The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

Worse

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 29 June 2020, 07:04 Last update: about 14 days ago

There is a point that continues to be made whenever a forecast is published about how the economic situation will develop as a result of this crisis, and for sure it does make for worry. All such forecasts start from the premise that the one which preceded them reckoned that the approaching recession would be less biting than how “now” it actually is turning out to be.

Organizations like the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the Economist Intelligence Unit were among those which  had to acknowledge that this happened with their forecasts.

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So the point then becomes that unfortunately one must fear that even the most recent updates they are bringing us will encounter the same fate. The way forward could end up even tougher than they are predicting.

The lockjam we are in amounts to an economic experience for which there is no precedent. Even when compared with the economic disaster of the 1930’s, it must be immediately said that the events of that decade had origins and developed in ways that were starkly different to what we are witnessing these days.

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PR

Public relations (the so-called PR) have come to determine too much the decisions that are taken and how they are taken. You get told that this is part of marketing – of how to sell a deal. It applies to the disposal of any good or service on offer, which must reflect the approval or otherwise of the consumer, either as a buyer or as a simple citizen. By marketing well, you sell well.

Which is true. Only, in public policy making – and this too is for sure – there are decisions that no matter how one wraps them in PR, will still feel tough and create antagonism. No matter how useful they are, they will find people who in the search for popularity or to stoke opposition, will deride them as bad, stupid ... The modern means of communication are doing a much better job than their predecessors in getting such negative messages to spread effectively.

When tough but needed decisions are kept pending because PR cannot make them palatable, then you have a problem.

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WHAT RULES ARE THERE?

Up to some days ago I knew (or thought so) the behavioural rules that needed to be followed in public when entering shops, restaurants and so on – and similarly, the said rules would apply to the people you meet there, waiters, shopkeepers, whatever... They were rules that defined social distancing, when and how one needed to wear a face mask, what needed to be cleaned just before you got service...

Today I am not sure about all this. Rules are no longer being respected by all. Indeed, in short order, a substantial number of ordinary people and establishments have just been ignoring them. Face masks are not worn in shops, table surfaces in restaurants stay unwiped... By contrast though, you then find other places where the rules are being implemented to the letter.

However are the rules still in force? For there have been people to claim that once the state of public health emergency has been lifted, the rules no longer apply.

Yet the corona virus pandemic still rages, if not in Malta, then in the rest of Europe, from where shortly we should be greeting arrivals who reside there.

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