The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

Job watch

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 15 August 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 7 months ago

At factories, hotels, restaurants, buses, hospitals... everywhere you find foreign workers.

So the question arises: Where do the Maltese actually work? For the truth is that unemployment stands at unprecedently low levels.

Here’s what a friend of mine claims: The Maltese do not wish to work in factories or hotels, even if well paid. They do not wish to be straitjacketed or having to work during the weekend.

According to him, Maltese who currently are looking for a job have mostly the inclination to go for the “security” sector. Apparently it is considered to provide easy work that with little endeavour, allows you to live your own life.

I have not yet had the opportunity to check whether this rather cynical observation is correct. Still, I remember how not so many years ago, many would opt to go for the job of “watchman”.


Fiscal space

In the eurozone, dilemmas that have been present for a long while, persist. There seems to be no quick way out.

As of now, the fear is that economic growth in the area will decline greatly. The need is for the state agents that regulate the economy to move the available expansionary levers.

That is what the European Central Bank has been doing, using the tools at its disposal. It has managed to reduce the interest expense on lending to the extent that today, bank depositors should expect to lose out on the real value of their placements. It is difficult to accept such a situation. However other alternatives would be worse.

Still, another method exists by which to loosen the economic situation. Governments could spend more, at the risk of carrying a bigger budget deficit. Increased public expenditures would boost economic activity.  Governments would be using what is called their “fiscal space” to achieve economic goals.

Eurozone rules at present put enormous constraints on how governments can make use of their available fiscal space, as well as on the extent to which they should do so. Consequently, governments are not playing this game. Meanwhile, in its strategy to revive the eurozone economy, the European Central Bank has practically exhausted the effectiveness of the toolbox at its disposal.  


Saint Mary

It’s another St Mary’s feast day: a good number of festas are celebrated in diverse villages; and it’s mid-summer, which is known as the season of good fun – even if all seasons now seem to have become entertainment platforms... Such are the observations usually traded as one celebrates the feast.

What still surprises me about contemporary festas is how many people really do enjoy finding themselves jampacked under a boiling sun in a big crowd, where dominate the smells of sweat, deodorant and alcohol, mostly beer. A long while ago, I used to believe that it was mostly young people who could actively take part in activities like morning parades (although those held in the evening can also proceed under a blanket of atrocious heat).

No, no. Of course, many young people take part in parades. But by their side, there also assemble men and women of a riper age, as well as old people. Actually it seems that the latter have become more numerous with time.     


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