The Malta Independent 12 May 2021, Wednesday

Electoral races

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 3 May 2021, 07:32 Last update: about 9 days ago

We all agree that the best way by which Malta should be run is in democratic mode. It is not generally accepted though that in a small community like ours, where we all practically know each other, democracy directly shapes personal behaviour.

For the better? In a way that is for sure, since at the end, it guarantees that authoritarianism will not end up always on top. At some time or other, when enough people get fed up with it, they can send authoritarians packing.

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On the other hand though, when the popularity of this or that politician needs to be kept going, the most “natural” procedure by which to solve the problem goes by way of acceding to the demands of voters whose support is at stake. Quite soon, this develops into a fully fledged system by which to dispense goodies.

As of now, there has been no one to propose how such a system can be put into reverse. All those who argue that what needs to be done is for politicians to renounce any recourse to clientelism, have not yet indicated how, after doing so, they would remain electorally viable. For by and large, in our democracy, those who have worked on such lines were not re-elected. 

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FOREIGNERS IN MALTA

In recent times, there were many to complain about the number of foreigners who came to live and work in Malta. As at the end of 2019, at least some 28 percent of full-time workers in Malta were foreign. That makes for quite a substantial number.

But it was not the first time this happened. Few are aware of the fact that when its first foundations and buildings were being laid, Valletta as a new city could be built so fast because many construction workers were imported from Sicily. During the almost two centuries and a half that they stayed in Malta, the Knights of St John themselves maintained soldiers, retainers and slaves as well as other dependents who in all amounted to a substantial foreign contingent.

Then, the British government, having decided to run Malta as a fortress, stationed here lots of soldiers, some with their families. Tourism later became one of the economic pillars of the island’s economic development, and brought to the country hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors, though admittedly they would only stay for a short while.

What makes the contemporary swell of foreign arrivals different from the previous ones is that they came to take up productive employment – which was not really the case for soliders and tourists. 

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MONEY LAUNDERING

Our financial institutions are at last giving ever increasing attention to the demands set by the ongoing efforts against money laundering. Over the years, these efforts were being stepped up in Europe and the US even if from here, we seem not to have noticed so much that this was happening. The issue can hardly be sidelined any more.

So, complicated regulations that elsewhere were introduced year in year out ... and meanwhile getting progressively more complex... have now had to be introduced quite suddenly. In their abruptness, they are being felt as very tough since they clamp down on how many were acccustomed to do business.

However there is no other alternative except that of unfailingly implementing anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. It is a good thing that the Council of Europe’s Moneyval system has accepted that Malta is now implementing such regulations and has given due recognition to how this is being done.

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