The Malta Independent 25 February 2020, Tuesday

Efficient agencies?

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 13 February 2020, 08:00 Last update: about 13 days ago

The government set up agencies to run projects in the belief that they would operate more efficiently than government departments. Still in many cases, agencies were bound to observe public sector regulations in how for instance they entered into contracts or recruited employees. From a certain perspective, this makes sense: it ensures accountability and curbs abuses.

Meanwhile however, most of the project work to be carried out is outsourced to the private sector, and depends on designs and consultances also outsourced. It depends as well on the ability or otherwise of the chosen contractor to fulfill the contract entered into. Whenever the parameters set for the contract need to be altered, entailing a revision of its contents, there is a freeze on the work in progress till – in compliance with government regulations – the contract changes that have become necessary are authorised.

Thus an agency has to decide between two options: either it complies with regulations and the project faces big delays; or it just disregards regulations and proceeds with the project according to plan, committing scores of abuses on the way.

This is hardly a reasonable manner by which to get things done.



In reality, the scope of political discourse has increasingly turned managerial. It covers how matters should be dealt with – and hardly which matters should be prioritised.

Even in ecological discussions, related to environmental protection, real divergences between the traditional left and right tend to be few. Both sides can come out for or against any strategy of environmental protection in practically the same way.

Some say that this shift resulted from the collapse of the Soviet Union. In its wake, the left in the “West” too adopted free market liberal dogmas.

Yet, even when considering the political arguments being formulated in China, one finds that Communist dogma there seems to have become the listing of projects designed to promote economic growth, and not some profound transformation of society – which supposedly was the basis of the Communist project.



The corona virus epidemic which was slated to be less of a threat than SARS soon had caused more deaths than SARS.

As globalisation accelerated during the last twenty years, China became one of its leading engines. Contacts between people ... even across different continents... grew tremendously and spread. Was this why the corona virus spread so fast, or was it because the Chinese authorities did not establish in time, as they should have done, the necessary controls?

However the problem also is that in the context of globalisation, new protective and control measures could quickly generate disruptions, indeed panic, in the worldwide networks of contacts and businesses that are proliferating. If they get scrambled, the work relationships on which the global economy is based could also stall. Unemployment and disagreements between partners would result, prodding one and all towards a situation that could easily degenerate.

One might conclude from what is occurring that humankind has become more vulnerable to the emergence of new epidemics.  

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