Monday, 16 September 2013

Confused opposition

"The agreement reached between Malta and China last Wednesday will make Malta lose its independence in the generation of energy, PN leader Simon Busuttil said this morning."

This was stated by Dr Simon Busuttil, Leader of the Opposition, yesterday when giving the Sunday sermon on Radio 101.

Where is the logic?   How is Malta losing its independence in energy generation if the what we are talking about is a minority shareholding equity participation in Enemalta?

And if the Leader of the Opposition is worried that even a minority position could compromise our strategic control over energy generation and distribution, why was he not similarly worried when:

  • Our sole airport which is our main link with the outside world was privatised in full to foreign private enterprise
  • When Maltacom, Malta's primary and legacy telecom service provider,  was privatised in full beyond the 40% minority float launched by Labour in 1998.
  • When Mid-Med Bank, which controls over 40% of our banking sector, was privatised in full to foreign ownership in 1999.
  • When gas importation, storage and distribution was given to 100% owned private interests.
Airport services, telecoms, banking and gas supplies are critical operations over which many governments would not let go of control unless they were pretty certain that no private sector dominant position resulted through privatisation.    In all sectors the PN government privatised and created private sector dominant positions which are being or could be used to generate monopolistic profits at the expense of consumers in particular  and the economy in general.

The correct reaction for the announced deal being negotiated with the Chinese for a minority position in Enemalta should have been positive with reservations until the full details of the negotiations become known.    By government keeping a controlling stake over Enemalta there is no question of the PL doing the same errors done by the PN, over and over again, in passing on to private interests dominant positions in essential and strategic services.

It should be viewed favourably because:

  • fresh equity capital by foreign shareholders taking a minority interest in Enemalta would be the first real steps to address the weak financial structure of this strategic corporation which unless nursed to financial health could infect the public sector's general finances with its malady.
  • outside minority shareholders will impose strict governance standards to ensure that the Corporation is run both efficiently and transparently.  No way the scandalous absence of governance uncovered by the NAO could have been possible if minority shareholders had a stake in the Corporation with representation on its board.
  • the minority equity stake is reportedly linked to opening of international business opportunities which on its own Enemalta has never exploited and could never exploit.  On the contrary under the PN the limited exposure to 'exports' Enemalta had through MOBC was run aground.  Thankfully MOBC is being revived.
Why does the Leader of the Opposition prefer to bestow on his Party the perception of spoilers and bitter losers rather than learn from the last election defeat, accept it as a fair payment for their faults, learn from their mistakes and just move forward in the national interest?

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