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On Malta’s economic success, parties choose non-confrontational stance

Minister for the economy and Opposition counterpart express 'a common interest' in the economic vision for Malta

Gabriel Schembri
8 December 2015, 8:46am
Chris Cardona and Claudio Grech on Reporter
Chris Cardona and Claudio Grech on Reporter
Both Labour’s minster for the economy and his Opposition counterpart have expressed common direction in their economic vision for Malta, with shadow minister Claudio Grech saying that nobody should “talk down on their country” when it comes to the economy.

Grech defended himself from suggestions that the PN’s economy blueprint which he authored was replete with buzzwords that provided little much by way of economic direction.

“The language used in the document is also aimed at potential investors looking to invest in Malta,” Grech told Saviour Balzan on TVM’s Reporter. “I looked at the economic strategy of 27 different countries, both in the EU and outside, to build this document… Its basis is the premise that the economy is doing well,” he said, while insisting that politicians should serve as enablers, and that political parties “do not create the economy”.

Economy Minister Chris Cardona praised the document presented by the Nationalist Party, and agreed on the fact that politicians should serve as facilitators. “I think the document is very positive and the are good ideas, some of which will be implemented by the government in the future. We need more documents like this one,” he said.

Grech was also non-confrontational about the vicissitudes of the De La Rue workers, where 300 will lose their jobs despite a €21 million invest in technology. “It’s not the government’s fault, but a result of global competition,” Grech said.

He also conceded that former administrations had focused too much on knowledge-based sectors like financial services and gaming – which are in themselves large contributors to the economy – but not to sectors that employ low-income earners, whose salary is not growing in the same way as the economy. “Our document aims to address this while keeping the quality of the economic growth high.”

Cardona said that Malta must compete with emerging economies that are unrestricted by EU laws, when asked whether a living wage should be introduced. But Cardona suggested that a living wage might scare off potential investors in Malta.

Asked to react to what would happen should the financial and gaming sectors vanish, Grech said that the PN would do whatever possible to keep the local fiscal system in place, saying that Malta’s tax sovereignty could not be compromised.

Cardona took issue with Simon Busuttil’s claim in the document that he does not “want to live in a playground for the rich.”

“We introduced free child care centres, lowered income tax and electricity bills… so I think this statement does not do justice to what is realistically happening in this country. There is nothing wrong with having a country full of people with a high standard of living,” he said.