Malta Chamber urges politicians to ‘lead by example’

Calling for full independence of public entities, Malta Chamber urges people in public office to lead by example and take the moral high ground

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil at an event organised by the Chamber in 2016 (Photo: Ray Attard)
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil at an event organised by the Chamber in 2016 (Photo: Ray Attard)

In a pre-electoral document presented to the country’s political leaders, the Malta Chamber called on people in public office, to lead by example and take the indisputable moral high ground against dubious practices.  

The Chamber’s pre-electoral proposals documents says that politicians are elected for five-year terms and their outlook is short-term.

“Business and investment has a longer time-span and politicians must ensure that their work and their actions are complementary to that of entrepreneurs who have a longer vision and strive for a legacy that outlives them.”

The Chamber presented the document which is titled “Policy Proposals for a Competitiveness-centred Electoral Manifesto” to the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and the Leader of the Opposition Simon Busuttil in separate meetings. In all, the document proposes 71 concrete deliverables split in to 12 chapters, each tackling an important aspect of Malta’s economy.

With the country’s institutions, including the police and the attorney general coming under increased public scrutiny over their handling of the alleged corruption scandal involving the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, the Chamber called for independent and functioning institutions.   

The Chamber called on a new government to ensure “full independence of public entities from any direct or indirect political interference while enacting all the necessary constitutional reforms to strengthen governance.”

The Chamber also expressed concern on the unprecedented increases in the public sector’s wage bill and explained that apart from the obvious effect this was having on the public purse, this was also exerting undue pressure on the private sector which was struggling to fill vacancies.

The document called on all political parties not to continue with the present momentum of public sector growth and incentivise surplus public servants to shift to the private sector.

Detailing the difficulties being experienced by the manufacturing sector in Malta, the Malta Chamber said that it needed a concerted effort to re-establish its position as a major contributor to the country’s economy and employment.

The Malta Chamber reiterated that the incoming government must prioritise efforts to lobby the European Commission to enact legislative changes to the EU’s regional policy to eliminate discriminatory classification criteria. Being an island state, Malta was being discriminated against when compared to other remote island regions which are not states. To this end, the Malta Chamber called on an incoming government to make the necessary representations in favour of a change in the relevant European legislation which is up for review soon.

The Malta Chamber criticised both political parties for promising a number of measures such as parental sick leave, paternal leave, extending the maternity leave, increasing minimum wage further and compensating public holidays that fall on a weekend, may have the reverse effect in eroding companies’ competitiveness and make certain categories of the labour market less attractive to employ.

The rising challenges being faced by the private sector were also brought up in the document, identifying suitable human resources for their operations and maintaining competitiveness due to the related increases in labour costs.

The pre-electoral document also underlined the Malta Chamber’s proposed solution to the national airline Air Malta. The Chamber called on a new government to reduce Air Malta’s operational costs, rectify the airline’s debt situation and subsequently divide the company’s shareholding into three parts namely, the Government, an international aviation strategic partner and local investors.