The Malta Independent 26 September 2023, Tuesday
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TMID Editorial: Malta’s economy - Recovery and the future

Monday, 11 January 2021, 07:54 Last update: about 4 years ago

The Covid-19 pandemic was one of those events nobody could have seen coming. As such, the impact on world economies was massive.

In Malta, the impact on the tourism industry had a ripple effect on many other sectors. Coupled with restrictions, businesses struggled. If it weren’t for government support, many thousands would be jobless.

The year ahead will not be an easy one, and recovering from the pandemic will be slow. The President of the Chamber of Commerce, David Xuereb, said that it will likely take around two to three years for the country to reach the economic levels seen in 2019.

There is little doubt that the road to recovery will be slow and it will take a while before people start travelling again.

There is also another factor which many are not considering. Xuereb said: "We do not know how long this vaccine will be able to protect us for. Even for those who are administered both doses, we do not know if they are protected for life or for a few months or years."

EU countries started inoculating people with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the shot’s approval under the brand name Comirnaty. The EMA website says, about this vaccine: “The company that markets Comirnaty, the first authorised COVID-19 vaccine in the EU, will continue to follow up the people vaccinated in its main clinical trial for 2 years. This will allow the company to gather information on the duration of protection generated by the vaccine.

This raises real questions as to what our reality will end up looking like.

The Prime Minister had said that he hopes to return to business as usual by May. This remains to be seen.

Indeed people might have less of a fear of contracting the virus once the vaccine is rolled out to everyone, but we do not know what the future holds. So far the vaccines, thankfully, still seem to have an effect on the Covid-19 variants. Hopefully they will continue to do so and restrictions will ease up once many more people are vaccinated. In turn, that will help businesses start to recover and recuperate. For the tourism industry, however, things will still be tricky for a while.

But the focus should not only be on making money again. Michael Briguglio, in his column published on The Malta Independent, highlighted the launch of the Wellbeing Index Project by the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society in collaboration with the University of Malta. “This project will serve as a repository of information which will provide evidence on wellbeing to policymakers and politicians. The project will go beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measurement of society’s wellbeing.” He said that society requires benchmarks of wellbeing in areas such as physical and mental health, family and social interaction, levels of education and skills, expression and engagement, and environmental quality and open spaces.

Prior to Covid-19, the country was too focused on growing the economy and not focused enough on anything else. The pandemic has taught us just how important other aspects in life are, such as the environment we live in, our physical fitness, our family and friends, and the struggle against loneliness.

The country is waking up to a new reality, one where just growing the economy at the expense of everything else might not fly anymore.

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