The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Too many corps

Alfred Sant Monday, 5 November 2018, 07:45 Last update: about 10 days ago

The fashion is in full swing – here, as well as in other European countries – for agencies and other government corporations to be set up in order to operate as regulatory authorities, or as guardians over issues of ethical conduct and management, or as defenders of such or such rights, as well as anyway, for many other matters.

Other larger countries might afford to keep all such corporations running. In a small island like ours, the more we onload them, the greater will be the probability that they’ll just be creating their own mix-ups. Instead of better transparency and accountability, they will be generating confusion, immobilism, and indifference among the public at large. As for me, I’ve lost track of how many ombusdsmen in exercise we have right now. And I well remember the long drawn out controversies that took place before the first ombudsman got to be nominated.

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In the face of this spreading presence of corps, the government should begin to think about how to rationalise them.

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And when reviewing government sorps...

...one must mention the now elderly people who prior to 1979 were on the books of some labour corps or of Enemalta or some other corporation. They still contact me to ask whether there is going to be any compensation for what they consider to have been an injustice in their regard. No matter in which labour or other corps they were placed when contracted as workers during the first half of the 1970s, post 1979 some of them were left without the social benefits extended to comrades of theirs who happened to have been placed in some other sector of the public administration.

Successive governmentspromised them compensation but for many of them, this has remained a half baked proposition. Their number has been declining and will continue to do so. Yet, they have a genuine case.

I read through the finance minister’s budget speech once or twice. As was appropriate, the problems of ex-British service employees were covered but I could not discover a reference to the problems of those who served in the “corps”. It is not right to give them the cold shoulder – and this at a time when providentially, their justified claims can be met without in any way putting public finances at risk.

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Changing views

Up to not so long ago, much criticism used to be addressed at the European Central Bank’s policy labelled “quantitative easing”. On its basis, the Bank would buy billions of safe debentures from financial markets so as pump more liquidity into the European economy. This pushed down the price of money and promoted economic growth.

ECB governor Mario Draghi kept insisting that the policy was needed to boost economic growth in Europe, where growth was lagging significantly behind that of other continents where after all, central banks were implementing quantitative easing.

As a result of its implementation or for other reasons, in fact the eurozone succeeded in improving its economic growth rates. Finally, Draghi accepted to gradually taper quantitative easing off completely by the end of this year.

In the meantime, economic growth in Europe has again decelerated as uncertainties built up. Now, voices havebeen and are being raised to recommend that the quantitative easing policy gets rolled over! 

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