The Malta Independent 3 December 2021, Friday

Economic growth

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 18 October 2021, 07:14 Last update: about 3 months ago

The success of the 2022 budget will depend crucially on economic growth, not just in Malta but also in the rest of Europe, since the Maltese economy is largely dependent on that of Europe. Growth forecasts are fluctuating between the “optimistic” and the cautious, not to say reserved.

The unexpected shock created by energy prices accounts only partially for this. In and of itself, it created the fear that other unexpected shocks could emerge. Then, there is still disquiet regarding how the pandemic could yet develop, even if the impact of the fourth “wave” of infections was weaker than had been expected.

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Meanwhile, prices that rose at a higher rate than we have become accustomed to created a new element of uncertainty – is it a temporary inflation that will fade away by itself, or shall it have a long life? What it is, one or the other, will determine whether interest rates will begin to recover.

Since we became EU members, our ties to the European economy have increased substantially. So, reflections of this sort about the European market have become very relevant from the Maltese perspective.

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FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Frankly, I am unconvinced that public transport free of charge  will attract many more people to use it, so that car traffic on our roads would start to decline. That reasoning follows from the idea that people do not board buses because of the cost. How true is this?

Whether justified or not, among the reasons which prevent people from using public transport  are the following inconveniences attached to the available service: lack of punctuality, disorderly management of how people enter and leave buses, delays caused by traffic jams along routes, insufficiently convenient route itineraries, failures to ensure personal security on buses...

Other reasons relate to how Maltese lifestyles have developed: one and all, we want to own a car and have gotten used to minimal walking...

How nice it would be were public transport to become again the predominant factor in how people move around. But I hardly see this happening because it is made free of charge.

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NOVEL WRITING

We have been told and will continue to hear no doubt about the behavoural changes in reading habits that contemporary society is undergoing as people interact with electronic means of comunication. Increasingly, people are getting used to reading all they wish to read in short bursts. If what they read is written in polemical format, all the better. And in short paragraphs built out of short sentences as well. They will overlook longer texts, having neither the time nor the patience for them.

Such a situation should be leading to the death of all literary prose. Nobody would have the time to read it, and even if it still gets pushed down the throats of secondary school pupls, they will surely end up detesting it.

However the fact is that more and more novels and prose works featuring personal experiences, historical studies and social phenomena are being written and getting published. Not just in Malta – elsewhere in other countries as well. And they are being bought and published. What is really going on? 

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