projected deficit would work out at Lm120 million.

The difference between the revised Lm120 million and the above calculation of Lm145 million mainly relates to Lm22 million grant money from the EU and Italian financial protocols which considering the bureaucracy involved for making their drawing I would not bet much money about their realisation in this financial year.

Perhaps I should recall how I had criticised the budget last December in my three part budget analysis in The Times published between the 4th and the 6th December 2003.

‘The true deficit for next year is more like Lm113 million (as against the official Lm74million) and that only if new tax measures generating Lm6 million are announced out of budget. …..With this budget the Minister means to fudge the real issues and limp to the next election which will clearly come before the deficiency of the budget will have time to emerge.’

I was perfectly right wasn’t I?

It was clear then as it is clear now that the budget was put together artificially to look decent until the election. Expenditure did not overshoot the budget. The budget was purposely undershooting expenditure already committed to and now the truth is emerging with vengeance and I write it in block capitals.


The more worrying part is not the emergence of truth of where we stand but where are we going. The government has committed itself to so many financial obligations regarding EU membership especially the compliance costs and the price support measures for the agro sector and food importation, that one shudders to think where these funds are coming from given that economic growth is and is expected to remain anaemic.

Whichever way you look at it you will perfectly understand that the Minister of Finance needs to share the blame with his colleagues and needs to insist on the enforcement of the culture of resource driven budgeting.

Twelve years too late Mr Minister!


Strategy 1 No Risk Lm1004.5654
Strategy 2 Medium Risk Lm 998.360 (after Lm40 charges)
Strategy 3 High Risk Lm Lm 1034.55 (after Lm20 charges)
Strategy 4 High Risk For Currency . Lm 1012.460 (after Lm40charges)

All prices and rates of exchange are the latest available on Saturday 26th July.

To recapitulate we started on 1st June by investing Lm1000 each in four different strategies with difference risk profiles.

Strategy 1 is a straight bank deposit earning interest at 3.5%p.a.

Strategy 2 is a balanced strategy investing 50% in international investment grade bonds and 50% in international equities with currencies weighted according to the Lm basket.

Strategy 3 invests in local equities. So far the investment has been completely in Maltacom plc.

Strategy 4 invests in international equities, 25% each in GBP sterling equities fund, EUR Eurostoxx50 equity fund, USD Biotech fund, and Yen Japanese equity fund. All funds are of UBS.

Equities registered progress during the week as Maltacom continued its climb now at 95c0 as against the 90c0 we invested at. International equities were also pretty stable this week and finished in the
US on a high note which is not yet reflected in the quoted prices. The Balanced Funds retreated slightly as bonds are becoming under pressure given that there is more perception that interest rate cuts are probably consigned to history for the foreseeable future as the US economy is throwing up consistent signs of gearing up for revival.

No changes were made to the portfolio.

Sunday, 27 July 2003

Pax Americana or bi-Polar World

The Malta Independent on Sunday 

This is basic the dilemma facing the EU as it strives to adopt a common foreign and security policy.

The North Continental West European members of the EU, particularly France and Germany, seem to have a vision of a bi-polar world where Europe unites and offers a counter-balance to the over concentration of military and economic strengths currently in America’s hands.

Britain, Spain, Italy and most of the new East European candidate members prefer a vision of Pax Americana. They see the EU as an integral component of NATO where American leadership can depend on EU support to impose an American view on the world.

This division of opinion was exposed in an unmistakeable way by the war of Iraq. The USA did not find the support of France and Germany to do war on Saddam and with France enjoying a veto in the UN security council the US was forced to proceed to war without UN approval and outside the NATO shield. They did so with Britain’s active support, and with the endorsement of Spain, Italy and the 10 east European candidate countries who have joined or are expecting to join NATO.

With Malta joining Ireland, Sweden and Austria as the fourth neutral EU member state which vision of the EU are we to encourage?

It is almost natural to suggest that in line with our neutrality provisions we should be quite neutral about the issue and let others sort this out for themselves. However as members of the international community and as Europeans in the wider context beyond the boundaries of the EU we should probably have a natural preference for the bi-polar world.

A world where the current US domination in economic and military power is matched by development of the EU into a strong economic region sharing a common reserve currency matching the holding attraction as that currently commanded by the dollar. Where the EU’s military and defence powers would make the US share the role of acting like justice for the world, helping the EU to take direct control of the Mediterranean and its immediate neighbourhood to ensure an orderly neighbourly relationship and the establishment of peace in the region.

Although the US would probably discourage developments in this direction, stressing the importance of preserving the strong trans-Atlantic structure they dominate and echoing Blair’s view that the EU should hold hands as the junior partner of the US in administering a Pax Americana solution for the world, it is quite probable that the time will come where the process of the EU giving shape to a bi-polar world becomes unstoppable and indeed desirable.

As the US is discovering in Iraq, it is much more difficult to win peace than to win war. Much more resources are needed and for much longer period in order to fabricate a stable structure that could guarantee some sort of peace and democracy in Iraq than was actually needed to topple a long standing dictator and invade the land.

Iraq is absorbing such a high percentage of the available resources of the mighty US defence machine, that constraint is created in their handling other delicate situations which tend to emerge with monotonous regularity in a world where peace remains an elusive butterfly. With the US and British troops inextricably committed to nursing Iraq painfully back to normality as understood in western democracy terms, other more imminent turbulences, such as the nuclear threats from North Korea or civil war in Liberia, raise their head at a time when the US cannot seriously threaten military discipline with its resources so much committed elsewhere.

Even in economic terms the US could well be manufacturing an explosive situation where guns and butter cannot co-exist and the American people will be called to tighten their belt to finance the great military cost of imposing their peace on far away regions of the world. Huge balance of payments deficits and sharp deterioration in public budget over the last 3 years cannot be a sustainable alternative and will ultimately translate itself into a sharp reduction in the value of the US$ as happened under Carter in 1978 when the bills from the Vietnam war had left a huge hole in US finances.

Would the US electorate be prepared to pay for the cost of exporting the American dream by tight-belt taxation, in Bush Sr.’s read my lips style, and higher interest rates that may have to be imposed on a fragile economy still trying to recover from the fallout of the tech bubble? Probably the attraction of a bi-polar world where the EU would share the responsibilities and the cost of a super-power role will not remain so unattractive to US strategists. And having a super-power that shares their basic concepts of democracy would be much more attractive for US interests than the situation of bi-polarism during the cold war.

What would be challenging is the attraction of democratic Russia to one of the poles in order to prepare for the inevitable emergence of a third pole as China achieves economic weight and political power.

In an emerging multi-polar world our neutrality could regain the significance it has lost in the current scenario of American domination of international politics. Hence why I am inclined to disagree to any changes in the Constitution to tailor it to current circumstances. Circumstances change and continuous constitutional changes are too onerous. It is the interpretation that needs to be adapted to the emerging circumstances.

Iwahhlu f'xulxin


F’dal-granet mistennija johrogu il-figuri dwar il-finanzi tal-gvern sa Gunju 2003, jigifieri ghall-ewwel nofs tas-sena. Milli rajna dan l-ahhar jidher li l-figuri tal-wahx li hargu sa Mejju aktarx ikomplu jihzienu f’Gunju.

Ghax f’dan il-granet rajna l-Ministru tal-Finanzi johrog fil-pubbliku ilum lil-kapijiet tac-civil li ma jafux kif jikkontrolla l-infiq u li ghandu jkollhom krejattivitabiex jaraw x’soluzzjonijiet hemm biex inaqqsu n-nefqa tal-gvern. Qallhom li hu ma jridx li jkollu jzid it-taxxi u mbaghad iwahhlu fih u jibqamaghruf bhal l-Ministru tat-taxxi.

Dan m’hu xejn ghajr loghob bil-bzallu. Ghax il-kapijiet tac-civil ma jaghmlux ghajr li jsegwu il-politika tal-gvern u jekk jonfqu jonfqu skond din il-politika u skond l-ordnijiet tal-Minsitri rispettivi.

Li rajna f’dal granet bil-Ministru tal-Finanzi jinsisti li l-kapitjiet tac-civil ma jikkommettux ruhom ghal-10% tan-nefqa ppjanata huwa biss loghob ghal gallarija biex il-Ministru ma jerfghax wahdu id-dizastru tal-finanzi u juri kif dan id-dizastru jahtu ghalih il-Ministru shabu u mhux hu.

Ghalina jistghu idumu jwahhlu f’xulxin kemm iridu. Ghalina jekk hux tort ta’ John Dalli jew tal-Ministri shabu li l-finanzi tal-gvern hzienu daqstant huwa pjuttost irrilevanti. Ghalina huma baskjet wiehed u t-tort huwa taghhom u l-htija jaraw huma kif ser jaqsmuha.

Izda il-problema hija li hu ta’ min hu t-tort il-piz ser jaqafuq il-poplu Malti. Jekk id-deficit ta’ din is-sena flok is-Lm70 miljun ippjanati jispicca mal Lm120 miljun kif jidher ( dejjem jekk ma jivvintawx xi tbazwira ohra bhal Lm21 miljun tal-MIA tas-sena ‘l ohra) dan se jkun piz fuq il-poplu Malti. Jew jizdied id-dejn nazzjonali b’dan l-ammont jew irridu inbieghu xi haga biex naghmlu tajjeb ghalih. Forsi jidher li din is-sena se nbieghu il-Lottu. U il-gid tal-poplu biex jaghmel tajjeb dejjem jonqos u jitnaqqar.

U l-gvern dejjem johrog aktar bonds u l-poplu kultant bla sens jew bla ghazla jmur jixtrihom avolja jorbtuh ghal zmien twil hafna, dan l-ahhar 20 sena, bl-imghaxijiet baxxi li jezistu llum.

U nibqghu sejrin hekk bla ma nindirizzaw il-problema u nzidu dejn u l-piz kull sena b’rata hafna aktar milli tikber l-ekonomija sa ma fl-ahhar……. jigrilna bhal gemel li ghabbejnilu fuq li ghabbejnilu u fl-ahhar ghotor taht il-piz tatibna.

U dan ikollna niffacjawh meta eventwalment taqafuqna id-dixxiplina tas-sistema tal-munita unika ewropeja il-Euro, ghax decizjonijiet iebsin jigu mposti fuqna u mhux nehduhom ahna.

Ga qedin f’din is-sitwazzjoni rigward ir-rati ta’ l-imghax fejn qed ikollna nimxu skond kif mixja id-dinja. S’issa il-gvern gietu tajba ghax l-imghax fid-dinja tbaxxa u b’hekk jista jissellef b’irhis. Izda l-imghax mhux ser jibqabaxx ghal dejjem. Fl-ahhar idur u jghola u l-gvern irid u ma jridx anke jekk ikollna ekonomija mghaxxa ikollu jgholli l-imghaxijiet skond kif jgholew barra.

Izda eventwalment id-dixxiplina taqafuqna wkoll fuq id-daqs tad-deficit u nigu mgeghla jew inzidu t-taxxi jew innaqqsu n-nefqa jew nipprivatizzaw izjed ha jkollna x’jaghmel u naraw il-gawhar tal-pajjiz jizvintaw quddiem ghajnejna.

Bhalissa qed naraw pajiz b’sahhtu bhal Germanja iduq l-imrar tatraskuragni tal-passat. Pajjiz fejn in-negozju naqas, il-qaghad zdied u qed f’xifer tadiflazzjoni li tistatfisser problemi kbar ghal girien taghhom ukoll. Il-piz tadan igorruh l-aktar il-haddiema u l-konsumaturi. Dan juri li mir-regoli ta’ l-ekonomija hadd m’hu eskluz lanqas gganti kbar. Ir-rejalta tista ddewwimha izda ma tistax tahrabha ghal dejjem.

Pajjizna mil-gvern mhux ezercizzju takif wiehed ser iwahhal fl-iehor irid. Il-pajjiz jippretendi li l-gvern jerfa’ r-responsabbiltatieghu u mhux ikompli jitfa’ l-hmieg taht it-tapit halli uliedna ikollhom igorru il-piz li llum qed nittraskuraw.

Irid jara il-kabinett maghqud f’determinazzjoni biex tinqata l-hela u jsir ir-ristrutturar mehtieg halli nergghu ingibu sanitafil-finanzi tal-pajjiz qabel ma jkun tard wisq.

Friday, 25 July 2003

MIA's Unusual Great Expectations

The Malta Independent 
Something unusual though not unexpected happened at Malta International Airport.

Unusual in that it is quite extraordinary for the Prime Minister and a Senior Government Minister to publicly express doubt about proper corporate governance in the allocation of a perfumery shop at MIA by a company that though privatised is still 60% owned by Maltese investors two-thirds of which by the government itself.

Not unexpected because the way the privatisation deal was structured it gave to the 40% equity held by foreign-dominated consortium a management agreement through which it has substantial, if not total, freedom to take operative decisions; even to pay themselves substantial management fees thus recovering with the left hand the original investment made with the right hand, before operating profits are available for distribution among all shareholders.

This is probably what the I T Minister meant when he said that government could not intervene in a case where there was a minority shareholding of 40% and all decisions of an administrative and financial measure were taken by the management. Note that the board of directors, where the government has representation even if a minority one, does not take such decisions. These are taken by the management which is totally controlled by the foreign dominated consortium.

One can understand better now why at the IPO stage the government could get a premium price for disposal of 40% cum management agreement but only at the expense of the value of the remaining 60% which are now quite powerless regarding the company’s operations.

It also explains why the 20% issued for public subscription last November are already trading at 8% discount when the MSE index is 3% higher than it was last November.

I am not privy to the full details of the case. It was reported that a concession was given by the Manager to a new tenant that is somehow related to one of the shareholders in the investment consortium without a process of fair and open bidding. However the fact that both the prime Minister and the Minister for IT felt it necessary to pronounce themselves so explicitly on this case even whilst the matter is being disputed in court indicates that there is serious concern on the way this national monopoly is being run by foreign operators who have been given total control through a minority investment.

And government’s interest in this case comes at various levels. As 40% shareholder in the company it has every right to ensure that the company is run with highest standards of corporate governance as only in this way can minority shareholders rights be protected.

If the manager is not adhering to the expected levels of corporate governance then surely the Board of the Company has to have the right to pull up the manager to protect the reputation of the organisation. Or has boardroom control also been ceded to the minority shareholder? Have the directors representing government and small local shareholders given the manager the right to renew or cancel concession without fair and transparent bidding? Have we allowed a national monopoly to be run like a family business?

Government has interest in protecting the small private investors who now own 20% of the company’s equity.

But government has also the broader interest to ensure that privatised companies, especially when they still enjoy monopoly rights, adopt the highest levels of corporate governance and not take any easy route to recover their investment by favouring themselves as managers and fellow investors as shareholders to the detriment of the remaining shareholders that among them still form a majority but whose effective rights where compromised through the management agreement. This same defective model was used at Maltapost. Should we await great expectations there too? 

Thursday, 24 July 2003

Ghal Kollox Hemm Hinu

L-ahhar artiklu li ktibt hmistax ilu, hawn min ma ghogbux. Mhux ghax xi hadd seta’ jmeri li ktibt. Izda ghax hawn min jahseb li billi nzommu l-kritika go fina u ma nurux fejn l-affarijiet marru hazin u ghaliex, b’daqshekk ser insahhu l-partit.

Lil dawn nirrispetta il-fehma taghhom u naghraf il-genwinita’ tal-hsieb taghhom. Naccetta il-kritika taghhom daqskemm naccetta l-inkoraggiment ta’ dawk li jghiduli li jien nesprimi sewwa dak li lilhom ikun qed ikiddhom u b’hekk nohloq kuxjenza dwar dawk il-problemi.

F’dak kollu li naghmlu ghandu jkollna biss ghan wiehed. L-ghan li l-partit laburista jiehu l-post li jixraqlu fil-gvern biex minn hemm ikun jista’ jiddefendi l-interessi tal-haddiema u ta’ dawk li jappoggjawh.

Mill-oppozizzjoni, anke jekk ikollna 49.999%, l-ebda partit politiku ma jista jwettaq xoghlu sewwa. Jekk idum fl-oppozizzjoni ghal zmien twil partit politiku jista’ jsir irrilevanti.

F’dak li naghmlu ma ghandniex inharsu lejn l-ucuh.  Inharsu lejn l-interess tal-Partit li jista’ jkun espress biss b’rebha elettorali. Ghalhekk meta nghaddu minn esperjenza bhal ma ghaddejna f’April li ghadda, specjalment jekk din tkun ir-raba’ telfa minn hamsa u meta fl-unika darba li rbahna ma ssarrfet f’xejn u zvintat sew qabel zmienha, ma jkunx sewwa li nagixxu qisu ma gara xejn.

Fil-fatt gara hafna. Niltaqa’ ma hafna minnkom kuljum. Tesprimu id-dieqa li ma tistax tmur minn qalbkom. Donnu ma nistghux nifhmu ‘l kif u ‘l ghala. Min kien qed ibati baqa jbati jew gie jbati izjed. Nisma stejjer ta’ diskriminazzjoni tal-wahx kontra laburisti. Tista’ b’kuxjenza safja tagixxi qisu ma gara xejn? Tista’ tagixxi qisu biss tlifna l-karozza tal-linja u jekk noqghodu fuq l-istage hames snin ohra nirkbu fuq il-karozza li jmiss?

Inhoss li ma nistax. Hemm hin ghal kollox. L-elezzjoni li gejja ghada 5 snin il-boghod. Ghad hemm cans sewwa nikkritikaw il-gvern u nuru kemm huwa inkompetenti u ghajjien. Izda f’din l-ewwel sena il-prijorita’ hija li nduru dawra madwarna. Li nifhmu fejn zbaljajna. Li nibnu fuq pedamenti fis-sod.

Jekk ma nibnux pedamenti sodi issa, meta fil-futur nibdew nohorgu l-istrategiji taghna mibnija fuq pedamenti zopop jigri bhal ma gralna fl-ahhar elezzjoni. Li fl-ahhar nibdew nippanikjaw. Fl-ahhar naghmlu hafna decizjonijiet mghaggla. Hafna u-turns li jcekknu flok ikattru il-fiducja tan-nies fina.

Uhud flok imeru u jargumentaw fuq dak li nghid jien jippruvaw jattribwixxu mottivi hziena. Jippruvaw joqtlu l-messaggier flok jifhmu l-messagg. Fi kliem semplici jghidu li jien qed nikkritika ghax l-gheneb qares jew ghax ghandi ghal dak jew ghall-iehor.

Min jghid hekk ghax ma jafnix. Min jafni jaf li jien ma ridtx nohrog ghall-elezzjoni. Diga kont mitlub darbtejn ohra biex nohrog fl-1996 u fl-1998 u rrifjutajt. Ghedt iva biss wara t-telfa ta’ l-1998 ghax dehrli li kienet esperjenza qarsa mmens u ma ridtx li jkolli fuq il-kuxjenza li stajt ghamilt xi haga biex ma nergghux nghaddu minnha u ma ghamiltiex. Ghedt iva b’sens ta’ dover u kontra x-xewqa tal-familja.

Flok mort nahdem fid-distrett tieghi ghal hames snin domt tlett snin inservi lill-Partit b’mod ghal kollox volontarju mmexxi s-Super One ghax fhimt li tmexxija tajba hemm kienet importanti hafna ghall-Partit. Mhux talli ma thallastx, talli ttraskurajt il-professjoni biex inservi l-Partit fejn kont mitlub.

Jien nikkritika ghax nifhem li l-Partit jehtieg jibni fuq pedamenti sodi. Min jahseb b’qalbu aktar milli b’mohhu forsi ma jifhimnix u jhares lejja bl-ikrah. Izda xoghli naghmlu. Huwa hafna aktar difficli li taghmel xoghlok milli toqghod kwiet tistenna l-krizi imbaghad twahhal f’haddiehor.

Jien ma qbiltx li galadarba l-leader kien ser jerga’ jikkontesta, l-ghazla tal-mexxejja saret qabel ma saret analizi serja tar-rizultat ta’ l-elezzjoni. Jekk dan mhux kontra l-istatut certament huwa kontra r-raguni. M’hemm xejn fl-istatut li jorbot biz-zmien ta’ meta ssir l-elezzjoni tal-leadership wara kull elezzjoni. Ma kienx ikun floku allura kieku d-delegati nghataw din l-analizi biex imbaghad mgharrfin biha, ikunu jistghu jghazlu l-mexxejja fuq il-fatti u mhux fuq l-emozzjoni?

Tkellimt u ktibt internament dwar dan u ma wasalt imkien. Tajjeb kieku dawn il-problemi jigu rizolti b’diskussjoni interna. Izda x’taghmel jekk min ikollu l-poter li jbiddel ikollu kull interess biex ma jaqbilx? Qtajt qalbi li hemm rieda tajba biex jirbah is-sens komun. Hadt biss skuzi ta’ statut u proceduri li jiskartaw is-sustanza ta’ l-argument. X’jimporta li d-decizjoni ta’ l-elezzjoni ghal leadership qabel l-analizi saret mill-ezekuttiv fuq il-bazi li l-leader mhux ser jerga’ jikkontesta? X’jimporta li nigu mgieghla niehdu decizjonijiet daqstant importanti fuq premessi hziena?

Pedamenti sodi jitolbu li ssir analizi serja li tohrog r-responsabbilitajiet ghala rebha elettorali cara ddawret f’telfa kolossali. L-uniku interess tieghi huwa rebha elettorali bhal ta’ l-1996 u tmexxija fl-interess veru ta’ pajjizna fejn il-laburisti ma jibqghux it-tfal ta’ alla izghar. Min irid iwiegeb bl-argumenti mhux bil-kalunji. Jekk ma nkunux kontabbli bejnietna, min ser jemminna li fil-gvern inkunu ahjar min-nazzjonalisti permezz ta’ tmexxija bbazata fuq kontabilita’?

Rebha elettorali ma taqax f’hogrok wehidha. Trid tahdem ghaliha wara li tibni fuq is-sod. 

Monday, 21 July 2003

Resource Driven What


A new phrase has been coined. A great invention has been made. Great problems need great inventions and Malta’s public deficit is so great that it needed a masterly invention to be resolved.

And at last it arrived. John Dalli has unveiled his great plan for resolving what he created, or allowed to be created, in the 12 odd years he has been in charge of public finances.

Last week we were informed that Min Dalli has told the rest of the cabinet ministers and the top executives in the civil service that all expenditure has to be resource driven. A great new invention! A great discovery which needed a vintage of 12 years before the Minister could shout

Eureka arrived last week. So we now have it. The solution to our chronic public deficit is, we are told, resource driven expenditure.

Now resource driven expenditure is as old as the hills. My parents exercised it to perfection to raise a family of fourteen children and give us all the education we could absorb without ever going into a financial deficit. Most of our families are experts at it having to stretch miraculously the monthly cheque to meet the demands of modern life, be it mobile phones, cable TV, private lessons and exams fees for the kids, car repairs and insurances and so many increasing demands on a quite static salary income.
So what all this fuss about resource driven expenditure? In reality it is nothing more than a finger pointing exercise. The Minister has lost control over public expenditure and as the published figures for the first 5 months show, unless he thinks of some window dressing exercise as he did last year with Lm21 million from the MIA privatisation deal, his budget figures at the year end would be laughably inaccurate when compared to the real outturn.

So the Minister has started shifted the blame. Will anybody care or listen? Experience shows it is most unlikely. With a fresh election victory under their arm, cabinet collaboration is notably absent and Ministers are driving along their ego individual path without much concern on whether it would cause problems on their colleague in charge of the public purse.

The restructuring we have seen, like the Private Public Partnerships and creation of a multitude of autonomies agencies or regulators, irrespective of the clear positive deliverables some of them are producing, are certainly not gentle on their claims for public funding. If anything such re-structuring is increasing public expenditure in terms of multiples not just incrementally.

One dares to suspect that some Ministries are indeed doing their damn best to embarrass the finance minister hoping to put spokes in his wheel regarding his personal ambition to succeed to party leadership and prime-ministership when Dr Fenech Adami eventually decides it is time for him to go.

Public finance structural problems cannot be seriously addressed by inventing new phrases or by indulging in finger-pointing exercises. Rather than just resource driven it needs to be driven with the indispensable collegiality and determination from the Cabinet.


Strategy 1 No Risk Lm1003.994
Strategy 2 Medium Risk Lm 999.530 (after Lm40 charges)
Strategy 3 High Risk Lm Lm 1023.660 (after Lm20 charges)
Strategy 4 High Risk For Currency . Lm 1006.590 (after Lm40charges)

All prices and rates of exchange are the latest available on Saturday 19th July.

Strategy 3 moved ahead after several weeks trailing after Maltacom shares gained 4c0 to close at 94c0. There is still lost of mileage in this investment as I believe that the real value of these shares is in excess of Lm1.50c0 and as the pressure from foreign selling subsides, these shares will re-discover their true value.

Strategy 2 & 4 retreated from last week’s gains as international equities paused this week as bigger than expected corporate earnings are creating doubts on the sustainability of extremely low interest rates.

Sunday, 20 July 2003

X`inhi l-Verita?


Kemm huwa validu l-argument li jekk nibqghu nghidu l-verita`fl-ahhar nirbhu l-elezzjoni?

Biex tati risposta ghal din il-mistoqsija trid l-ewwel twiegeb mistoqsija ohra aktar semplici izda aktar difficli biex twegibha. X`inhija l-verita`? Hemm aktar minn verita` wahda? Hemm verita` li tidher mod ghal wiehed u tidher mod ghal iehor?

Fid-dinja fejn jghixu il-bnedmin, fejn mitt bnidem mitt fehma, certament li l-verita` mhix wahda ghal kulhadd. Dan jghodd l-aktar ghal futur li jibqa` incert ghax hadd ma ghandu abbilita` perfetta jipprevdi dak li ghad irid jigri. Hafna drabi jghodd ukoll ghal passat fejn fatti li jkunu ga graw u ghalhekk induskuttibli xorta jigu suggetti ghal interpretazzjonijiet diversi.

Niehdu b`ezempju il-gwerra ricenti ta` l-Iraq. Qabel il-gwerra l-inglizi u l-amerikani esponew bhala fatti taghrif li qalu li gabru mill-intelligence taghhom li pprezentaw bhala verita` sagrosanta li l-Iraq huwa theddida ghall-istabbilita` fir-regjun peress li kellu armi kimici u bijologici li jistghu jaghmlu hsara fuq bazi massiva. Hafna accettaw dan bhal verita` singulari anke ghax l-istampa kienet kulurita min fatti passati fejn Saddam kien uza armi bhal dawn fuq il-Kurdi fit-tramuntana ta` l-Iraq u fejn Saddam kien invada il-pajjiz girien tal-Kuwajt.

Ohrajn ma accetawx din il-verita` u l-verita ghalihom kienet li ghalkemm id-dinja tkun ahjar minghajr mexxejja bhal Saddam, hadd ma kellu jedd, specjalment bla awtorizzazzjnoi specifika tal-Gnus Maghquda, li jimponi permezz tal-gwerra il-verita` kif jaraha huwa fuq il-verita` kif jaraha haddiehor.

Anke llum li l-gwerra ghaddiet u saret tfittxija intensiva ghal dawn l-armi li baqghu ma nstabux xorta ghad ghandna veritajiet differenti. Verita ghal dawk li ghadhom isostnu li l-armi kienu hemm u li jew gew meqruda jew ghad jinstabu, u ohrajn li jghidu li l-kwistjoni ta` armi kienu kollha storja mmunatata biex issir gwerra li ma kienetx gustifikata.

X`irrid nghid? Irrid nghid li dment li bnedmin jibqghu bnedmin, qatt ma jista` jkun hemm verita wahda u assoluta. Anzi qed nghixu fi zmien fejn il-media tant sar ghandha poter tinfluwenza mohh in-nies li verita` saret dik li tidher u mhux dik li hi. Hudu l-aspett kummercjali. Immaginaw kemm jintefqu flus fir-reklamar biex jippromwovi certu brands li jghidulek kemm hi tajba din il-karozza, dan it-trab tal-hasil, din ix-xarba, din il-fwieha jew deodorant u tant affarijiet ohra ta` konsum.

F`hafna mir-reklamar iggeghluk temmen li hajtek ser titjib jekk tuza dan il-prodott mhux biss ghax huwa tajjeb izda ghax b`xi mod in-nies ser iharsulejk b`mod pozittiv talli qed tuzah. Ghahekk tara familja shiha kuntenta tidhaq waqt li qed tiekol l-ghagin li qed jigi rekamat. Tara nisa sbieh jiggennu wara xi guvni helu talli qed juza certu after shave. Issa nahseb li kullhadd jifhem li din mhux il-verita universali izda xorta mohh in-nies jigi influwenzat b`mod sottili tant li jixtru l-prodott reklamat anke jekk ikun izjed fil-prezz minn prodott tajjeb daqsu izda li mhux rekalamat.

Bl-ghajnuna tal-medja il-verita issir dik li tidher u mhux dik li hi tassew. L-istess fil-politika.

Filwaqt li nemmnu f`dak li nghidu ma nahsibx li jaghmel wisq gid jekk nassumu li ahna ghandna xi prerogattiva fuq il-verita`, li l-verita` specjalment rigward il-futur hija biss dik li nghidu ahna, u li haddiehor qed jidhaq bil-poplu u ghalhekk ma ghandna naghmlu xejn hlief inhallu l-poplu jinduna li haddiehor dahaq bih u li l-verita` hija fuq in-naha taghna.

Il-media tahdem u effettiv hafna fil-poltika biex iddawwar l-argumenti u l-verita` ssir dik li tidher u mhux dik li hi. Ejja niehdu l-argument ta` l-UE. Jekk fl-ewwel snin tas-shubija jigri li l-poplu tassew jigi maghfus meta nigu ghal elezzjoni ohra tahsbu li ser niehdu kredtu talli ahna konna nghidu li hemm futur ahjar barra mill-UE?

Anke jekk dik hija l-verita` xorta se jkun hemm media li zgur ser tahdem biex tinfluwenza mohh il-poplu biex jara bhala verita li l-ewwel snin bilfors kellhom ikunu iebsin izda li issa l-aghar ikun ghadda. Li minn issa `l quddiem il-poplu ghandu jistenna l-frott tal-hidma u s-sagrificcji li jkun ghamel u jizbalja jekk jibdel fehmtu f`nofs triq wara dawk is-sagrificcji li jkun ga ghamel.. Il-media tibda wkoll tittimbra mohh il-poplu li kieku bqajna barra is-sagrificcju kienu jkunu hafna akbar. Fejn hi l-verita`?

Il-verita` tkun dik li tidher u ghalhekk tkun dik li tigi mwassla bl-aktar mod effettiv mil-media tal-kampi poltici opposti fejn l-avversarji taghna ghandhom rizorsi ferm u ferm aktar minnha.

Ghalhekk ahna qeghdin fi zvantagg u dan l-izvantagg inkomplu nkabbruh jekk nibqghu nassumu li hemm verita` wahda u li fl-ahhar il-poplu wahdu jasal biex jaghraf il-verita assoluta taghna. Se nkunu ilna 21 sena fejn dan l-argument baqa ma wassalna mkien ghax ma fhimniex bizzejjed li fil-poltika il-verita` hi dik li tidher u mhux necessarjament dik li hi.  

Friday, 18 July 2003

Interim Landfill Terminal Damage

The Malta Independent 

Neglect leads to crisis. Crisis leads to panic. Panic leads to patch-ups. Patch-ups lead to interim solutions and permanent damage. That is the sorry story of waste management in Malta.

On a speck of this densely populated island, waste management is an environmental menace and challenge. It should be clear that the only real and lasting solution, regarding which we are a couple of decades late, depends on the successful implementation of the three R’s. Reduce, Re-use, and Re-cycle as it goes which is easier said than done as it needs a lot of investment in consumer education, unpleasant enforcement and top quality management.

Reduce involves the implementation of separation at source, at household level, to raise public awareness on the need to reduce waste by opting for the re-usable rather than the disposable, and to favour organic waste solutions over inorganic ones.

Re-use involves the creating of projects that could make immediate re-use of building waste. In an island which is too small for our ego it should be fairly simple to conclude that land reclamation projects should be ongoing, offering an immediate disposal point for the development generated building waste. The current practice of disposing out at sea of such waste generated by large waterfront projects is an offence against proper resource management.

Re-cycle should help to make optimum use of organic waste which hopefully, through an education programme, will largely replace the excessive quantity of inorganic waste which is harder and more expensive to re-cycle.

Yet because we have a fatigued administration that thinks that problems can be solved by report writing and pure positive talk, we are ‘blessed’ with a Maghtab that has disgraced our shoreline and contaminated our coastal sea water and we are now just about to create similar mini-dump sites next to one of the most prestigious pre-historic treasures.

It is evident that placing a dump site anywhere, whether engineered or just disgracefully disorganised, is going to meet the ire of whoever lives, works or has investment within a few miles radius. This means there is not a dot on this island where a dump-site could be placed without meeting resistance. If it is in the north it is within walking distance from some tourist location, hotel or attraction. If it is in the south it is adding to an overburdened region which already hosts our power stations, our dockyard, most of our industrial estates, sewage plant and organic waste re-cycling plant amongst other source of environmental menaces. If it is in the centre it is next to densely populated areas, cultural monuments or pre-historic treasures.

So clearly the aim should be to avoid the need to have any landfill, which is just euphemism for the traditional brash sounding dump, by the proper application of the 3 R’s concept.

This makes me wonder why Labour had to make us suffer so much by keeping in office a government that has largely lost control of the domestic situation and is constrained to panic emergency measure rather than the application of long-term solutions. The more people I meet, the more I realise that the electorate did not actually vote for this incompetence but for the desire to have discipline imposed on us by the EU.

Labour’s inability to smell the electoral risk of bundling the EU issue with the election outcome remains a strategic mistake of unpardonable proportions which constrains us to suffer the lethargy of an administration that has outlived its ability to remain vigilant and effective.

Monday, 14 July 2003

Risk Management - in Business as in Polictics


Risk management is nowadays a central part of business strategy. The speed of change has gone beyond anybody’s control. Experts are better at explaining why their forecasts did not materialise rather than in making accurate predictions about the future. And as the future is uncertain for all it is necessary for survival, let alone prosperity, to hedge risks.

Risks can never be totally eliminated, at least not at a commercially feasible cost, and therefore they are best managed. Take for example a portfolio invested for three years in the NASDAQ. The investor holds a view that over the next three years the economy will pick up and technology stocks will re-discover their sparkle. But he cannot be sure about it and there is the possibility that things will work quite differently. If this happens, when in three year’s time he has to cash out his investment, NASDAQ could be lower, much lower than its present level.

The investor has a choice. Either run the risk or manage the risk. If he runs the risk the maximum potential loss is 100% of his capital. If he manages the risk he could reduce this to a few percentage points. He could do so by buying an option to sell NASDAQ three years hence at today’s level. If NASDAQ shoots up the option is worth nothing and would expire without any value but the investor is happy because he would have made money on his investment from which profit he could afford the premium for the useless option. If NASDAQ boobs the option gains value. The more NASDAQ falls, the more value it gains mitigating any capital loss which would be incurred on the original investment. So for payment of a small premium to buy an option the risk of 100% loss is reduced to a few percentage points being the cost of the sell option without sacrificing the potential profit if NASDAQ performs as expected.

These risk management strategies in business are found in various forms. Even insurance cover is in itself a risk management tool especially if it extends beyond material damage to business interruption and professional liability. Foreign currency forward cover and options, interest rates swaps and options, future contracts for supplies of commodities, are all nowadays common financial tools to devise a proper risk management strategy.

The personal investor does not commonly use such strategies because the personal investor need not have a particular date when to cash the investment. It is quite normal for the personal investor to risk manage his investments primarily through diversification and secondly by staying invested as long as it takes for the investment cycle to turn to permit an exit at the top rather than through a take-it-as-it-comes exit strategy on a fixed date.

How does all this apply to politics? In politics the exit date, the judgement date, the day of reckoning is pretty well defined. It is the day of the general elections. Political parties work for five whole years devising policies, adopting media strategies, working out election campaigns tactics and so much more effort all pointed on the hope that on election day the majority of the electorate will back the party to gain government. A party that remains permanently in opposition even if commanding the following of a very large minority, is missing its objective and risking its existence. Let there be no doubt about this. Only through government can a political party reach its political objectives.

In politics the future is also uncertain. One adopts certain policies hoping that they gradually command majority following so that on Election Day the scales will tip in the party’s favour, but one cannot be too sure. In a political system where, by and large, the winner takes all, the losing party would be risking losing 100% of its political capital for the next 5 years. In the present context another 5 years for Labour could risk its existence. So next election presents far more risks for Labour than for the PN.

Are there any risk management tools that can help reduce, if not eliminate such risk for Labour regarding the general elections next due in 2008? The policies adopted are in themselves risk management tools. There are high risk policies and low risk policies. Totally risk-free policies have yet to be invented, unfortunately.

Labour seems to be building its strategy for next election on the premise that reality inside the EU will be a fountain of credibility for Labour and with the EU issue out of the way success is therefore practically guaranteed.

There is ambivalence in this position. While standing by the past, the future constrains Labour to adopt new policies of which it was severely critical in the past, even in allaharesqatt terms.

There is also the question that in politics perception is reality. The argument that if we always say the truth ultimately we will go to heaven has merits in religion. But politics is different. What matters is perception. As Tom Peters states in his In Search of Excellence in business, and I say as in politics, perception is reality.

So without ruling out that Labour policy stance could work out, it is certainly not without its risks, grave risks given the absolute need for survival for Labour to win next elections. I need not recall that if we miss next election we would condemn ourselves to more than a quarter century out of office given that the election after the next one will be due in 2013, well 26 years since we lost government in 1987.

Should Labour consider other risk managed solutions or should it risk it all on the premise that
Malta’s experience inside the EU will prove to the electorate that we were right and they were wrong?


Strategy 1 No Risk Lm1004.423
Strategy 2 Medium Risk Lm 1002.160 (after Lm40 charges)
Strategy 3 High Risk Lm Lm 969.110 (after Lm20 charges)
Strategy 4 High Risk For Currency . Lm 1017.210 (after Lm40charges)

All prices and rates of exchange are the latest available on Saturday 12th July.

Strategy 4, being the most the most aggressive one, moved sharply ahead during the week propelled by revived equity markets and strength of the USD and Yen on the foreign exchange markets. Similarly Strategy 2 registered progress but more limitedly given its medium risk profile.

Strategy 3 retreated as Maltacom dropped 1c0 on the local exchange although I still think that this strategy could perform better in the autumn months.

No changes were effected to the portfolios.

Sunday, 13 July 2003

Punishing Pensioners

The Malta Independent on Sunday 
Rather than a new spring in the first 100 days of the new government that are nearing their end, we have had the same old lethargy and an industrial dispute concerning public transport that has involved the adoption of a very distasteful industrial action measure targeted specifically on pensioners.

I am not in any way suggesting that the Transport Association or bus owners are in the wrong or that they should not resort to industrial measures. Any industrial measure will cause discomfort as it is only through such discomfort or pain that industrial action can achieve its purpose. But in adopting industrial measures the Association must ensure that it is not only used as a last resort but that it keeps public opinion sympathetic to its cause notwithstanding the comfort that it causes. Targeting the pensioners sector which society goes out of its way to protect in acknowledgement of their past contribution to the present state of well-being, is certainly not the right way to win over public opinion.

Beyond the immediate bickering, public transport remains a sore national wound that must be addressed with vigour and determination to produce real lasting solutions. It is therefore unfortunate that from time to time the operator and the regulator find themselves in conflict with almost monotonous regularity and that more often then not the solution found is merely temporary. In and of itself such short-term patching would by the source of future larger disputes.

In most cases solutions are based on increase in fare prices unmatched by a commensurate increase in the value of the service, forcing more and more people to give priority to acquisition and use of private transport. In turn this would aggravate the problem of traffic congestion and environmental degradation whilst at the same time compounding the commercial viability of the public transport operators. They often see their revenue suffering a net reduction as they lose out on volume what they try to obtain through fare increases. So every so often they come back for more and the whole process is given another turn in the spiral that drives more and more users away from public transport leaving under 18’s and pensioners as the main users of such transport as a matter of necessity rather than choice.

True solutions to the public transport issue must take the problem outside the narrow parameters is has been consistently confined to. The matter has to be seen as a national problem concerning non-users as much as forced users.

The ultimate solution must reach a destination point that any fare increases must be well-out-weighed by an increase in the service value. And this cannot come about by the mere investment in new buses, though this of course remains a crucial part of the improved service quality necessary to revive public transport. We have to go much further.

Users of public transport have to start using it as a matter of choice not necessity. For this to happen public transport must by re-positioned to score much better on convenience over the alternatives means of private transport.

Some of this is already happening by default rather than design. The difficult availability and cost of parking (either through much increased cost of fees or through warden’s penalties) is already building comparative advantages for public transport. If these could be enhanced by other measures, then we might eventually get to a true lasting and efficient solution.

These measures have to include comfort, convenience and consistency. Comfort comes not only from new configuration of both buses and equipment but also in the quality of service offered by the drivers in their being paid and trained for respecting the rights and intelligence of public transport users. In this day and age the move towards air-conditioning and improved safety through locking doors whilst in motion is a must for making the service a popular choice rather than a suffering experience that cannot be avoided.

Convenience has to be enhanced by extending both the hours of service (especially late into the night on particular routes) as much as the spread of the network to improve the point-to-point services rather than operate all connections through the Valletta terminal. Convenience has to be enhanced also by giving public transport priority access on our road network. This could be done by restricting, and in some cases eliminating, private transport access to our city and village centres and by providing priority bus lanes on the main arterial roads. This would give public transport the added convenience to get you to your destination quicker than using private means.

Consistency comes in ensuring that the quality of service is maintained through quality control checks as much as by staff training attracting to the service employees who would be proud of their jobs rather than be considered as the bottom layer of society who could not make it to any better position.

When we do all this than we can seriously consider some fare increases which would still preserve the cost comparative advantages of the public service. It could very well be that even when we manage to get there the price and volume increases would still not make the service a commercially viable enterprise.

It is here that the state has to step in with a fiscal policy that would make non-users contribute to make public transport a popular and viable transport means both for social and environmental reasons. We might come to a stage that once the consumer has a real option of a clean, consistent, comfortable and cost-effective public transport and still insists on using private means of transport, than fiscally he could be made to contribute for the up-keep of public transport.

Then users or non-users would have a real choice that currently our pensioners do not have as they are unjustly and unwisely being used by the public transport operators to further their case in defiance of public opinion.

Tfal ta` alla izghar


Kont ktibt artiklu b’dan it-titlu fil-KULLHADD tas-6 ta’ Frar 2000. L-argument kien li n-nazzjonalisti iharsu lejna l-laburisti u jarawna bhallikieku konna tfal ta’ alla izghar.

Jahsbu li l-laburisti gejjin minn xi razza inferjuri fejn ahna ma ghadnix dritt daqshom u dak li jghodd ghalihom ma jghoddx ghalina. Minn ghandna jippretendu li kollox jimxi preciz skond il-ligi filwaqt li huma l-ligijiet jistghu jghawguhom u jilwuhom kif iridu. F’dan isibu l-ghajnuna tax-xibka tal-poter li dejjem sostnithom. Xibka li dejjem rat kif ghamlet biex il-vizzji tan-nazzjonalisti jcekknuhom u l-virtujiet ikabbruhom. Bil-kontra il-virtujiet tal-laburisti icekknuhom u jonfhu l-vizzji u d-difetti li ghandna bhal ma ghandu kullhadd.

Aktar ma n-nazzjonalisti jdumu fil-gvern u aktar ma l-partit laburista jdum fl-oppozizzjoni dan is-sentiment jissahhah. Allura mill-ahhar elezzjoni ‘l hawn tistghu timmanaginaw kemm ckien ‘l alla tal-laburisti u kemm kibritlu rasu ‘l alla tan-nazzjonalisti.

Ghalhekk dehrli f’waqtu li nerga nikteb fuq dan is-suggett. Ghax il-verita’ hija li l-laburisti ahna ulied l-istess Alla. Ahna kapaci daqs u aktar minn haddiehor. Minn fostna hargu l-ahjar imhuh li jdawlu l-firmament ta’ l-intelletwali Maltin.

Izda sfortunatament konna ahna stess meta konna fil-gvern fis-sentejn neqsin ta’ bejn Ottubru 1996 sa Settemnru 1998 li sahhejna it-tezi li l-laburisti huma inferjuri. Flok ghamilna gustizzja mal-laburisti biex jiehdu dak li kienu gew ingustament imcahhda minnu, bdejna noqghodu attenti biex ma nghinux fid-deher lill-laburisti ghax inkella n-nazzjonalisti jghidu bina. Flok l-ewwel gibna parita’ bejn il-maltin kollha ridna li nimxu ma kullhadd l-istess meta l-laburisti kienu ilhom jigu diskrimanti disa’ snin. Ahna stess gibna l-laburisti li ma ghandhomx drittijiet bhan-nazzjonalisti li jigu protetti mill-gvern taghhom, u sahhahna l-fehma li l-alla taghna hu izghar minn tan-nazzjonalisti.

Dawn esperjenzi li jafhom kullhadd ghax wahda mir-ragunijiet li tlifna l-elezzjoni ta’ l-1998 kien propju habba li hafna laburisti homor skuri ma vvutawx bi protesta tal-mod kif mexa maghhom gvern laburista. Tant gie accettat dan li konna weghdna li meta nergghu nkunu fil-gvern ma naghmlux l-istess zball u l-gustizzja mal-laburisti ssir malajr halli nippruvaw bil-fatti li dak li jghodd ghan-nazzjonalisti jghodd ukoll ghal-laburisti. Nippruvaw li ma ahniex tfal ta’ alla izghar.

Izda nahseb li minn wara t-telfa elettorali ta’ April li ghadda dan it-twemmin li l-laburisti huma ulied alla izghar rega qabad l-gheruq sew. In-nazzjonalisti qed imexxu qishom il-laburisti ma jezistux u jippretendu li peress li ghandhom maggoranza, l-oppozizzjoni ghanda toqghod cicci bil-qeghda tara lilhom jirrenjaw u jaqsmu il-frott bejniethom. Meta ikun hemm xi glieda tkun xi wahda bejniethom fejn jitlewmu fuq kif ser jaqsmu. Hekk qed isir bhalissa rigward it-tender ghal-attrezzatura ta’ l-isptar il-gdid.

Izda ninkwieta meta ragunar bhal dan nergghu nibdew naccettawh ahna l-laburisti stess. Ghax ahna ghandna mohh daqs haddiehor. Ma ahniex bla mohh nacettaw kull ma jghidulna bla ma niggudikaw u nifhmu x’inhu sewwa u x’mhux.

Ghalhekk ninkwieta meta nisma lil min jghid li issa la tlifna l-elezzjoni li kien kien u li sar sar. Ninkwieta nisma min jirraguna li l-elezzjoni issa warajna u kull ma hemm bzonn huwa li noffru spazju lil-laburisti u lil kull min hu mdejjaq bin-nazzjonalisti ha jigu maghna ha nirbhu l-elezzjoni li gejja. Inweggha meta jghidu li t-tbengil tal-telfa ta’ l-elezzjoni issa beda jfiq u allura kollox rega gie ghan-normal u jekk naghmlu hekk zgur nirbhu l-elezzjoni li gejja.

L-elezzjonijiet ma jintrebhux hekk. Ma jintrebhux qisek qed tgholli munita u daqqa tigi wicc u daqqa tigi rgejjen u jekk tigi spiss rgejjen ma jkun gara xejn ghax wara ftit terga tigi wicc. L-elezzjonijiet mhumiex xi loghba tac-chance.

La l-partit qabbad li ssir analizi dwar ir-rizultat ta’ l-elezzjoni biex naraw kif u x’fatta gara li gara ma ghandniex ninsultaw l-intelligenza tal-laburisti billi ingibu ruhna bhallikieku din l-analizi qed issir ghalxejn. Ghandna nuru rispett lejn min qed jaghmel l-analizi, lejn il-Partit li qabbadhom u lejn il-laburisti li ghadom mugugha bit-telfa elettorali, billi nistennew ir-rizultat ta’ l-analizi qabel ma naghtu l-impressjoni li jghidu x’jghidu kollox ser jibqa’ kif inhu. Li m’hu se jkun hemm kontabbilita’ ta’ xejn.

Il-laburisti m’ahniex tfal ta’ alla izghar, ghandna mohh biex nahsbu daqs u aktar minn haddiehor u ma naccettawx li nigu trattati ta’ inferjuri la min-nazzjonalisti u wisq anqas minn taghna stess.