The Malta Independent 10 April 2020, Friday

TMID Editorial: Only hard work and tough decisions will take us back to normality

Thursday, 20 February 2020, 09:39 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Chamber of Commerce unveiled some very interesting proposals yesterday, aimed at turning Malta into a ‘smart sustainable island.’

The document warned, however, that a huge effort must be made to clean up the country’s reputation across the board and that reforms and changes must be implemented in as short a timeframe as possible.

Indeed, the conclusion of the document reads that “Malta needs to completely rebuild its credibility as an honest global player across all economic sectors.”

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While Economy Minister Silvio Schembri played down the effect that the recent political events had on Malta’s economy, the Chamber warned yesterday that, “the island suffered huge damage to its international reputation as a result of the mishandling of the Panama Papers scandal which went unchecked for years in spite of repeated calls, even by the Chamber, to take bold decisions eventually reached unprecedented heights with the outcome of investigations of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.”

Even Prime Minister Robert Abela said last Sunday that “the country has returned to normality,” but it seems that the many of the social partners believe otherwise. Normality can be achieved again, but a lot needs to be done for the country to get there.

The ongoing scandal within the police force has only reinforced the belief that democracy in Malta is flawed and that the rule of law is not working as it should be. The process to return to some semblance of ‘normality’ will not be an easy one – very hard decisions must be taken, political responsibility should be shouldered, and faulty entities and schemes should be rebuilt from the ground up. In another report in today’s The Malta Independent, Chamber President David Xuereb says that the Individual Investor Scheme must be changed – the revised scheme must be different to the existing one, he says. We believe that this concept should apply to other sectors too and should be exercised in the upcoming reform in the police force.

Nothing short of an earthquake within such institutions will suffice. Heads have to roll, and the politicians under whom these scandals took place should not be allowed anywhere near office.

Beyond the issue of corruption and good governance, the Chamber document includes some very interesting proposals. These include maximising the country’s productivity through better education and training and by attracting talented foreign workers.

It also makes two important observations which this newspaper has been making for months; the need to integrate a metro system in the Malta-Gozo tunnel project, and the disagreement with the widening of roads as a means to solve the traffic issue.

“The science is clear,” the Chamber said, noting that wider roads will only lead to an increase in cars. It urged the government to put people, and not cars, as the guiding principle in infrastructure investment. Its proposals include the prioritization of public transport and public-private partnerships to construct more underground car parks.

Like the ones included in its recent document on good governance, the Chamber’s proposals seem to be studied and drafted by people who know what they are talking about. Now it is up to the government to listen and opt for common sense.

 

 

 

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