Finally, I had the time to flip through my emails, and while doing so I found several interesting PRs which I had regrettably. missed. Most particular, I found the PR of the Chamber of Commerce that was sent during Malta’s severe power outages. I don’t think I ever remember the Chamber of Commerce issuing such a strongly-worded statement in my lifetime. Apart from causing the deaths of 21 people, the power outages caused a considerable amount of economic damage and this scenario may be soon repeated with another heat wave in August. The Chamber of Commerce has recently, called for an urgent meeting of the MCESD following a theatrical meeting where the Chairman of the MCESD, David Xuereb attended a cabinet meeting so that the government could fraudulently proclaim that it had the support of the business community.
The country is going through multiple crises, but the Labour government’s energy is mostly focused on defrauding the nation and playing theatre to hide the extent of the damage and corruption. The desperation to get out of our Banana Republic status will only keep increasing.
FFS, we are at the stage where we are debating the security of our supply of electricity. This is not normal.
PRESS RELEASE 20th July 2023
Governing under an illusion
The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry is seriously concerned with the current state of play and the way our country is being governed. The recent power cuts that happened in the past days and hours are a series of events which clearly show lack of vison and planning. We feel that certain sectors, which are crucial for the economy, are suffering not only from the lack of action but sometimes the decisions taken are not in the general interest. The country is clearly in shambles and unfortunately the government is failing to read the signs of times.
Lack of proper leadership, shortsightedness, indecisiveness, lack of transparency, partisan interests over the long-term national interest, declining productivity and attractiveness are some of the signals that are putting in jeopardy the economy and the well-being of the country. The time for patched and short-term quick fixes is well over.
Year-on-year, we continue talking about the same matters in multiple fora, but the general situation continues to deteriorate with the result of a continuing damage to the development of the country. Some of the issues that we constantly speak about are;
1. Energy. Ensure reliable security of electricity supply. The recent power cuts that happened over the past days and managed by Enemalta who is the country’s main energy distribution has impacted heavily the business community and the public at large. In the past months and years, In February 2022, Enemalta announced an investment of €90 million to upgrade its distribution infrastructure, yet the businesses community and the public at large are left in the dark and as result suffering from extensive damages to their property, income and wellbeing.
2. Construction: Licensing legislation, even the most basic, without enforcement is toothless. The country cannot afford another death.
3. Mobility. Raise cost of car licenses and introduce a parking fee in central urban areas with costs feeding into an E-Mobility Wallet with discounted prices for sustainable means of transport, supplemented with funds allocated for free public transport scheme.
4. Public Sector: Consolidate Government action on schemes addressing departmental silos, delays, lack of transparency through an integrated e-portal and ensure a level playing field.
5. Demographics: Control increase in population through a Skills Forecasting while regulating temping agencies against modern slavery practices. The present economic model that requires an annual addition in population of around 20,000 persons annually is unsustainable and is pushing the country’s infrastructure, on various fronts, to breaking point.
6. Subsidies: Direct such to low-income families and towards supporting mindset changes.
7. Reforms: Bite the bullet on long standing reforms such as planning, justice, ports and education.
8. Productivity: Mitigating productivity with more numbers at a reduced output is not an option, as much as lowering educational levels to improve statistics is incongruent.
The country’s leadership needs to make the right choices at the right time with the right mindset. We can’t afford to do one step forward and two steps backwards.
Given the current circumstances, the government should only be assisting businesses that are doing things the right way. It needs to move away from its micro-minded approach because, in the meantime, it is missing the wood for the trees.
Although the GDP may be growing, the country is not nimble enough to address its priorities. We need to overcome the illusion that because we are small, we only need to attract a small portion of the business from the global economy to succeed. The Malta Chamber urges the government not to keep putting its head in the sand but act now before it is too late.