The Malta Independent 21 September 2021, Tuesday

Journalism and responsibilities

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 13 September 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 8 days ago

Frequently, we get messaged about the importance of journalism in our lives and how in the exercise of their profession, journalists deserve to be accorded full protection and full freedom when carrying out their tasks. One can only agree unreservedly with such statements. Truly, journalism is a fundamental pillar of democracy.

Still, like all other services rendered, its implementation also brings with it responsibilities. About this, we do not hear much. For instance, what commitment should journalism show towards factual reporting? How should this commitment be registered?

ADVERTISEMENT

Moreover, what criteria should be followed to ensure that in reports, a clear distinction is maintained between what constitutes comment and what are facts? Or should there be no criteria at all in this respect?

When “independent” journalism gets glorified, would it not make sense for statements that refer to this status to be accompanied by information displaying the financial and other support which such journalism relies on to keep going?

***

BREXIT IMPACTS

It’s going to be pretty difficult in the years to come, for one to arrive at a good assessment of what the impact of Brexit has been on the European and British economies. The pandemic has intervened with its separate impact and the two ongoing processes have been mixing and merging.

Is there some way by which their separate effects could be distinguished from each other?

There is no doubt that academic researchers will be devising economic models that allow them to deduce how affairs happened and are continuing to happen in direct relation to each of the two processes, as they developed alongside each other. But I would doubt whether such models can inspire sufficient confidence about present and future scenarios among decision makers dealing with strategic investment and similar choices.

Unfortunately the two impacts have not only contributed in a big way to the emergence of current uncertainties, but through their interactions, they have created a third source of uncertainty.   

***

TAXATION LEVELS

The debates that frequently arise about taxation concern the need for the introduction across all countries of a minimum level of tax on corporate profits. This would reduce tax competition between countries that helps companies – especially the very big ones – to avoid having to pay their tax dues. The same line of thinking also covers the need to have companies that operate in more than one country publish their turnover and profits in each country where they do business.

It is hard to criticise this point of view, unless from the perspective that it is serving to push all countries into the same posture by way of how, what and who they tax.

Still, the further point needs to be made in the sense that an account should be given regarding the taxes that are being collected. What percentage of the Gross Domestic Product do they amount to country by country? On what are they being spent? And with what outcomes?

I’ve been wondering for quite a while now, how such questions are rarely raised by those who exert huge pressures to ensure that taxation levels within the EU are brought to equivalent levels. But what would be the appropriate levels? And how are they going to be chosen?

  • don't miss