The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

Towards a confidence budget

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 16 September 2019, 08:24 Last update: about 1 month ago

When one re-reads, as I just did, the pre-budget document published not so long ago, one confirms that the confidence being felt in the economy and finances of the country is justified.

During the next two years, economic growth is expected to continue at the ongoing rate, unprecedented as it is. The indications are that the public income and outgo will continue to sustain enough fiscal space to enable the government to carry out change and modernisation projects at full throttle.

ADVERTISEMENT

In this scenario that since Independence, has not been shared by any government, it still makes sense to be critical in the questions one poses.

For instance: In government's expenditure plans, is sufficient account being taken of the need to increase recurrent expenditure on the maintenance and repair of facilities that are undergoing significant deterioration, basically because of the very strong growth that we are experiencing?

Is our natural and cultural environment being adequately protected?

Have we become too dependent on services that are ending up under international "attack", not least from EU member states?

Is the educational system turning out young people who are really well trained, for now and for the future, in those sectors which we claim to want to develop?

***

Challenges for Helena

A double challenge faces Helena Dalli with the equality portfolio she's been assigned in the von der Meyer college of European Commissioners.

How will she provide structure and momentum to the efforts she shall lead within an EU that has become more not less hetereogenous, in the attitudes of people and in the behaviour of governments? How much moral and political backing can she mobilise to carry the required changes forward to completion?

It is true she can count on support from von der Leyen herself, who is wellknown for her own commitment to Equality policies. Will this be enough?

For there is that second challenge: Helena has been assigned limited administrative personnel within the Commission bureaucracy. Perhaps this happened because her responsibilities on a stand alone basis foreshadow a completely different way of doing things.

So, a comment made by the ETUC general secretary makes sense: He argued that Helena does not need to concentrate on the publication of new legal texts, which will anyway remain on paper. Better collaborate with the Commissioner responsible for employment affairs to ensure that the needed changes in how men and women get paid for the jobs they do are implemented in practice.

***

Gonzalez

The interview given a week ago to El Pais by Felipe Gonzalez, ex-Spanish Prime Minister for fourteen years, was most interesting.

He discussed present developments in the political and economic landscape of Europe and beyond. He claimed that the fundamental problem in how globalisation is being managed arises from the fact that the process is not sustainable. Meanwhile, rules by which international conduct used to be regulated, few as they are or were, have been ignored. The confrontation between China and the US is bound to become really acute.

In the past, I used to be a bit put off by Gonzalez for he was too loquacious. In this interveiw he had a lot to say but in concise terms. He decries the way by which Europe, which has originated so many innovations, then allowed others to take them over.


  • don't miss