The Malta Independent 17 August 2019, Saturday

Leaving people in the dark

Noel Grima Sunday, 20 January 2019, 09:30 Last update: about 8 months ago

I don't usually watch Xarabank but I made an exception this week and watched the one featuring Adrian Delia.

I can say that, by the end, I do not regret not watching the Xarabank programmes and hopefully will stop myself from watching any more in the future.

It was, to put it simply, an Adrian Delia-sponsored programme. Delia is a forceful speaker with long answers to short questions, obviously rehearsed, and Peppi's questions never looked like unsettling him. Peppi came across as wanting to empathise with Delia.

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Worse was to come in the second part, with a discussion by four guests. There was no one from the anti-Delia faction, though seeing the prevalence of comments by anonymous sources in the anti-Delia stories in the media, I would not be surprised if people from the anti-Delia faction refused to go on the programme.

I know, however, that people critical of Delia did appear on other programmes, although as far as I know they did not have to face a rabble posturing as an audience as happened on Xarabank. One such person was Godfrey Grima who, in other times, has taken part in a post-election panel after another PN defeat at the polls.

The programme did not enlighten the viewers and the format of rapid questions and replies, that were always cut off, did not help at all.

I have this  reservation about most of the current events programmes viewed in Malta: they tend to focus on the irrelevant and follow what interests the sponsors rather than giving the Maltese viewers their money's worth on the really important issues of the moment.

Right now, from the top of my head, I can list at least three issues that are of vital interest to the people of Malta and about which there is an abysmal lack of knowledge around us.

The first issue is the real state of our economy and its future configuration. It is true that we have had some very good years but are we certain they will continue in the future? All around us, the boom years are coming to an end and we must prepare ourselves for what might happen.

Are we sure that the current expansion of construction can go on for ever? Are we certain that we can continue to take people in, even when the economic boom begins to slow down?

And, as revealed on Friday, are we sure we can continue with the government spending less and less but enforcing tax collection even at the expense of the people at the lower end of the scale.

The second issue is Brexit - after this hugely dramatic week. I find that people in Malta do follow what is happening but have no exposure to the issues and the alternatives at play.

We have been kept relatively unperturbed through the whole Brexit saga, almost as if it should not concern us at all. But it does concern us - not least because the promised inflow of British people and companies that were said to be heading for Malta have simply not materialised. We seem to be very confident that a No Deal Brexit, with all the accompanying chaos at ports and airports, will not happen, not even as the result of miscalculation.

A third issue about which we are almost completely uninformed is the state of the world's economy as a result of the trade war between the US and China. We may be - we are - tiny minnows in this vast sea but that is precisely the reason why we may be impacted whatever happens: precisely because we are minnows.

Compared to these issues, and more, what happens to Adrian Delia and the Nationalist Party, about which I find that many people get exercised, or Joseph Muscat and his merry men, are storms in a pond.

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