The Malta Independent 24 May 2017, Wednesday

Once again - financial services

Alfred Sant Thursday, 18 May 2017, 07:48 Last update: about 6 days ago

One understands why during an election campaign, a certain prudence should be maintained when discussing future policies regarding financial services in Malta. Or better: regarding the framework within which financial services should be promoted. Still, one expects that basic guidelines within which they will be run in future would be laid out beforehand at such a time.

Unfortunately, there are aspects of this crucial sector about which we have gone overboard with nonsensical allegations that have continually been made, from here and there. Loose talk immediately triggers negative rebounds. Politicians – but not only them – have transgressed most in this respect. Professional operators in the sector mostly remained tongue tied; when at the end they do speak, it is difficult to understand from what they say, why they failed to do so before.

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In the nineties of the previous century, the PN administration had proposed a radical reform of the financial services framework. I was wary. Lino Spiteri persuaded me the change would be done in full respect of the requirement that no loopholes would be allowed for money laundering and tax evasion. Karmenu Mifusd Bonnici had insisted this would not be possible. But in line with his character – that of a gentleman – in Parliament, he defended the decision with intelligence and wisdom, once it had been taken.

As of now, we need to update the financial services model that we have promoted in this country. We need to do this with a commitment togreater transparency and diligence. Otherwise we’ll be projected as trying to con the rest of Europe. There are lobbies in Brussels which are already playing this game. It creates problems for us all, whether we vote Labour or PN.

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Macron

Emmanuel Macron made a very good impression during his investiture ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris as President of France. One cannot but wish him the best of success.

I would do so especially because his “optimistic” campaign succeeded to flow with the rhythms of citizens’ expectations.

Even so, I remain somewhat sceptical about future prospects.

The reality in Europe is that some are faring well to very well; others are doing badly to very badly. Among the former too, there are people who still feel they have lost a portion of their satisfaction with life. Macron succeeded to mobilise them. Will he succeed in keeping them onside?

And will he succeed to placate those in the less well-off categories, or will he discover that their number is increasing?

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At Montrouge

Last week, in the Parisian commune of Montrouge I underwent an unusual experience.

In 1976, I had written a play “In the Shadow of the Cathedral”which Joe Friggieri put on and directed at the University Theatre. I never saw that production for at the time I was still living in the US.

It was now produced in Montrouge and for the first time, I went to see it being performed. The script was adapted in parts to align the situation with contemporary realities. But all that was essential in the original text, or almost, stayed unchanged. The actors were good, indeed very good; so was the direction, by Anne Berelowitch.

With the passage of forty years, the guy who then wrote the text is no longer the “I” of today. But suddenly, as the show progressed, I could remember everything about how the different parts got written and why they were written the way they were. It’s an incredible experience. No matter how many years will have passed, some memories remain... even if you have forgotten them. 

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