Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Economic growth is everybody's business

Read this from The Times on line today:

"The Nationalist Party said it could not participate in the Action Committee for Economic Growth.
The PN said its parliamentary group had discussed the invitation, made to former finance minister Tonio Fenech but it could not accept because Mr Fenech would have been expected to act as a consultant to the government. This went against the constitutional role of the Opposition in a parliamentary democracy.
 The PN said it was committed to contributing constructively for Malta's constitutional, economic, social, and cultural development, as was already shown in the Budget debate."
It is strange that the PN parliamentary group has decided  this when the leadership election is due next week.   For prudence sake one would have expected them to allow the elected leader to have the final say on such matter rather than have his hands tied before he is elected.

Are the PN saying that the Opposition has no duty to assist government achieve economic growth?   Yet they declare their wish to contribute constructively for economic development.    It seems contradictory.

Long term policies for economic growth are very much the business of the party in Opposition.   As an alternative government they should wish to influence the economic scenario they would one day find when the wheels of democratic alternation places the responsibility of governing back on their shoulders.

Economic growth requires productive investments.   And even the best and most calibrated investments will take several years to analyse, plan and execute and several more years after that to start delivering the expected returns.

If PL in opposition had adopted the same reasoning when the PN in government wanted its co-operation to develop the financial services industry on the basis of consensus, we would not have the successes registered to date in this sector.

The government is there to govern for the term of the legislature.  The Opposition is there to constructively oppose and watch over the government.   But this should not stop government and opposition working together especially on policies which span several legislatures and where consistency is needed especially in the eyes of foreign investors who demand stability of policies irrespective of which party is in charge from time to time to execute them.

I still remember when in the heat of the summer of 1998 in my role as Chairman of Mid-Med Bank we were working with HSBC on the IPO on international marketsof the then Maltacom .   The instability of Mintoff voting against the Labour government in parliament started undoing the good work we had done in the roadshows with foreign investors.

I organised a conference call with such investors and invited Mr John Dalli, then the main opposition spokesman for  the economy and finance, to re-assure investors that if there a change of government the IPO terms would be honoured.    John Dalli did not think twice accepting and helped us save the IPO from failure.

The country's interest should come above those of any political party.  Economic growth is everybody's business.

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