Alfred Sant is making his parting shots as his political career comes to an end. In his latest interview, he said that Malta would have been better off if it hadn’t joined the EU, and heaped praise on Joseph Muscat. To say that he is wrong is an understatement, but I will try and be polite.
Alfred Sant began his time as leader of the Labour Party in 1992 with the promise to clean the Labour Party and initially, he did keep his promise. He formed a commission to investigate past wrongdoings by previous Labour ministers that eventually led to the expulsion of Lorry Sant from the Party. Yet, despite cleaning the party from some of its worst elements that were responsible for a myriad of crimes in the 1980s, Alfred Sant empowered the wrong people. His consistent and gross errors of judgment on the many people he promoted to senior positions in the Party were partly the cause of why the Labour Party went to the dogs. He still insists he was right about everything he said and did in his political career: just like a true psychopath.
I was still a young boy when Alfred Sant came up with the most genius move in Maltese politics ever: to organise a meeting in front of the gates of the Dockyard, and right there, in a bout of anger, insult Dom Mintoff as a traitor. Until this day, it is still one of the events of my childhood that still lingers on in my memory in perfectly detailed pictures and voices: all of the South of Malta was shocked and scandalised. No one saw this coming. The current Labour leader accuses its founder and great hero as “a traitor”. I grew up in the South of Malta where Mintoff was looked up to as a demi-God, so Sant’s war against Mintoff was the quickest way for him to destroy his chance of ever winning another general election. Sant went on to lose every single general election after then, spending the next twenty years as Leader of the Opposition.
The Labour Party was a wreck when he was its leader. The only thing which made him special was that he wasn’t corrupt, but other than that, he was unfit for purpose. It’s crazy to think that our political standards are so low that a politician is considered to be great just because he isn’t corrupt.
So, apart from heaping praise on his previous propagandist, Joseph Muscat, Sant also claimed that had Malta not joined the EU, we would have been much better off. This is hilarious, but it is also a testament to his lack of knowledge of basic economics. The man has a management degree, and speaks confidently about economics, only that his economic knowledge is mostly derived from 1970s management textbooks and socialist literature. Sant has literally no idea what he is talking about.
If Malta hadn’t joined the EU, the consequences of last year’s inflationary phenomenon would have been catastrophic, not to mention that fiscal and monetary problems would have been serious if not critical. Having your own currency in a small and debt-dependant economy is suicide these days, and thankfully we have the Euro which covers us in many ways. Given that we are in the Eurozone, Malta has the backing of ECB’s liquidity provisions and its debt can grow to a significant extent without being a fiscal problem as we would still find buyers for our debt. If we didn’t have the Euro, inflation would have been much higher and we would have had serious fiscal constraints. For example, if we had our own currency, we would have had huge limitations in issuing subsidies when the economy was shut down during Covid, unless we would have wanted to crash our currency and become a Venezuela.
Just to give you some context of how difficult it is to maintain a sovereign currency during these times, please take a look at the Norwegian Krone, for example. A year to date, the Norwegian Krone is 15% down against the Euro. This is a currency which supposedly should be going strong against the Euro due to Norway’s increased energy exports to Europe, and yet, despite this fact, the Euro is still winning against the Krone. The Swedish Krona is down 8% against the Euro year to date. The Israeli Shekel is down against the Euro by 12% year to date. Only the Polish Zloty is up against the Euro having appreciated by 2.5% in one year, however, Poland is a very fastly growing sizable economy and one of the leading horses in economic growth in Europe right now, and its case is rather exceptional.
Alfred Sant has no idea what he is talking about.