2008 has indeed opened with a bang. I am not referring to the displays of fireworks that marked the stroke of midnight in many countries around the world. I refer to the happenings that we have experienced in these few days.
Malta is now a Euro Country. This is a natural development of our accession to the European Community and a commitment we had negotiated and which we have now fulfilled.
As the Prime Minister has said, this is not about the pictures on the paper we use as a medium of exchange. This is about the economy. The Euro will bring considerable benefits to Malta which will eventually mean jobs and wealth creation.
There will be much more transparency in our prices as many Maltese would now be able to compare the prices they are paying for goods and services with those they pay when they are travelling in Europe and those they see advertised on European television stations.
Our international relationships will be much more streamlined as we talk the same currencies with our clients and our suppliers, being able at the same time to relate directly to our local cost structure which will be denominated in the same currency.
Hassle will be reduced from the financial transactions that are Euro denominated as will the conversion costs that used to chip into all the money movements that took place. The hassle that remains is that of the security freaks that with the excuse of fighting terrorism are nosing in the our privacy collecting data at the lowest possible level using it for God knows which end.
It is a fact that the Euro will need to be absorbed by the population at large. The people need to get used to it and need to start appreciated value which is now defined differently. We could up to now make instant judgement on the cost benefit of anything that cost one lira, or five liras or ten liras, and so on. We have now to make the same judgement on cost-benefit grappling with two Euros, ten Euros, 25 Euros, 50 Euros, etc. It will happen. The sooner the better.
But the biggest challenge will be our maintenance of an economic progress that is equivalent to that of the eurozone. Having the same currency implies having the same economic robustness. We are not a big economy but we are surely an economy that can perform. The key actions (not words), are innovation, flexibility, pragmatism and a user friendly bureaucracy. I would have the opportunity to delve deeper into these issues in future contributions.
It is far, far away from us. But the heart still aches to see the devastation, the genocide, the disorder and the misery that has converted what was being considered as a beacon of democracy and economic development in Africa to a tribal war zone.
This situation was evidently developing for some days before the final result of the election was announced by the electoral commission and which handed victory to the incumbent. Why do the “leaders” who go around the world, sitting at tables talking to each other not have taken some type of initiative to prevent this disaster? Why does a situation has to deteriorate to such proportions for them to start moving? As we face a new wave of refugees, a new ethnic cleansing exercise, another instance of human misery, we will soon be asked to send tents, food, medicines to alleviate the suffering. How about trying to prevent it?