Ittra lil Hon Ministru Dr L. Deguara


Hon. Minister,

We are in receipt of your
letter dated 9 December 2003.

At a meeting held today jointly between the
Executive Council of the Malta Chamber of Pharmacists and the GRTU Pharmacy
Owners Section we have unanimously approved the attached amendments to the
proposed draft Pharmacy Licensing Regulations – Medicines Act 2003 as appearing
in the Government Gazette of the 21 November 2003.


 

We are to inform you
that during the two extraordinary general meetings held by the GRTU Pharmacy
Owners Section and the Malta Chamber of Pharmacists it was decided that it is
imperative that negotiations are initiated with you before the four-week
deadline for submissions expires. We also insist that no regulations will be
enacted before the Ministry reaches a comprehensive agreement on all points in
contention with our two organisations.

Regrettably, if no answer is
forthcoming by 5p.m. on Friday, 12 December 2003 we have no other choice but to
declare a dispute with your Ministry.

Yours
sincerely

M. Borg Millo Hon. Secretary
M.DebonoPresident
Malta Chamber of Pharmacists GRTU Pharmacy Owners Section

 

The Competitive Strategies for Small States

GRTU – Association
of General Retailers and Traders is Malta's largest private sector organisation.
We represent owner-managed enterprises operating in various economic sectors:
retailers, importers, traders of all genre, distributors, service providers,
fuel distributors, petrol station owners, gas distributors, construction
contractors, self-employed, service suppliers, repairers of all genre, VRT
stations, catering establishments, night clubs, bars, restaurant, places of
entertainment, cargo hauliers, craft shops, garages and various independent
tourism handlers. We also represent fish resellers and vegetable and fruit
importers and resellers. Effectively we represent the people whose living depend
on their own ability to produce a good or a service, sell or resell, and make
profit. More than a third of Malta's gainfully occupied population is engaged in
the sector represented by GRTU. GRTU represents this sector at the highest level
of the consultative process. We are members of the Malta Council for Economic
and Social Development and GRTU is also represented on a wide cross section of
consultative Boards at sectoral level. At European level we participate in
EuroCommerce, the European Federation of National Traders and Retailers
Association, in EUAPME, the European Union Federation of National Organisations
representing small enterprises, and Confiad, the International Federation of
Customs Agents and Hauliers.

 

The Director General of GRTU is member of
the Malta Employment Relations Board and is also a Board of Director of Malta
Enterprise Corporation, Malta Development Corporation, the Institute for the
Promotion of Small Enterprises and the Malta Export Trade Corporation. As you
can easily see GRTU's responsibilities are great. As the economy of Malta
continues to liberalise, more and more emphasis is being placed on the private
sector.

Small businesses, traditionally at the bottom of the nation's
agenda are now recognised for their important economic contribution. The private
sector is divided roughly into two blocks: those who are direct foreign exchange
earners and who therefore need to compete consistently on an increasingly
competitive global market and those who operate on the local economy, selling
directly within the confines of the Maltese economy. The exporters from the
manufacturing sector, those in financial services, international import –
export, Freeport operations, airlines and in the travel and accommodation
trades, are directly affected by the goings in international markets. Other
operators, among them the vast majority of those represented by GRTU, are
affected by international Competitiveness directly as most of the equipment,
supplies and inventories are bought externally and the cost of importation
greatly affect the costing of their economic service. International
competitiveness affects much of their sourcing and supply. They are also
affected by local conditions as they purchase many services locally. In the
services sector, especially, where the ratios of labour costs to other inputs is
high, the cost of labour is an important determining factor and the cost of
labour is not only the direct costs of wages and salaries but also the added
social costs like direct social contributions to the state welfare systems, the
cost of leave, holidays, sick leave and work disruption. Internal operations in
the Maltese economy are also grossly affected. The cost of land, which in a
small territory as the Maltese Islands is permanently on the increase and the
cost of bureaucracy – that is red tape and taxation especially, greatly affect
the operations and costing of enterprises the burden is greater for small
enterprises as they cannot easily spread overhead costs and they act in a very
competitive sector. Many accuse small enterprises of profiteering. They are
often pictured as the promoters of inflationary pressures. This is a gross
exaggeration. There are always situations where super normal profits can be
made, but in highly competitive markets, as is the situation in a liberalised
trade environment as exists in Malta, super normal profits are rarely of
duration more than the very short term. We do have monopolies, mainly in the
utility provision and in certain particular supplies. However the advent of the
Fair Competition Office and the establishment of the many Competition Regulators
in fields like telecommunications, energy and other resources, financial
services, and broadcasting to give a few examples, have made the life of the
monopolist much more difficult.

GRTU as representative of operators who
compete strongly, one against the other and all depending on a derived demand as
generated by the other economic operators who bring to Malta the foreign
earnings that keep our GNP growing, cannot but be in favour of competition. GRTU
leaders have been among the earliest advocates for the establishment of
competition legislation and for the establishment of competition regulators.
Indeed GRTU is probably the most active client of the Fair Competition Office.
We persistently strive for more transparent and effective competition
safeguards.

This may sound contradictory, given that an organisation
like ours strives for the maximisation of profits by our members, but infact it
is not, as GRTU, as a national organisation, knows that free trade is the best
policy for economic growth. This is exactly the strength of GRTU in comparison
to the many sectoral organisations, co-operatives and organised groups that
exist within the economic filament of Malta. GRTU looks at the economy as a
whole. We direct our members away from restrictive practices in trade. Providing
protection for an investment to operate profitably is not the same as the
imposition of restrictive practices. We do insist on the limitation of entry to
trade in certain areas, but this is acceptable only when the number of operators
in a particular area are many and no form of cartel or price fixing exist. It is
also acceptable only when in the absence on control on entry to the trade for
transparent clearly defined economic, social, geographic, demographic,
environmental reason, the likelihood will be a lessening of efficiency and
quality of service and a discouragement to re-investment and technological
advance. There are a number of areas where capital outlays for enterprise are
high in order to operate at acceptable quality standards, and the market is too
small to gain a spread of costs without excessive pricing. In these
circumstances competition gains by ensuring a return to investors while
accepting price controls. Even in these very special circumstances however,
entry remains open to all under specific conditions as the economic or other
basic controlling criteria change. Overall, however, GRTU is against
restrictions on the supply side of goods and services as we believe that
controlling the supply side is not only restrictive of trade but also because it
inhibits economic growth and leads to stagnation and lowering of standards and
increased inefficiencies.

Similarly GRTU is against market intervention
by the authorities that distorts demand, except in those cases where an
autonomous regulation regime recommends changes to safeguard and improve
competition as for example what has happened recently in the telecom field
through the Malta Communication Authority.

The reason for this logic is
obvious. Restriction of supply, entry to trade and market intervention have a
direct determining impact on costs and lead to profiteering. Our operators
suffer from these practices as they pay more for inputs and make others suffer
as they over-charge if lucky enough to enjoy advantages and protective
privileges. We believe that free trade is the best policy. Our members are used
to competitive pressures on a day to day basis and competition does not frighten
them.

What really frightens them is bureaucracy. What frightens them is
the excessive power of the labour unions. In Malta these have such a dominant
effect on the labour market. The labour market in an economy the size of Malta
and Gozo where labour supply is so tight and where labour flexibility is nothing
but flexible cannot tolerate the price fixing of labour as is effectively done
by trade unions when they are as well organised and as politically powerful as
they are in Malta.

Bureaucracy keeps growing. Malta is a signatory of
the Charter for Small Enterprises. We are supposed to be reducing red tape.
Nobody believes that this is happening however. For the little reduced at
Customs or at Trade Licensing or at the Malta Financial Services Authority,
hundred others are imposed by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority and
by the Malta Standard Authority. The bureaucratic structure is too big and it
keeps growing. The public sector is too large for Malta's size. It eats too much
of our national economic resources and the cost on the private economic
operators is too large. The problem is endemic and competitiveness will not be
served if this situation persists.

GRTU strives at MCESD level, at Malta
Enterprise level and elsewhere, through its submissions, for a leaner and more
cost effective public sector. Things are changing. There is a greater awareness
that costs must be related to efficient use of resources but the road ahead is
very long and tortuous. The mentality in the public sector remains one that is
far removed from an enterprise-driven stature. New schemes are being developed
by IPSE as assistance to small enterprise to counteract for the increasing costs
of administrating businesses. Fiscal incentives are hopefully on the way too.
GRTU has been submitting one proposal after another to cause the fiscal
authorities to change their negative attitude towards small enterprises. What's
the use of giving assistance to enterprise when the funds generated by them are
taken away by stifling taxation. Recognition of what are the real problems faced
by enterprise remains limited.

In the absence of an approved index that
measures what the costs for enterprise are, including both direct costs and
government induced costs, and how these costs vary over time so that remedial
action can be taken, Competitiveness cannot have a chance. We cannot have a
competitiveness strategy unless costs are measured and compared and policies are
addressed to resolve uncompetitive pressures. The monitoring of Competitiveness
remains difficult. Insuring that the competitive structure of the market works
and is effective is one thing. Monitoring Competitiveness and devising policies
that encourage Competitiveness and foster improved Competitiveness is another.

MCESD must resolve this issue. A Competitiveness Council within MCESD
has now been established and hopefully work will start soon. GRTU intends to
make this Council work. GRTU intends to ensure a unified national approach to
resolve competitiveness issues. The devising of policies appropriate to the
emerging situation should follow. But action today is on a slow coach. Sometimes
we feel like giving up. But we won't. GRTU is determined to push forward for the
emergence of a Social Contract that binds all parties – labour, enterprise, the
state and civil society in one big effort to keep Malta competitive.

We
must succeed. If we fail we face a difficult future. Membership of the European
Union with diminishing Competitiveness will eventually annihilate us. With
increased Competitiveness Malta could be the success story of the EU in the next
two decades.

 

Nahsbu fiz-Zghar f’Ewropa li Qed Tikber


Nghid mill-ewwel li ghalkemm gejt mitlub li nipprezenta d-dokument
‘Thinking Small in an Enlarging Europe’ dan ghandu x’jaqsam aktar mall-fatt li
jien u l-organnizazzjoni li nirraprezenta’ nemmnu bis-shih fil-messagg aktar
milli ahna konvinti mill-kontenut tad-dokument.

 


L-istorja ta’ Ewropa hi
l-istorja tan-negozji z-zghar Ewropej. Hafna jaqraw l-istorja tan-negozji
z-zghar Ewropew bil-mod li ghalmuhielna fl-iskejjel: storja ta’ gwerer civili
bejn Ewropej u Ewropej u hafna drabi bejn nies tal-istess gens fil-firxa kbira
ta nazzjonijiet imsejha Ewropej. Hemm storja ohra izda, l-istorja ta’ dawk
kollha li matul is-sekli hadmu biex holqu x-xoghol. Il-haddiem hadem u ta l-aqwa
snin ta’ hajtu biex l-pajjizi Ewropej staghnaw. Biex illum dan ir-regjun hu
wiehed mill-aktar regjuni sinjuri tad-dinja. Izda x-xoghol ma jinholoqx wahdu.
Il-miraklu tax-xoghol hu l-miraklu ta’ min joholqu.

Huma hafna
l-intraprizi l-kbar li jhaddmu l-miljuni u jdawru biljuni ta’ Euros bejniethom u
jsostnu flimkien qadfa kbira mill-progress ekonomiku ta’ hafna mill-pajjizi
Ewropej. L-intraprizi I-kbar jaffordjaw investimenti kbar f’impjanti u f’sistemi
ta’ livell gholi u jaffordjaw wkoll investimenti kbar fit-teknologija,
fl-innovazzjoni, fit-tahrig tan-nies, fl-izvilupp tal-infrastrutturi tas-suq u
tat-trasport u fuq kollox, l-intrapriza l-kbira ssostni bil-kbir is-sistema
finanzjarja u hi pilastru kbir tas-sistema demokratika mibnija fuq l-liberta
ekonomika. L-antagonizmu ta’ dari lejn l-intrapriza l-kbira ma jaghmilx sens u
ghandhom jehmnu f’dan biss ftit intelletwali li jikkapparraw hafna postijiet
komdi fl-universitajiet u fis-sistemi pubblici kif ukoll f’hafna
organizazzjonijiet internazzjonali fl-oqsma trade-unjonistici ispirati minn
idjologiji tal-bierah.

Dawk saqajhom mal-art jafu li s-sistema ekonomika
trid l-intrapriza l-kbira u trid firxa tal-investiment kbir li jcaqlaq
l-izvilupp u jaghti spinta lil progress ekonomiku.

Izda fil-prattika hu
dak li jghix fid-dinja reali tax-xoghol jaf li lil ‘hinn mill-investituri multi
nazzjonali u nazzjonali u trans- nazzjonali ta’ qies kbir jeziztu l-kotra
tal-intraprizi. Din il-kotra hi maghmula min intraprizi zghar. Drajna nirreferu
ghalihom bhala SME’s small and medium enterprises. Wara snin ta’ SME’s niezla u
SME’s tiela issa dahlet ukoll r-rikonoxxenza li wara kollox aktar milli medium
enterprises qeghdin fil-fatt nitkellmu dwar small enterprises. Anzi aktar u
aktar dwar micro-enterprises. Mhux l-intrapriza li thaddem aktar min hamsin ruh,
izda dik li thaddem taht il-hamsin u aktar dik li thaddem anqas min
ghaxra.

Ghadna izda mhawda mhux ftit meta naqraw id-dokumentazzjoni dwar
l-intrapriza u dwar l-ekonomija kemm dik Ewropeja kif ukoll dik Nazzjonali,
L-aktar rapport ta’ importanza li hareg f’Malta is-‘Single Programming Document
‘ hu xempju tat-tahwid li ghadu jezizti x’hin l-esperti janalizzaw l-intrapriza
z-zghira. Is-‘Single Programming Document’ ghandu tahwida shiha dwar
l-intrapriza. Xi tfisser intrapriza fis-‘Single Programming Document’? Hadd ma
jaf hlief min kitbu. Qiesu fit-Turizmu ma hemmx intrapriza. Tal-Kummerc u
l-bejgh ma jiziztux. Dawk li jahdmu ghar-rashom m’humiex intrapriza.
Tal-kostruzzjoni, tal-manifattura u tal-barrieri, iva. L-bdiewa w s-sajjieda le.
Dan it-tahwid jizdied meta wiehed ihares lejn il-pubblikazzjonijiet tan-National
Statistics Office, l-NSO. Dawn qed jghamlu xoghol siewi u nteressanti hafna fuq
diversi oqsma, izda, meta tifli x’jghidu dwar l-intrapriza z-zghira, tahwida
shiha. Jkejlu l-impatt fuq l-Gross Domestic Product tas-setturi l-aktar
importanti: manifattura, servizzi, proprjeta, intraprizi statali, banek u
assugurazzjonijiet, settur pubbliku, kostruzzjoni, bejgh u kummerc. Izda ma
nafux x’inhu l-kontribut lejn l-ekonomija nazzjonali tas-settur tan-negozju
z-zghir. U mhux tan-negozji deskritti bhala ntraprizi mill-kittieba tal-Single
Programming Document, le tan-negozji z-zghar kolllha huma fliema oqsma huma;
manifattura, riparazzjoni, crafts, trasport, biedja, sajd, catering, turizmu,
agenziji, xoghol tas-sengha, xoghol professjonali, kostruzzjoni, hwienet,
kummerc, kiri, hu x’inhu. L-intraprizi ta’ wiehed jew aktar li l-ghan taghhom hu
l-profitt.

Id-distinzjoni l-kbira hi bejn dawk li jahdmu ghal paga u dawk
li jiehdu sogru u jahdmu ghal profit, hu x’inhu l-qasam. Din li m’ghandniex
cifri pubbliikati li jiddefinixxu sew dan is-settur u jkejjlu sewwa
l-kontribuzzjoni ekonomika hi problema kbira. Mhux taghna biss tafux. Hi
l-problema ma’ l-Ewropa kollha. Kif allura nistghu inkejlu l-progress. Kif
nistghu nidentifikaw l-problemi b’mod Imkejjel? U kif ser infasslu policies u
nkejjlu l-effett ta’ dawn il-policies?

Is-sabiha hi li c-cifri jeziztu.
Li ma jeziztiex hu l-analizi. Mic-cifri li jinghataw mill-intraprizi, n-National
Statistics Office, jista’ facilment johrog ir-rapport dwar l-impatt ekonomiku u
l-kejl ta’ kull aspett mportanti rigward n-negozji z-zghar. Nispera li din hi
l-ahhar sena li qed nokrob pubblikament ghal pubblikazzjoni ta’ dawn
ic-cifri.

Il-lum aktar minn qatt qabel irridu nkunu nafu fejn ahna. Issa
li wasalna fl-Unjoni Ewropeja dak kollu li llum nistennew jista’ jsir rejalta.
Ic-Charter tan-Negozji z-Zghar li tant minnu hdimna ghalih fi hdan
l-organizazzjonijiet Ewropej li jirraprezentaw in-negozji z-zghar, jaghmel sens,
meta jibda jitkejjel b’mod effettiv. Il-lum ir-rikonoxximent qieghed hemm. Ahna
hadna pjacir f’dawn l-ahhar ftit snin naraw kif l-Kummissjoni Ewropeja qed
tistembah dejjem aktar ghal problemi taz-zghar. Sal-bierah kien qishom l-kbar
biss jeziztu. Ghadhom l-kbar li jiddominaw, jghidu x’jghidu tal-Kummissjoni
Ewropeja. U ghadhom l-kbar li jinstemghu l-aktar jghidu kemm jghidu. ‘Listen to
the voice of small businesses’ F’ittra ndirizzata lil Kummissjoni Ewropeja u lil
Kapijiet tal-gvern Ewropej l-UEAPME, li maghha l-GRTU hi assocjata appellat lil
kbarat tal-Unjoni Ewropeja biex bil-fatti twettaq dak li qed jghidu dwar
l-intrapriza z-zghira.

Il-fatt li bdejna izda hu sinjal tajjeb. Id-Deputy
Envoy ghal SME’s, Mr Emanuel Berk, li ndirrizzana fil-Konferenza Nazzjonali
tal-GRTU fi Frar din is-sena, dwar l-impatt tas-shubija fl-Unjoni Ewropeja fuq
in-negozzji z-zghar ghamlilna kuragg kbir meta spjegalna l-iskemi kollha li
jeziztu u li jofru ghajnuna specifika lin-negozji z-zghar. Jidher kif jghid
tajjeb ir-rapport, ‘Thinking Small in our Enlarging Europe’ li qed isir progress
gmielu fil-bini tal-istituzzjonijiet u l-iskemi li l-ghan taghhom hu li jghinu
lin-negozji z-zghar. Izda it-twettiq ghadu limitat. Qed isir progress fejn
l-intrapriza z-zghira hi organizzata u fejn l-istituzzjonijiet governattivi qed
jifhmu bis-serjeta l-htigijiet ta’ dawn n-negozji. Fejn izda l-mentalita ghadha
dik li n-negozjant z-zghir tarah qiesu xkiel, l-impatt ghadu ma nhassx. Din
tghodd ghal pajjizi kollha fl-Unjoni. Tghodd zgur ghal Malta.

F’dawn
l-ahhar snin kull organizazzjoni li tirraprezenta l-intraprizi Maltin hu x’inhu
il-qasam, ressqet proposti fuq proposti biex l-problemi jkunu ndirizzati. Sar
progress mhux ma sarx, izda baqa hafna x’isir. X’uhud mill-proposti, per
ezempju, dawk ipprezentati mill-GRTU f’pakkett jismu ‘Submissions for a Better
Business Environment for Small Businesses’ baqghu jew fuq l-ixkaffa jew meta
twettqu twettqu b’mod li l-effett taghhom intilef. Hekk sar f’hafna
mis-suggerimenti dwar il-VAT. Niccaqalqu lejliet l-elezzjoni b’certu ritmu
imbaghad nergghu bl-attitudni negattiva qisna kollha hallelin. Nghid li l-htiga
hi l-mentalita li ghadha tirrenja fost certi politici, certi trade unions
dominati, fil-media u fuq kollox fil-burokrazija pubblika. Kuljum meta nitkellem
f’isem iz-zghar ta’ pajjizna ghadni nsofri il-kummenti bla sens ta’ nies li
haqqhom jafu aktar. Hemm qiesu pregudizzju. Hawn nies jghidulha ghira. Ma nafx
x’inhi. Naf li hi attitudni negattiva.

Bhal kull qasam iehor izda dan hu
qasam fejn shabna mill-Unjoni Ewropeja ser jghinuna. Ahna sibna ghajnuna kbira,
l-ewwel minn shabna fil-Federation of Small Businesses tar-Renju Unit, wkoll
mill-ESBD, illum minn shabna fil-Euro Commerce u l-UEAPME – organizazzjonijiet
li ghandhom rapprezentanza qawwija ta’ negozji zghar u li ghandhom influenza li
dejjem tikber fl-Ewropa.

Malta hi pajjiz ta’ negozji zghar. Iffurtunati
ahna li dehlin fl-Unjoni meta jezizti dan l-qawmien ghal htigijiet tan-nies
taghna. L-effett diga jinhass anke f’pajjizna. Niehdu pjacir li qed naraw
fl-ahhar lil kapijiet tal-gvern jkollhom jaghtu rendikont lil xi hadd dwar dak
li qed jaghmlu biex jagevolaw liz-zghar. Il-progress li qed jirraporta
d-dokument tal-Kummissjoni Ewropeja lil Parlament Ewropej jaspira fiducja ghax
qed jirraporta progress f’diversi oqsma. Jien nghid li hu ottimist u fih ftahir
zejjed. Pero jindika direzzjoni tajba, id-direzzjoni li rridu naqdfu lejha
bis-sahha anke minn pajjizna. Anzi forsi aktar ahna ghax zghar u mimlijin zghar.
Iva ejja nahsbu ta’ zghar. Iz-zghir hemm postu. Post ghal pajjizna u post
ghalina n-negozji z-zghar. Post tajjeb fl-Ewropa li qed
tikber.

 

Proposed ban on new hotel buildings: Dangerous economic intervention

During my intervention at the national conference held at the
Radisson Hotel this week on the theme "A proposed strategy to maximise Malta's
competitive potential," I expressed my objections to the conclusions of the
position paper by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) on Key
Issues Facing the Tourism Industry
.

The main conclusion of the MHRA was
that the government should adopt a policy of 'quality consolidation' on the
issue of permits for new hotels. Once the euphemism is removed, MHRA is
effectively saying that the government should stop the building and opening of
new hotels and new holiday complexes. The MHRA is also saying no to the further
spread of tourism facilities: the areas that now gain from tourism continue to
enjoy their earnings, while new areas aspiring to get a piece of the cake are to
stay out of tourism earnings.I normally support MHRA positions as I
believe that over the years MHRA has proved itself extremely effective in
sustaining an ever growing tourism industry. I have also assisted in the
development of economic arguments that helped MHRA in the quest for a sound
tourism industry in Malta.But not this time.

I believe that the 'quality
consolidation' proposal is too weak on economic grounds and that it is too crude
in its advocation of a hold on further hotel development. I would have been
willing to symphatise if the economic arguments were right on at least four
scores: three on the supply side, one on the demand side.No to
supply-side restrictionsThe three tests I would have liked the MHRA
paper to present on the supply side are at three different levels. In the first
instance, I would have liked to see an assessment of what could be the impact on
holiday complexes or hotels of additional bed stock in each individual
establishment. There are accommodation establishments whose bedstock can
increase while still providing an increasing return on investment, as any
increase would further stretch operation costs and thus reduce the cost per unit
and enable a resulting competitive gain through better pricing. The ban would
effectively make them less competitive.The second exercise should have
seen a detailed impact on the whole sector. In the first instance the gain, or,
loss, on the accommodation sector itself i.e. whether an increase in bedstock
would enable further consolidation for effectively the same marketing effort or
whether a further increase would extend costs so much, including pressures on
labour costs and the costs of other supplies whose availability may also be
constrained, that rather than additional economic gains, would on the contrary
lead to economic loss or diminution of existing gains. The sectoral analysis
should have extended to the impact of additional bedstock on other auxiliary
economic activities: bars, restaurants, car-hire, retailing, services etc. Can
these auxiliary sectors continue to expand and become more competitive if they
were to suffer a ban on new hotels and complexes and apartments for tourist
leasing?

In the third instance, I would have liked to see the MHRA study
the impact of a hold on the increase of bedstock on the gross domestic product.
Tourism is not simply about hotels, bars and restaurants. The performance of
tourism is measured in terms of the contribution to GDP of such sectors as
property income, manufacturing, especially the furniture and bedding sector,
transport and communication, agriculture and fishing, marketing services, and of
retail and wholesale. Tourism also has great impact on the contribution to GDP
of government enterprises like Maltacom and Enemalta and the contribution of the
financial sector.It also affects government income through payments of
VAT and income tax and through a multitude of government fees and charges. Would
an increase in bedstock have a negative return on the rest of the economy as it
has to suffer more costs as the infrastructure gets further extended and there
is an increased cost on the environment through the additional construction
traffic movements caused by the further expansion of the main supply side issue
in the tourism sector? MHRA should have given a detailed cost-+benefit analysis
on which its conclusions are based. There's too much that depends on
tourism.

MHRA has failed to indicate in any way that an increase in
bedstock would have a diminishing economic return either on the hotels and
complexes themselves, or on the whole tourism sector and on the economy as a
whole. It has also failed to provide sufficient arguments to win me over to the
idea of abandoning my strong objections to any interference with the supply side
of economics. Economic history has shown that the negatives of such policies far
outweigh the positives.We in Malta have done well in clearing out of old
rigidities through gradual liberalisation and privitasation and the creation of
regulators. It has been one long painful transition but liberalisation in Malta
has been a huge success. We have now reached a stage where politicians are all
eager to appear not to interfere with the market mechanism. In the sector I am
most involved with we have striven hard to find solutions to areas of economic
activity were supply was restricted. It is never easy. MHRA should think it over
and over again before recommending restrictive practices in their sector. Lets
now not look backwards.

Are we at the end of the road?

The other
economic argument that I would have liked to see MHRA present is on the demand
side: is MHRA saying that Malta has reached the end of road and that we cannot
attract more than the 1.1 million tourists we are attracting at present? Has
MHRA swallowed, bones and all, the faulty arguments of the tourism-capping
brigade who are so fearful that more tourists will be bad for our health and
sanity?

The figures do not support MHRA. Present bedstock at 39,000 would
require 1.78 million tourists a year if hotels aim for an idyll 100 per cent
occupancy rate. Should they aspire for a more reasonable 65 per cent occupancy
rate plus an additional five per cent to give them the funds they need for
further upgrading and for re-investment, 1.2 million tourists are enough. Is
MHRA telling us that 1.2 million tourists a year are beyond our reach? I do not
believe it. I am sure people, more expert than I, do not believe it
either.

Should the 45,000 bedstock target based on projects currently in
hand, and assuming also that there is no retreat from existing bedstocks, is
reached, Malta would effectively need 1.35 million tourists a year to hold to
profitable rates of occupancy in the accommodation sector. Should more bedstock
come on stream, than Malta would effectively need around 1.5 million tourists a
year. And it's always a net, rather than a gross absolute increment. Are we
really saying that 1.3 million tourists is bad for us? I do not believe it. And
are we saying that 1.5 million tourists a year is an impossible target? Do we
really want to believe this when we know that this industry is the fastest
growing economic sector in the world?

Let's advertise more and
better

One needs to remember that there is still much to do in tourism.
There are areas in Malta that deserve tourism development as a reasonable
economic activity that would help raise the standard of living of people in
these areas. There is much more to do in the field of product development. With
more reasonable development and with a rational strategy towards the
environment, there is no reason why we have to adopt defeatist policies that
were the cause of so much economic pain in the past. Lets not convince ourselves
that in terms of tourism we are at the end of the road. We are not.

In my
view the solution to present problems is one and only: we must find more funds
to rapidly increase our marketing efforts. It's sickening how poor our
advertising efforts are compared to the potential of the market. There is
presently no better return to money spent by government than the money spent on
tourism marketing. The answer is simply: make the demand grow and manage better
the supply side, but steer away from restrictions. This after all is in the
essence what a competitive strategy for Malta is all about.

Mr Farrugia
is director general of GRTU, a member of MCESD and a former chairman and chief
executive of NTOM, the predecessor of MTA.

 

Diskors tal-President tal-GRTU Charles Busuttil waqt Konferenza Nazzjonali 23 ta’ Frar 2003

Nibda biex naghti merhba u nirringrazzja tal-attendenza
lill-Eccellenza Tieghu s-Sur Ronald Gallimore, Ambaxxatur tal-Unjoni Ewropea
f’Malta, u nirringrazzjah ukoll tal-ghajnuna li taghna biex organizzajna din
il-Konferenza, lil shabna membri tal-GRTU, u lil shabna l-ohra fl-ghaqdiet
differenti tal-industrija u kummerc hawn prezenti.

 


Il-GRTU minn dejjem
tat importanza kbira lir-relazzjonijet ta’ Malta mal-Ewropa, u sa minn tletin
sena ilu rabtet l-identita’ u d-destin ta’ dan il-poplu ma’ dak tal-Ewropa. Kien
hemm ragunijiet ta’ demokrazija, ragunijiet ta’ liberta’, u l-ideat ta’ kummerc
hieles; ghax ahna dejjem ikkonoxxejna l-Ewropa bhala l-akbar siehba taghna
fil-qasam tan-negozju.

Kien ghalhekk normali u dover taghna illi meta
saret l-ewwel applikazzjoni ghal Shubija shiha fl-Unjoni Ewropea, ahna konna
tal-ewwel illi fittixna li nikkoperaw mal-Gvern tal-gurnata biex nifhmu x’kien
se jsarraf ghan-negozju dan il-pass hekk importanti. Gharafna
r-responsibilitajiet li dehlin ghalihom, u gharafna l-bzonn illi nvolvu ruhna
halli fid-decizjonijiet li kellhom jittiehdu, naghmlu l-almu taghna kollu biex
in-negozjant u b’mod specjali n-negozjant iz-zghir, ma jmurx minn that. Imma
sfortunatament fil-bidu tas-snin disghin ftit li xejn sar tangibbli biex wiehed
jipprepara, jifhem u jerfa’ dan il-piz li konna qed nimmiraw ghalih.

Meta
l-applikazzjoni tas-Shubija giet iffrizata ahna wkoll konna minn ta’ quddiem u
kkoperajna bis-shih f’sessjonijiet twal mal-membri tal-gvern biex jitwettaq
il-programm u t-tibdil li ried dak il-gvern elett demokratikament mill-poplu.
Dan ukoll ahna ghamilnih fl-ahjar interess tal-membri taghna negozjanti, li
fil-parti l-kbira taghhom huma zghar u self-employed.

Wara l-bidla
tal-1998 giet riattivata l-applikazzjoni ghal shubija shiha mal-Unjoni Ewropea,
imbeda l-veru xoghol iebes u mghaggel biex il-pajjiz jipprepara ruhu ghal
gurnata li l-proposta tas-shubija shiha titpogga quddiem il-poplu biex, skond ma
jkun ra, fehem u vverifika, jaghti l-verdett tieghu: IVA jew LE.

Ahna
dejjem qaghdna lura milli nesprimu opinjonijiet prematuri favur jew kontra dan
il-pass hekk delikat – anke akkost li gieli gejna ttimbrati li nxaqilbu lejn
naha jew l-ohra. Imma ahna ma hallejniex il-passjonijiet personali tal-membri
tal-Kunsill iwaqqghuna fit-tentazzjoni li naghmlu gudizzju bla ma nkunu rajna
l-affarijiet kif inhuma jew kif se jkunu verament.

Ghalhekk sa mill-bidu
nett ahna hadna parti attiva fid-diskussjonijiet fuq l-adozzjoni tal-Acquis
Communautaire fejn jolqot lill-membri taghna – u dan ifisser li kwazi hadna
parti f’kollox. Ghaliex l-interessi tal-membri taghna tant huma varjati,
in-numru ta’ kategorija ta’ negozji u self-employed tant huma numeruzi u varjati
li ftit li xejn kien hemm li ma kienx jinteressana.

U meta nghid hadna
sehem – ifisser li hadna sehem effettiv. Lehinna kien dejjem qawwi u minn ta’
quddiem biex nesprimu opinjoni, naghtu pariri jew noggezzjonaw: hafna drabi
forsi kien hemm min iddejjaq bina ghax donnu ahna konna naqalghu
d-diffikultajiet kollha fejn forsi hadd ma oggezzjona u baqa’ sieket ghax ma
ndunax x’laqtu. Imma dan kien sforz il-preparazzjoni intensa u l-entuzjazmu li
kellna biex dak li kellu jigi, nassiguraw li jigi tajjeb – jew jekk kellu jigi
l-hazin, ridna li nsibu mezz illi n-nies taghna ma jinhaqrux
izzejjed.

Aktar ma ghadda z-zmien u hargu rizultati tan-negozjati
mal-Unjoni Ewropea aktar sibna illi, fejn jidhlu l-membri taghna – dawn kellhom
bzonn sezzjoni sezzjoni jaraw kif sejrin jintlaqtu. Bdejna serje ta’
diskussjonijiet mas-sezzjonijiet fejn beda johrog it-tajjeb u l-hazin skond
il-mestjier li jkun. Ikkonfermajna illi l-membri taghna bhala negozjanti li
dejjem kienu mdorrijin jiehdu decizjonijiet importanti fin-negozju taghhom,
kienu kompetenti din id-darba wkoll li ma jhallu lil hadd jiddeciedi ghalihom:
ahna lesti li nghinuhom jifhmu s-sitwazzjoni – imma d-decizjoni sagrosanta
ghandha tkun taghom skond ma jaqbel lilhom, lill-familji taghhom, u mhux anqas
lil pajjizhom.

Illum wasalna fil-kulmo, fil-quccata ta’ dan il-process
b’din il-Konferenza. Ghalhekk rajna li l-kelliema barranin li stedinna ma jkunux
burokratici ta’ Brussel. Stedinna nies li bhalna, ihabbtu wicchom ma’ nies ta’
intraprizi zghar bhalkom, bil-problemi li jiltaqghu maghhom kuljum. Dawn huma
nies li jmexxu negozjanti bhalkom fid-dinja tad-diffikultajiet li eternament
johloq il-kummerc; u hwejjeg tal-iskantament dawn il-problemi m’humiex
differenti minn taghna. Insibu li dawn ukoll jiggieldu biex in-negozjant
iz-zghir jigi agevolat, biex jigi kkonoxxut fid-dinja ta’ globalizazzjoni,
mergers u takeovers, biex jibqa’ kompetittiv, biex jibqa’ jaghti sehem tieghu
hekk importanti fl-ekonomija tal-pajjiz ewropej. Dawn huma nies li organizzaw
lill-membri taghhom f’ghaqdiet li jikkoperaw b’mod li lin-negozjant jaghtuh
certi servizzi ta’ ghajnuna biex in-negozjant jaghtuh aktar hin x’jiddedika
ghan-negozju tieghu. Dawn huma n-nies li llobjaw biex gie ffirmat ic-charter li
jgieghel lill-pajjizi tal-Ewropa jagevolaw u jibzghu ghall-intrapriza z-zghira u
li ahna wkoll firmatarji maghhom.

Ghalhekk huwa bi pjacir li aktar
il-quddiem nintroducilkom ufficjali gholjin mill-UEAPME li hija speci ta’ GRTU
fl-Ewropa, mill-EuroCommerce li wkoll hija ghaqda kbira ta’ inraprizi fil-parti
l-kbira zghar, u sinjur iehor li huwa l-President tal-General Assembly
tal-Kummercjanti u Service Providers tal-Portugal. Ghandna wkoll ufficjal gholi
tekniku mid-D.G. Enterprise li jispjega x’nistghu niehdu mill-unjoni
Ewropea.

Dawn gew biex jghinuna nifhmu ahjar x’hemm lest ghalina
fl-Ewropa. Gew biex jaqdu lilkom. Ghalhekk toqoghdux lura, staqsu dak li thossu
li tridu ticcaraw. Wara l-Konferenza intom mistednin ghal drinks u snacks fejn
intom ukoll ikollkom l-opportunita’ li tkellmu lil dawn il-mistednin taghna
b’mod informali.

U issa sinjuri nistieden lid-Direttur Generali taghna
s-Sur Vince Farrugia halli jghid kelmtejn fuq din il-kwistjoni li ghandna
quddiemna tas-Shubija fl-Unjoni Ewropea.

Diskors ta’ Patrice Pellegrino (EuroCommerce) waqt Konferenza Nazzjonali 23 ta’ Frar 2003

Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I wish to say that I am
very honoured to have been invited today to address the GRTU conference in Malta
and also to take part in the debate concerning the accession of Malta to the
EU

As you may guess, I prepared my speech before my arrival. It was drawn up
on the basis of all the economic and politic analysis that have been already
carried out in order to assess the positive potential impact of the accession of
your country to the European Union.However, yesterday, I changed my mind –
and my speech – for two main reasons.Firstly, by reading local newspapers,
which exhaustively reported the opinions of the pros and cons, I understood that
a real debate has been taking place on the question;secondly, when drinking
a glass of red Maltese wine in La Valetta, I said to myself that, in terms of
quality, this product could easily compete with wines produced in the EU. As
being of both French and Italian nationality, I allow you imagine what this
remark means…I thus decided to change my speech because the “Maltese
experience” I had yesterday lead me to the conclusion that you are fully aware
of all the necessary figures, economical analyses and data.
Therefore, in my
opinion, a major part of the current debate relates more to passion and emotions
than to reason. I will not begin by introducing EuroCommerce; the European
Organisation I am representing here at this stage – but I prefer to immediately
address the main subject of my intervention:
“What can Maltese small business
owners gain from the Single Market?”
As a lawyer, I would say that the
response lies in the Article 14.2 of the EC Treaty:
“The Internal Market
shall comprise an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of
goods, persons, services and capital is ensured in accordance with the
provisions of this Treaty”.
This implies, of course, that customs duties on
imports and exports and charges having an equivalent effect shall be
prohibited.
For an economy, such as the Maltese one, where the internal
demand is almost saturated and for which any prospective of growth passes
through the further opening of this economy to the world, this definition of the
Internal Market – that accounts for almost 400 Million consumers – should
suffice to convince business operators.
However, this does not seem to be the
case.
I understand that you are fully aware of what the Internal Market is
and of what joining it means:
– The removal of the remaining barriers,

The implementation of the Acquis Communautaire as to guarantee operators with a
level playing field and,
– The prospective of important economic growth,
especially for an economy like this, which is essentially based on
services.

But, concretely, what does this consist in?
Let me share
with you my experience:
Years ago, when an EU based big retailer operator
established itself in applicant countries, local retailers and local
manufacturers feared the competition and this situation, at that time, was quite
worrying. Indeed, 60% of the products sold in the outlets of this retailer where
produced abroad and the business schemes of the local retailers were definitely
outdated in respect to
local demand, keener to buy western products. A few
years later, 60% of products are produced locally and through the development of
for example, franchising agreements, local retailers have been able to adopt new
business schemes and improve their sales methods by adapting them to local
demand. Moreover, because local producers were able to reach the quality
standards requested and because of this privileged commercial relationship with
the EU retailer, nowadays their products, still manufactured in their country,
are sold on EU markets. Another positive effect is that because this retailer
has also exported its “know how”, local retailers have been able to develop new
marketing schemes and new methods of sales.

You should also not loose
sight that to join the European Union does not only represent the possibility to
access the Single Market, but also the possibility to access it under the cover
of specific policies aimed at:
– favouring the regional economic development,
for example, via the structural funds – and you know that Malta obtained one of
the highest per capita funding packages of the 10 applicant countries;

ensuring the development of Small and Medium sized Enterprises that, as you and
the EU institutions know, are the main source of welfare, innovation and job
creation.
Finally, joining the European Union will also represent the
opportunity to join the EU Commercial Policy and this is particularly important
for an open economy such as the Maltese one. As you know, a new round of
negotiation will take place very soon and fundamental questions concerning the
liberalisation of the services sector – which accounts for more than 70% of
Gross Added Value in Maltese GDP – are on the agenda. Joining the EU will allow
you to make your voice heard and your interests better represented within the
WTO negotiations as well as in other international economic fora.
Personally,
I have not read or heard any convincing argument against the accession of Malta
to the EU. However, such a tough debate reveals the existence of other
considerations that are not of economic nature.
No one can contest that Malta
has different trumps:
– its human resources: a flexible labour force easily
adaptable to new circumstances and having the great advantage of being
multi-lingual;
– an economy already widely open and for which more openness
should not represent a threat in itself, but a chance in the absolute;

Malta is also in front in the use of information technologies such as
Internet;
– and, last but not least, the implementation of Acquis should not
represent a great problem, because over the past years you have already adopted
the necessary measures to comply with the existing European rules.

Then
what is the problem?
I came to the conclusion that the main problem is fear
and lack of confidence and this may explain why economic data and analysis are
not the appropriate arguments in this debate.
Because I am not from Malta, I
do not have any idea of the origin of these feelings and, as a result, I am not
able to build up a flawless line of arguments. Therefore, I will borrow from
Pope John Paul the Second the title of a well-known encyclical that could be my
advice: “Non abbiate paura” – Don’t be afraid.
In the present context, I
guess that the choice between yes or no is more a question of faith than a
question of reason, faith in your ability to face the challenge and to make your
voice heard. If you are concerned about how your interests will be taken into
account, don’t forget a few important elements:
1) Specific EU policies exist
in those areas where you have particular interest: for example, the EU policy
for Enterprises does not neglect the interests of SMEs;
2) Derogation has
been negotiated for in order to take into account your specificity and a
transition period has been provided for in certain sectors;
3) Implementing
the Acquis – which should not represent a difficulty – means implementing rules
that are common to all the EU operators, so that business operators will be able
to have access to the Internal Market with the necessary legal certainty this
requires;
4) Becoming a member of the EU also means to become part of a
decision-making process and to play a role in the definition of the rules you
will have to apply within the framework of free trade agreements.

Finally
– and this is why I will introduce EuroCommerce at this stage – do not forget
that networks exist in Brussels. Created to defend general or specific
interests, these networks are very active. They do not only aim at influencing
the decision-making process but they also exercise a close monitoring on the
application of the EU rules at national level. They regularly inform their
members of any EU initiative that might have an impact on their day-to-day
business life and they are able to provide their members with advice on any
specific situation.
As such they represent an efficient link between you,
your national federation and the EU institutions.
EuroCommerce is one of
them. Created in 1993 after the merger of 3 organisations representing retail,
wholesale and international trade, our membership covers national trade
federations from 24 European countries, European associations representing
specific branches of Commerce as well as individual companies. Composed of a
team of nearly 20 permanent representatives, active in all policy areas having
impact on our sector, such as legal and consumer affairs, social affairs,
environment, e-commerce, international trade, food safety, enlargement and
enterprise
issues, payment systems, etc., EuroCommerce is the voice of the
Commerce sector in Brussels and is considered as a reliable and appreciated
interlocutor of the EU institutions.
With other European federations, like
UEAPME, we take part in the debate on horizontal and fundamental questions, such
as the promotion of sound conditions for entrepreneurship, the simplification of
business regulatory environment or the improvement of the EU Governance.
As
representative of a sector that accounts for 4.7 million enterprises, generating
13% of total GDP and providing jobs to over 22 million people drawn from all
parts of society, we are active in all the fields that might have a direct or
indirect impact on the trade sector. Because we are particularly active in the
social dialogue – where EuroCommerce is a recognised social partner for the
trade sector – I am pleased to announce you that we will organise this year a
Round table on social dialogue, here, in Malta.
I could go on by illustrating
the whole range of our activities from our membership in the Trade contact group
and its importance in the field of the external trade in particular, in the
prospective of the next WTO round in Cancun – where we will be present – to the
different initiatives we are part of in the field of food safety; but this is
not the aim of this meeting. However, if I decided to introduce EuroCommerce at
this stage, it was with the aim to show you that all the sectors of the Maltese
economy will have the opportunity to find the appropriate intermediary of their
interests and concerns and that there are ways to help you to ensure your voice
is heard in the right place at the right moment.
Ladies and Gentlemen, since,
for most of you, the choice you will be soon asked to make is not so much a
question of economical data or financial

agreement as a question of
feeling, when making this choice let me suggest to you to believe in yourselves
and particularly in your historical capacity to adapt to new circumstances. In
that case, I personally have no doubt that for Malta to join the EU will very
soon be seen and felt as a success story.

Thank you very
much.

 

Diskors ta’ Mr Vince Farrugia waqt Konferenza Nazzjonali 23 ta’ Frar 2003

Eccellenza, kelliema mistiedna u hbieb. Nirringrazzjakom jien
ukoll li gejtu hawn dalghodu. Il-GRTU ghan-nom taghkom hadet din il-kwistjoni
tal-Unjoni Ewropeja bl-akbar serjeta’ sa mill-bidu nett. Kien hemm zmien meta
l-Kunsill tal-GRTU kien iddecieda, hafna qabel ma Malta dahlet fid-dettal ta’ xi
tfisser Shubija fl-Unjoni Ewropeja, li jkun ahjar li Malta taghmel parti minn
dik li kienet tissejjah il-Komunita’ Ewropeja. Dan kien fi zmien meta
l-principju tal-liberalizazzjoni tal-kummerc ma kienx ghadu gie accettat
mill-partiti politici kollha Maltin u mill-imsiehba socjali kollha. Kien zmien
meta n-negozjant Malti hass il-futur tieghu mhedded b’mizuri li kienu qed
jittiehdu u li fl-opinjoni tal-kummercjanti u tal-mexxejja taghhom kienu mhux
biss qed irazznu il-kummerc izda kienu ta’ theddida ghal futur ta’ pajjizna
bhala stat fejn il-kummerc hieles seta’ jahdem, jikber u jaghti sehmu biex
ikabbar il-gid tal- pajjiz.

 


Fortunatament ghalina lkoll izda, dak
iz-zmien ghadda, illum kulhadd jaccetta l-principji ta’ ekonomija bbazata fuq
it-thaddiem tas-suq hieles bl-anqas intervent mill-istat u fejn l-imsiehba
socjali jinghataw spazju shih biex jahdmu ghal gid tal-pajjiz. Il-lum filwaqt li
l-GRTU ghadha thares lejn l-Unjoni Ewropeja bhala forza kbira u qawwija
fid-dinja favur id-demokrazija u l-valuri ta’ liberta fil-kummerc u thaddiem
tar-regoli tas-suq hieles li huma principji fundamentali u gheziez hafna
ghall-GRTU u l-imsiehba taghna. Il-GRTU illum m’ghadhiex tqies li hemm htiega,
akkost ta’ kollox, li nkunu fl-Unjoni Ewropeja, bhala salvagwardja
ghad-drittijiet taghna bhala negozjanti.

Il-GRTU ghadha temmen izda, li
jkun ahjar ghal pajjizna li jkun hemm tarka li tipprotegi lill-kummercjant Malti
pero dan mhux necessarjament billi Malta tissieheb fi blokk ekonomiku regjonali.
Ifisser dan allura li l-GRTU daret kontra s-Shubija ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni
Ewropeja, jew l-GRTU tqies li s-Shubija mhux tajba ghall- businessman Malti. Le,
mhux dan li qed tghid il-GRTU. Il-GRTU matul dawn l-ahhar snin, kemm ilhom li
bdew bis-serjeta’ l-preparattivi ghas-Shubija hassitha libera bhala Korp
Kostitwit Nazzjonali ewlieni li tersaq ghal ezercizzju twil u dettaljat ta’
konsultazzjoni kemm f’Malta kif ukoll fi Brussel, bla ebda pregudizzju favur jew
kontra. Il-GRTU bl-aktar mod oggettiv u pozittiv rat l-ewwelnett x’kien l-ahjar
interess tal-membri taghha u tas-setturi rapprezentati minnha b’mod generali u
wara dahlet ukoll fid-dettal ta’ x’kien jaqbel settur, settur.

B’mod
generali il-Kunsill Ezekuttiv tal-GRTU elenka principji fundamentali li fuqhom
ibbaza l-konsultazzjonijiet kollha u zgura li fil-konkluzzjoni ta’ kull Kapitlu
negozjat, dawn ikunu addottati. Il-GRTU ibbazat fuq dan:

ï‚· Liberta
ghas-self employed u s-sid tan–negozju Malti li jahdem bla xkiel u li jezercita’
l-professjoni tieghu
ï‚· Harsien tan-negozjant Malti mill-abbuzi ta’ dumping,
operat ta’ nies bla licenzja, operat minn nies bla kwalifika u kull abbuz iehor
li jxekkel il-kompetizzjoni gusta fis-suq intern Malti.
ï‚· Thaddiem ta’
sistema li filwaqt li tgholli l-istandards ma tohloqx rigidita zejda u pizijiet
bla bzonn.
ï‚· Holqien ta skemi ta’ assistenza finanzjarja, agevolazzjonijiet
fiskali, u fejn hemm bzonn progetti biex s-setturi li jistghu jintlaqtu hazin
isibu l-mezzi biex jaddottaw u jizviluppaw.
ï‚· Holqien ta’ instituzzjonijiet u
skemi biex is-self employed u n-negozjant Malti jkabbar il-kummerc tieghu u jkun
jista’ jiffaccja kull kompetizzjoni gejja minn fejn hi gejja.
ï‚· Skemi u
ghajnuniet biex matul is-snin in-negozjant Malti jkun f’pozizzjoni li jizviluppa
l-intrapriza tieghu biex jiehu l-vantaggi kollha li jinfethulu hekk kif Malta
tissieheb fis-Suq Wiehed kbir Ewropew.
ï‚· Ghajnuna lill-GRTU u ghaqdiet ohra
li jirraprezentaw lis-self employed u lin-negozjant Malti biex jinholqu skemi
godda ta’ tahrig u skemi godda li jwasslu l-entrepreneur Malti biex juza l-aktar
sistemi moderni ta’ komunikazzjoni elettronika li jghinuh ifendi fuq l-istess
livell tan-negozjanti l-ohra Ewropej.
ï‚· Assigurazzjoni li ma jsirux skemi li
minnhom jabbuzaw il-ftit biex jikkompetu ngustament fis-suq Malti kontra
n-negozji zghar Maltin.
ï‚· Fuq kollox assigurazzjoni li l-Gvern isib tarf
tal-problemi finanzjarji tieghu billi jgib finanzjamenti adekwati mill-Unjoni
Ewropeja biex tkun finanzjata l-bidla u r-ristruttura mehtiega minghajr ma
jkompli jghabbi aktar taxxi fuq in-negozjant Malti.
ï‚· Koperazzjoni
mill-Awtoritajiet kollha tal-Gvern biex is-self employed u n-negozjant Malti
jinghata kull opportunita’ u zmien bizzejjed biex ilahhaq
mal-bidla.

Il-GRTU hadmet bla gheda settur, settur u ppartecipat f’aktar
laqghat differenti tal-MEUSAC minn kull ghaqda ohra nazzjonali. Mijiet ta’
membri taghna ppartecipaw f’dan l-akbar ezercizzjoni ta’ konsultazzjoni li qatt
sar f’pajjizna. Idealment dan il-process kellu jsir fuq medda ta’ xi ghaxar snin
izda sfortunatament sar biss fuq perjodu qasir ta’ dawn l-ahhar ftit snin. Pero,
hu ta’ sodisfazzjon ghalina li wara tant sieghat ta’ konsultazzjoni, studji,
laqghat u negozjati, fl-ahhar pajjizna ghalaq in-negozjati kollha ma l-Unjoni
Ewropeja. L-esperjenza kollha kienet wahda pozittiva. Dan ifisser li l-pakkett
in-negozjat mill-Gvern hu tajjeb jew li hu tajjeb ghal kulhadd? Din hi
mistoqsija difficli hafna. Li tghid il-GRTU hu, li fil-kuntest ta’ dak li kien
possibli li jintlahaq, il-principji li fuqhom ahna bnejna l-proposti u
s-submissions taghna ntlahhqu u ghal setturi partikulari r-rapprezentati minna
saru ukoll arrangamenti specjali. Il-GRTU illum qed tghid li aktar milli
gudizzju fuq il-pakkett negozjat, in-negozjant Malti ghandu jiddeciedi dwar kemm
ghandu fiducja fil-hila tas-settur pubbliku li jhaddem l-iskemi kollha ta’
assistenza u support biex minn issa l’hemm dak li ghandu jsir jsir. Dan hu
commitment li l-GRTU ser tesigi bil-kbir.

Il-GRTU m’ghandha l-ebda dubju
li jekk l-poplu Malti jiddeciedi li jiehu it-triq tas-Shubija fl-Unjoni
Ewropeja, li s-self employed u n-negozjant Malti jkun lest li jilqa l-isfida u
jasal biex ikattar il-gid tieghu ghalih, ghal familja tieghu u ghal l-impjegati
tieghu, u li fuq kollox jghin fit-tkattir tal-gid ta’ pajjizna. Izda nalludu
ruhna jekk nahsbu li dan in-negozjant u l-imprenditur Malti jista’ jaghmlu
wahdu. Il-Gvern li ser imexxi lill-Malta jekk ser nissiehbu, irid ikun dinamiku
u kapaci li jhaddem b’kapacita kbira s-sistemi kollha u l-iskemi kollha ta’
support li jkunu disponibbli ghan-negozjant u s-self emloyed Malti.
L-entrepreneur Malti, aktar minn qatt qabel irid ixammar u jkun lest ghal
l-isfida. Dan lilna u lill-imsiehba taghna ma jbezzaghnix. Izda l-isfida irridu
niffaccjawha flimkien, settur pubbliku u settur privat flimkien u msiehba
socjali, employers u trade Unons, flimkien. Jekk nibqghu bil-marda tradizzjonali
taghna li naha ma tafdax lill-ohra u wahda tghid mod u naha ohra tghid iehor ma
naslux u hafna jbatu.

Illum il-GRTU mhux tghid lil-membri u lis-setturi
rapprezentati minnha, li Shubija fl-Unjoni Ewropeja hi l-unika ghazla.
Il-Kunsill Ezekuttiv u l-Laqgha Generali ddecidew li jhallu d-decizjoni ahharija
f’idejn is-sidien tan-negozji ndividwali. Dawn huma decision-makers u allahares
m’humiex kapaci jiddeciedu huma x’inhu l-ahjar ghalihom. Il-GRTU izda, mhux
qeghda gallarija. Il-GRTU qed tghin l-imsiehba taghha sezzjoni, sezzjoni biex
dawn ikunu jistghu jaslu ghal konkluzzjoni taghhom.

Il-GRTU tqis li din
il-kwistjoni mhix wahda biss ta’ natura ekonomika. Id-decizjoni ta’ Shubija
fl-Unjoni Ewropeja hi wahda li tolqotna hafna bhala self-employed u negozjanti
Maltin izda hi aktar minn hekk. Din l-kwistjoni hi munita b’zewg ucuh. Fuq naha
wahda hemm l-aspetti ekonomici, kummercjali, industrijali u ta’ xoghol u ta’
thaddim tas-suq hieles. Fuq in-naha l-ohra hemm il-kwistjonijiet l-ohra:
l-kwistjoni tas-sovranita’ u tan-newtralita’ u r-rabtiet li l-poplu Malti jrid
li jkollu ma’ din l-familja kbira ta’ pajjizi Ewropej li bhalna batew mit-tifrik
tal-ahhar gwerra u li bhalna jhaddnu l-principji ta’ demokrazija u liberta’, u
l-kwistjoni kollha tas-sigurezza u d-difiza ta’ pajizna u l-harsien kulturali u
ambjentali taghna.

Il-GRTU tqis li ghandha kompetenzi u hu l-obbligu
taghha li tezercita dawn il-kompetenzi fuq l-ewwel naha tal-munita, dawk
kummercjali, ekonomici u finanzjarji. Fuq dawn il-GRTU qed titkellem u titkellem
bla tlaqliq. Fuq il-kwistjonijiet l-ohrajn ghalkemm ahna Malti b’responsabilta’
ghandna opinjonijiet, ma nhossux izda li hi il-kompetenza taghna li naghtu
pariri. U ghalhekk li ahna qed inhallu il-gudizzju totali dwar is-Shubija
f’idejn l-imsiehba ndividwali.

Xtaqna u ghamilna hilitna kollha biex
inwasslu l-mexxejja politici ta’ pajizna u l-imsiehba socjali halli jaqblu fuq
x’inhi l-ahjar ghazla ghal pajjizna. Mhux tort taghna u ta’ l-ebda Korp
Kostitwit li dan ma sarx. Id-dwejjaq taghna illum, infatti huma li jekk pajjizna
qieghed f’salib it-toroq, il-poplu illum hu mifrud. Kieku hu mifrud fi zminijiet
tajbin, kieku forsi mhux tant ta’ inkwiet. Il-kerha izda hi li pajjizna illum
qieghed fi stat li ma jistax jibqa fih aktar.

Pajjizna llum ghandu
problemi ekonomici serji. Id-dejn nazzjonali lahaq livelli allarmanti. Jekk mhux
ser niehdu decizjonijiet serji dan ser jibqa’ tiela b’dannu ghalina lkoll u ghal
uliedna. Id-deficit fil-finanzi pubblici mhux vera li qed jissewwa u dan qed
johloq sitwazzjoni kerha ghax kull sena il-gvern jrid jaghsar is-settur privat
aktar, jrid jiddejjen aktar u l-ekonomija Maltija ma tistax ghalhekk tikber
b’ritmu ta’ tkattir akbar. Fis-sena 2001 waqajna f’ricessjoni li bil-mod qed
ninqalghu minnha. Biex pajjizna jsewwi l-problemi li ghandu jrid aktar
investiment u jrid izid bil-kbir il-produzzjoni nazzjonali. Hu biss bit-tkattir
ekonomiku ta’ aktar minn 4% f’termini reali fis-sena fuq medda ta’ snin li
nistghu nibdew ikollna s-surpluses li l-ekonomija Maltija ghandha bzonn biex
nibdew inrazznu u nnaqqsu d-dejn nazzjonali. Hu biss bit-tkattir ekonomiku fuq
livelli hafna aktar gholja minn dawk li Malta hi kapaci tohloq illum
bil-kapacitajiet eziztenti li nistghu naslu biex nsolvu darba ghal dejjem
il-problema enormi tad-deficit pubbliku.

L-ahwa, ejjew ma nalludux ruhna.
Pajjizna ghandu problemi kbar. Dawn il-problemi mhux ser nsolvuhom jekk mhux ser
nsibu zbokk gdid ghal ekonomija Maltija. Mill-Independenza sal-lum morna tajjeb
hafna. Issa qisu li ghasarna kull possibilita’ li ttina aktar tkabbir u dhalna
fi sqaq. Bilfors irridu nohorgu minn dan l-isqaq. Ghalhekk id-deficit. Ghalhekk
id-djun. Ghalhekk il-cash flow problems. Dan il-pajjiz irid zbokk gdid. Irridu
bilfors niddeciedu. Iz-zmien hu kontrina. Haddiehor qieghed jiddeciedi u ser
jaqdef il-quddiem. Waqt li m’ahniex niddeciedu l-incertezza dwar il-futur ta’
pajjizna qed tkompli tkissirna. Irridu niddeciedu, u minn imexxi jrid iwettaq
ir-rieda taghna.

Il-GRTU talbet studji ekonomici dwar l-impatt
tal-ghazliet li ghandu quddiemu l-poplu. Dawn il-gvern m’ghamilhomx u l-ghaqdiet
li jirraprezentaw il-kummerc u l-industrija ghalhekk ghamluhom huma. Ir-rapport
ekonomiku nkarigat mill-Korpi Kostitwiti u mfassal mill-ekonomist ewlieni
l-Professur Ali Bayar juri li meta pajjiz, hu liema hu, u jekk b’mod partikulari
jkun pajjiz ckejken bhal Malta meta jissieheb b’mod intelligenti suq regjonali
kbir u l-pajjiz jilliberalizza u jirristruttura l-ekonomija biex ifendi f’dan
is-suq, l-ekonomija tal-pajjiz tikber b’rati ta’ tkabbir hafna akbar milli kieku
l-pajjiz jibqa jfendi ghar-rasu, wahdu. Dan hu gudizzju importanti hafna ghal
pajjizna.

Dan il-cost/benefit analysis dwar is-Shubija ta’ Malta fis-suq
wiehed Ewropej flimkien mal-kompetituri taghna mill-pajjizi tal-Lvant u c-Centru
tal-Ewropa jgib mieghu bl-aktar mod car li s-Shubija ta’ Malta f’dan is-Suq
ikollha l-effett tat-tkattir sostanzjali fir-ritmu ta’ zvulupp ta’ pajjizna. Dan
l-istudju juri li jekk nibqghu kif ahna l-ekonomija taghna tibqa’ tkarkar u ma
tikbirx bizzejjed waqt li s-Shubija fis-suq singolu kbir Ewropew iggibilna
opportunitajiet godda. Dawn l-opportunitajiet jirrizultaw f’livell ta’ nfieq
aktar fis-suq intern Malti, aktar flus fl-idejn u zieda konsistenti fil-livell
generali ta’ konsum u fid-domanda ghas-servizzi u prodotti tan-negozjant Malti.
Prof. Bayar ikejjel ukoll l-alternattivi u ma jqies li dawn huma ta’ paragun ma’
dawn il-konkluzjonijiet.

Sfortunatament m’ghandniex studji ohra ekonomici
ta’ kwalita li fuqhom nistghu noqoghdu. Ghalhekk ahna qed nghidu abbazi
tal-informazzjoni li ghandna quddiemna li l-isfidi u l-bidliet li ghandna
quddiemna ma jbezzughniex u hu ghalhekk li ahna m’ahniex bl-ebda mod naqtghu
nifisna jew mbezzghu lill-imsiehba taghna. Ahna certi minn haga wahda: jekk
pajjizna ma jsibx l-izbokk li ghandu bzonn, kif ahna ser naslu.

Illum
gibnilkom hawn kelliema tal-ghola livell biex jghinukom taslu ghal-konkluzzjoni
gusta. Il-kelliema mill-Euro Commerce, mill-UEAPME u mill-hbieb taghna
tal-Portugal huma ta’ l-ghola livell. L-istess ir-rapprezentanti tal-Kummissjoni
Ewropeja. Il-mexxejja Politici Maltin fl-ahhar jghaddulna l-gudizzju taghhom.
Isimghu u saqsu. Il-parir tal-GRTU hu: ghamlu il-kalkoli taghkom, iddeciedu, u
fit-8 ta’ Marzu 2003 esprimu bic-car d-decizjoni taghkom. Nawguralkom nofs ta’
nhar ta’ sodisfazzjon. Nirringrazzjakom li gejtu taqsmu maghna dan il-Hadd u
nirringrazzja lill-kollegi tieghi fil-GRTU u lill-dawk kollha li ghenuna biex
din l-okkazzjoni tal-lum tkun possibli.

Diskors tal-Onor Dr Eddie Fenech Adami waqt Konferenza Nazzjonali 23 ta’ Frar 2003

Huwa b’sodisfazzjon kbir li llum qiegħed magħkom għal din
il-Konferenza Nazzjonali. Bla dubju ta’ xejn, wieħed mill-ikbar suÄ‹Ä‹essi
tal-Gvern immexxi minni kien il-liberalizzazzjoni tal-qasam tal-kummerċ. Qiegħed
ngħid dan hawn għax il-qofol ta’ dan is-suÄ‹Ä‹ess kontu intom. Intom li minkejja
l-kliem ta’ dawk li bdew ibeżżgħu li l-kompetizzjoni mhix tajba għal Malta
ikkompetejtu. Intom li minkejja l-kliem ta’ dawk li qalu li l-liberalizzazzjoni
ser iġġib il-qgħad, ħloqtu postijiet tax-xogħol għal ħaddiema Maltin. Intom li
ma bżajtux u ħdimtu biex Malta ma baqatx maqfula fiha nnifisha. Matul is-snin
ħdimna biex niżguraw li intom ikollkom kull għajnuna sabiex tgħelbu l-isfidi li
Ä¡Ä¡ib il-kompetizzjoni.

 

Illum pajjiżna għandu sfida ġdida. Hu importanti li
jiġi enfasizzat li l-kwistjoni li għandna quddiemna hija waħda Nazzjonali.
Il-poplu Malti dejjem għaraf il-mument li fih irid jiddeċiedi bħala poplu. Illum
qed ngħixu fi żmien bħal dan. Hi deċiżjoni li l-poplu Malti jrid jieħu għaliex
taffetwana lkoll, kemm jekk aħna mpjegati, kemm jekk aħna rtirati, kemm jekk
aħna żgħażagħ, kemm jekk aħna nisa tad-dar. Iżda żgur u mhux lanqas, taffetwana
jekk aħna self-employed jew proprjetarji ta’ negozji żgħar jew kbar. Hu x’inhu
n-natura tax-xogħol li mmexxu, kemm jekk hu xogħol ta’ snajja jew trasport,
xogħol ta’ biedja jew sajd, xogħol ta’ servizzi jew professjoni, u aktar u aktar
xogħol ta’ intraprendenza u xogħol ta’ ħwienet.
Id-deċiżjoni li jrid jieħu
pajjiżna fit-8 ta’ Marzu tolqot żgur u bil-kbir lil kull min qiegħed
fin-negozju. Dawn forsi aktar minn kull settur ieħor iridu jiddeċiedu u jieħdu
deÄ‹iżjoni tajba. Ilkoll flimkien in-negozji ż-żgħar ta’ pajjiżna jiffurmaw aktar
minn disgħin fil-mija tal-intrapriżi tagħna, u jinkludi flimkien l-impjieg ta’
aktar minn ħamsa u għoxrin elf persuna. Għalhekk illum bla dubju ta’ xejn
insejħulhom is-sinsla ta’ pajjiżna. Iż-żgħir tal-bieraħ hu l-kbir tal-lum,
il-kbir ta’ għada hu ż-żgħir tal-lum. Intom li qegħdin fin-negozju ħobżkom,
fluskom, l-interessi kollha tagħkom u ta’ dawk li jridu minnkom, il-familji
tagħkom, il-ħaddiema tagħkom u x-xerrejja tagħkom, huma marbutin bil-kbir
mal-futur ta’ pajjiżna.
Intom decision-makers. Min ma jkunx kapaċi jiddeċiedi
sewwa fin-negozju ma jfendix. Intom li taħdmu għal raskom żgur ma tistgħux
toqogħdu lura quddiem din id-deċiżjoni hekk importanti għall-futur tagħna lkoll.
Ma tistgħux tħallu lil ħaddieħor jiddeċiedi għalikom u intom tibqgħu gallerija.
Tridu tiddeċiedu.
Il-Gvern immexxi minni matul dawn l-aħħar snin ta l-akbar
spazju possibbli lil kull min jirrappreżenta lin-nies li jaħdmu għal rashom
bħala sidien tal-ħwienet u negozjanti, jew self-employed minn kull qasam, biex
jikkontribwixxu direttament fil-preparazzjonijiet kollha li l-gvern kien qed
jagħmel biex ikunu negozjati l-aħjar kundizzjonijiet għas-sħubija ta’ Malta
fl-Unjoni Ewropea. Aħna qatt ma kellna dubju li s-sħubija ta’ Malta f’għaqda
ġenwina mal-pajjiżi ħielsa tal-Ewropa kienet ser issaħħaħna minn kull lat.
Bis-sħubija ser immorru aħjar ekonomikament, ser insaħħu l-kultura tagħna, ser
intejbu l-ambjent u l-edukazzjoni. Fuq kollox sħubija fl-Unjoni Ewropea ser
tagħti aktar sikurezza lill-pajjiżna. Għalkemm dejjem emminna fl-ideali ta’
l-Unjoni Ewropea fhimna li rridu nirranġaw il-libsa sabiħa Ewropea biex
toqgħodilna sewwa. L-iskop ewlieni tan-negozjati kien għalhekk biex ikun żgurat
li dak li ma kienx joqgħodilna sewwa nirranÄ¡awh. NerÄ¡a’ ngħid: qatt ma kellna
dubju dwar l-importanza u l-vantaġġ tas-Sħubija, xogħolna iżda kien li s-sħubija
nagħmluha aktar soda.
Il-GRTU f’isimkom, sezzjoni sezzjoni, u settur settur
rappreżentat minnha, flimkien mal-għaqdiet l-oħra li jirrapreżentaw lin-negozji
ta’ pajjiżna, bħall-FOI, il-Kamra tal-KummerÄ‹ u l-MHRA, kif ukoll in-numru bla
qies ta’ assoÄ‹jazzjonijiet li jirrapreżentaw oqsma differenti tal-firxa ta’ nies
li jaħdmu għal rashom, kollha ġew ikkonsultati matul dawn in-negozjati. Mhux
biss ikkonsultati u mistiedna jagħmlu l-analiżi tas-settur tagħhom u
jipparteċipaw direttament fit-tfassil tad-dokument li kien ippreparat
għan-negozjati, iżda baqgħu jiġu kkonsultati sal-aħħar ukoll wara r-risposti
finali mill-Unjoni Ewropea. Qatt fl-istorja ta’ Malta ma saret konsultazzjoni
hekk wiesa’.
Min ma pparteÄ‹ipax f’dan l-eżerÄ‹izju enormi li fih ipparteÄ‹ipaw
tant nies mhux faÄ‹li japprezza l-qabża ta’ kwalità li qed issir f’pajjiżna. Ma
jistax jifhem li l-bidla l-aktar importanti li rridu nagħmlu bħala Maltin biex
nipparteÄ‹ipaw bħala ugwali, b’ħila u bi dritt, f’din il-familja kbira tagħna
Ewropeja diÄ¡à saret. Għalhekk, kull min hu f’sensih ma jistax jifhem kif għad
hawn min qed jipprova jbeżża’ l-Maltin mill-bidla. DiÄ¡à bdejna mixjin, il-bidla
diÄ¡à qed issir, b’konsultazzjoni mhux b’impożizzjoni u r-riżultati bdew jidhru.
Ma jaqbel għal ħadd li issa nieqfu u nitfgħu kollox lura. U għalfejn?
Għaliex?
Dawk kollha li pparteÄ‹ipaw magħna, ma’ kapijiet tad-dipartimenti u
tal-awtoritajiet u korporazzjonijiet statali, tgħallmu x’inhi u kif taħdem
l-Unjoni Ewropea. Dawn in-nies kollha fehmu li l-bidla f’pajjiżna bdiet. Jafu li
r-ritmu beda u jkun ta’ ħsara jekk jitwaqqaf, u mhu interessat ħadd minnhom li
jwaqqfu.
F’dawk il-laqgħat ta’ konsultazzjonijiet ix-xogħol sar b’reqqa
kbira. Ä ie studjat kull pass, sar analiżi ta’ settur settur tax-xogħol li qatt
qabel pajjiżna ma ra bħalu. Qed jitwaqqfu istituzzjonijiet, isiru liġijiet ġodda
u jinbidlu regolamenti li dwarhom sar ftehim. Sar ftehim għaliex huma kollha
immirati biex nibdlu l-mod kif sal-lum saru l-affarijiet f’pajjiżna. Saru fuq
mudell, dak tal-Unjoni Ewropea, dak il-famuż acquis komunitarju, li mhu xejn
għajr l-esperjenzi u l-kompromessi ta’ dak kollu li Ä¡ie miftiehem mill-Imsieħba
Soċjali Ewropej. U mhux qed isiru għax imposti minn xi ħadd. Qed isiru għax
l-Imsieħba SoÄ‹jali, flimkien mal-Gvern, qed jaqblu fuq x’inhu l-aħjar interess
ta’ pajjiżna.
Għax fl-Unjoni Ewropea m’hemmx xi gvern li jimponi. Hemm
istituzzjonijiet immexxija minn nies nominati mill-gvernijiet eletti mill-popli
ta’ pajjiżi msieħba, kollha gvernijiet eletti demokratikament. Kull deÄ‹iżjoni,
direttiva u regolament li jgħaddu hi frott tal-konsultazzjoni. Skond it-Trattat
ta’ Ruma li hu l-pern li jħaddem is-sistemi kollha tal-Unjoni Ewropea,
l-Imsieħba SoÄ‹jali, b’mod partikolari r-rappreżentanti tas-Sidien u
tal-Ħaddiema, u dawk tas-SoÄ‹jetà ÄŠivili, inklużi s-self-employed u proprjetarji
ta’ negozji żgħar, iridu bilfors ikunu konsultati.
Din il-bidla lejn
is-sistema aktar parteċipattiva, bbażata fuq sistemi u regolamenti li jirregolaw
u jgħassu wieħed lil ieħor biex l-ebda settur, hu x’inhu, ma jinqatax u ma jkunx
eskluż, diÄ¡à bdiet taħdem f’pajjiżna. Mhux il-Gvern immexxi minni wettaq dan.
Wettaqnih aħna lkoll flimkien. Il-mexxejja tal-għaqdiet tagħkom jafu x’jien
ngħid, u kollha mill-kbir saż-żgħir ħadmu kemm felħu biex wasalna fejn
wasalna.
Dan ix-xogħol kollu għamilnieh flimkien għax nemmnu li flimkien
irridu nieħdu postna fejn jixirqilna. Tinħass ma’ dawk kollha li ħadmu
fil-MEUSAC u fl-attivitajiet kollha ta’ konsultazzjoni. Pero m’għamilniex hekk
għax rajna l-gwadann partikolari tagħna. Bħala individwi għamilnieh għax
tgħallimna flimkien li pajjiżna jixraqlu u hu kapaċi jinbidel għall-aħjar. Huma
dawk li rrifjutaw li jipparteċipaw fil-proċess li issa qed jippruvaw ibeżżgħu.
Huma dawk li ma riedux din il-bidla għall-aħjar li qegħdin ngħixu, li issa
jriduna lkoll inħottu dak li aħna flimkien bnejna b’tant għaqal u bżulija. U
nħottuh għalfejn?
Biex immorru fejn? Nerġgħu lura ma nistgħux. Kien tajjeb
kemm kien tajjeb dak kollu li għamilna lkoll flimkien b’suÄ‹Ä‹ess
mill-Indipendenza ’l hawn issa wasal fiż-żmien tiegħu. Il-figuri ekonomiÄ‹i qed
juru biċ-ċar li pajjiżna jrid żbokk ġdid. Il-Gvern qed jagħmel dak kollu li hu
possibli biex ikabbar l-ekonomija u joħloq opportunitajiet ġodda, u l-ġid u
t-tkabbir tan-negozji matul dan l-aħħar sittax-il sena kollha jixhdu li Malta
qatt ma rat daqshekk Ä¡id. Irridu nkompluh dan ir-ritmu ta’ Ä¡id. Biex jitkompla,
iżda, l-ekonomisti qed jgħidulna, irridu żbokk ġdid.
Tkellem il-gvernatur
tal-Bank ÄŠentrali tal-lum, tkellmu l-gvernaturi tal-Banek ÄŠentrali ta’ qablu,
kemm Francis Vassallo li għamilnieh aħna, kif ukoll Lino Spiteri li mexxa l-Bank
ÄŠentrali għal tant snin taħt Gvern Laburista. Tkellmu l-ekonomisti kollha ta’
esperjenza f’pajjiżna. Kollha kelma waħda, li Malta biex timxi aktar `l quddiem,
issaħħaħ lilha nnifisha bħala nazzjon u ssaħħaħ l-ekonomija tagħha, trid żbokk
Ä¡did. Dan l-iżbokk hu identifikat b’mod l-aktar Ä‹ar mill-esperti kollha li
qabbadna aħna u li qabdu l-għaqdiet li jirrapreżentaw in-negozji, il-kummerċ u
l-industriji inklużi l-GRTU. Kollha fehma waħda: Malta biex tkompli tissoda trid
tingħaqad fl-Unjoni Ewropea. Is-sistemi tal-Unjoni Ewropea huma tajbin għal
Malta. IÄ¡ibu magħhom aktar serjetà fit-tħaddim tal-ekonomija, jħaddnu forom li
huma aktar konsultattivi u parteċipattivi, jesprimu aktar fiduċja, jkattru
l-kummerċ u jkattru x-xogħol.
L-istudju ekonomiku dettaljat instigat
mill-għaqdiet tal-kummerÄ‹ u l-industrija stess, dak maħdum mill-ekonomista ta’
fama internazzjonali, il-Professur Bayar, juri biċ-ċar li Malta fl-Unjoni
Ewropea tkabbar bil-kbir il-kummerċ. Il-Professur Bayar juri fid-dettal kif
jiżdied l-infieq, jogħla bil-kbir il-livell ta’ konsum f’pajjiżna u dan għaliex
l-ekonomija titħaddem aħjar, jinġieb aktar investiment minn barra, jikbru
s-setturi kummerÄ‹jali u industrijali u t-turiżmu f’pajjiżna, u jinħoloq aktar
xogħol.
Juri kif bis-sħubija fl-Unjoni Ewropea, Malta tkun tista’ tgawdi
mir-rata ta’ żvilupp tal-ekonomija nazzjonali tagħha b’żieda ta’ ħamsa punt
disgħa fil-mija fuq ir-rata li kapaÄ‹i nwettqu waħedna jekk ma nidħlux. B’din
ir-rata ta’ żvilupp hekk qawwi, nkunu nistgħu nieħdu ħsieb aħjar il-problema
tad-dejn nazzjonali, inkunu nistgħu nsolvu darba għal dejjem il-problema
tal-Budget Deficit bla ħtieÄ¡a ta’ aktar taxxi. B’rata qawwija ta’ żvilupp inkunu
nistgħu ngħollu l-istandard of living tagħna mingħajr ħtieÄ¡a ta’ piżijiet
fiskali Ä¡odda.
Il-Professur Bayar, u rapporti oħra li saru, kejlu wkoll
l-alternattiva, dik li nibqgħu kif aħna b’association agreement, jew kif qed
isejħulha issa ‘Partnership’. Huma x’inhuma l-kundizzjonijiet fi ftehim bħal
dan, bilfors li jkunu nferjuri għal dak li akkwistajna lkoll flimkien. Kull
espert li tkellimna miegħu, ekonomisti Maltin u barranin, industrijalisti ta’
fama u esperti minn kull qasam tax-xogħol, kollha fehma waħda. M’hemmx paragun
bejn sħubija u din li qed tissejjaħ ‘Partnership’. Jgħidulna l-awtorijtajiet u
kapijiet kollha ta’ gvernijiet li tkellimna magħhom. M’hemmx paragun.
Il-Professur Bayar fl-analiżi tiegħu wera wkoll biÄ‹-Ä‹ar kif il-kummerÄ‹ f’kull
qasam jibqa’ staÄ¡nat u ma jikbirx, jekk flok sħubija nibqgħu kif aħna kif
fil-fatt isir f’Partnership. Dan għaliex ma jkunx hemm l-iżbokk li l-ekonomija
Maltija għandha bżonn. Bla żbokk ġdid il-kummmerċ ibati. Bi sħubija l-kummerċ
jikber bil-kbir.
Għalhekk, ħbieb tiegħi, ngħidilkom li intom li tridu
mill-kummerÄ‹, intom li tridu mit-tkabbir tal-ekonomija, m’għandkomx għażla.
L-għażla għalikom żgur li hi waħda: sħubija fl-Unjoni Ewropea llum qabel għada.
Kieku qed tqisu biss ix-xogħol tagħkom, u l-ġid tan-negozju tagħkom, tal-familji
tagħkom u tal-impjegati tagħkom, diÄ¡à hu biżżejjed biex tgħidu ‘IVA’.
Iżda
barra dan kollu hemm l-interess nazzjonali. Pajjiżna jixraqlu jieħu postu
fl-Ewropa Waħda. Aħna l-Maltin soffrejna tant biex l-Ewropa llum hi ħielsa
mill-biża tal-gwerra. Xerridna demmna biex l-Ewropa ħelset minn tant terrur li
minn żmien għal żmien ħakem il-Kontinent Ewropew matul is-sekli. L-akbar terrur
forsi tas-seklu l-ieħor, in-Naziżmu u l-Faxxiżmu. Aħna li naqsmu ma’ l-Ewropej
il-valuri tagħna kulturali, ta’ libertà u ta’ demokrazija, ta’ ħajja fis-sigurtà
u ta’ serħan il-moħħ, kif jista’ jkollna qalb ngħidu LE għal din l-opportunità
tad-deheb li ħdimna għalih ilkoll. Kif jista’ jkun li, meta f’April li Ä¡ej
id-disgħa pajjiżi l-oħra li bħalna ħadmu biex jissieħbu fl-Unjoni Ewropea
jiffirmaw it-Trattat tas-Sħubija tagħhom fl-Unjoni Ewropea, aħna nkunu l-uniku
pajjiż li ma nkunux hemm. Kif jista’ jkun li aħna ma nkunux hemm bi dritt f’jum
ta’ festa hekk kbira għal Ewropej kollha.
Alla ħabbna lilna l-Maltin. Tagħna
opportunità tad-deheb għal futur mill-aqwa. Kif jista’ jkun li ngħidu LE.
Għalhekk ngħidilkom l-għażla hi waħda: dik ta’ sħubija fl-Unjoni Ewropea.
Nixtieqkom ħbieb tiegħi li toħorÄ¡u minn hawn konvinti li fit-8 ta’ Marzu tagħmlu
dmirkom. Il-vot IVA tagħkom tibqgħu tiftakruh għal għomorkom kollu. Tiftaħru
fis-snin li Ä¡ejjin, intom stess u ma’ uliedkom, li meta l-Maltin intalbu biex
jiddeċiedu, intom kontu hemm. Li intom dmirkom għamiltuh. Li intom kontu hemm u
għedtu IVA.

 

Is-Sehta tal-Gwerer

Is-Seklu 20

L-Istorja tad-dinja, iz-zminijet kollha li
fihom ghex il-bniedem, jirriflettu l-effett tal-gwerer u ta’ kull forma ta’
vjolenza. Ghalkemm is-seklu ghoxrin ma kienx differenti mis-sekli ta’ qablu,
kien differenti izda fuq livell ta’ skala tal-gwerer. Kien is-seklu li fih
id-dinja ghaddiet minn konflitti li verament firex mad-dinja kollha. Il-gwerer
tal-ahhar seklu kienu gwerer li laqtu pajjizi minn kull parti tad-dinja. U mhux
gwerra wahda mondjali izda tnejn.


Xi skolari tal-istorja jsostnu li
fil-fatt iz-zewg gwerer mondjali tas-seklu ghoxrin kienu verament wahda
b’intervall ta’ numru ta’ snin ta’ paci. Mill-lat tal-pajjizi Ewropej dan
probabli li hu vera, izda t-tieni gwerra mondjali tant involviet pajjizi ohra
mid-dinja kollha li f’ta’ l-ewwel ma kienux mdahhla u il-fatt li l-Gapan,
f’wahda kien fuq naha u fl-ohra kien fuq in-naha l-ohra, li fil-fatt juri li
s-seklu ghoxrin jitnizzel bhala s-seklu taz-zewg gwerer mondjali. L-argument ta’
gwerra wahda izda hu b’sahhta ghaliex effetwa tlett kwarti mis-seklu ghoxrin.
Is-seklu li ghadda kien f’tenzjoni wahda twila li kienet tinkludi l-perjodu ta’
qabel l-ewwel gwerra, il-perjodu ta’ bejn il-gwerer, it-tieni gwerra u l-perjodu
kollu tal-“cold war”, il-gwerra bierda, li baqa prattikament ghaddej sal-waqgha
tal-hajt ta’ Berlin u t-tmiem tal-Kommunizmu. Il-gwerer l-ohra kollha mad-dinja
kollha matul dan il-perjodu, dik tal-Korea, tal-Vietnam, tal-Kombodju, gwerrer
fl-Afrika u fl-Amerka Latina, kienu fil-fatt kollha episodji mdemma tat-tenzjoni
li kienet tezisti bejn il-forzi ewlenin fid-dinja tas-seklu
ghoxrin.

L-Ewropa
L-ahhar gwerra mondjali giet imwaqqfa b’mod
li r-rivalita’ enormi bejn il-forzi opposti li rrizultaw mit-tmiem tal-gwerra
giet aktar kristallizata. Stramba din ghaliex fl-ahhar gwerra l-forzi rivali ta’
wara l-gwerra, l-Amerka u l-Unjoni Sovjetika, kien fil-fatt fuq l-istess naha.
It-tmiem tal-ahhar gwerra mondjali tefa’ lil hafna pajjizi Ewropej, fic-Centru
tal-Ewropa, fil-Lvant tal-Ewropa u fil-Balkani fi stat ta’ okkupazzjoni
mir-Russi u taht sistema li ma kienetx l-ghazla tal-poplu u l-ghazla li ghalija
kienu soffrew fl-ahhar gwerra. It-tragedja ta’ dawn il-popli li ggieldu
n-Nazzizmu biex jirbhu l-liberta u d-demokrazija u spiccaw taht regimi
kommunisti baqghet ghaddejja sal-bidu tad-disghinijiet. Ghalhekk hafna jitkellmu
fuq il-gwerra bla tmiem tas-seklu ghoxrin. Ghax gwerra mhux l-imwiet, it-tifrik
u l-hruxijiet ta’ waqt l-azzjoni biss, izda wkoll it-tbatijiet u t-tenzjonijiet
li l-popli jghaddu minnhom waqt il-perjodu kollu tal-kunflitt. Generazzjonijiet
shah ta’ nies u popli shah isoffru bil-kbir b’rizultat ta’ gwerrer u
tenzjonijiet u konflitti li jkunu mgebbda fuq ghexieren ta’ snin. L-Ewropa
ghandha storja ta’ dmija, hruxija u tbatija kkawzata mill-firda fost il-popli
Ewropej, li tizboq lil regjuni ohra.

Gwerer u mwiet
Is-seklu ghoxrin
taghna gwerer u dittetorjali li ma jibqghux mfakkra biss minhabba ragunijet ta’
konkwisti u problemi geografici. Dawn il-gwerer kienu differenti jekk mhux wkoll
innovettivi f’dak li hu livell enormi ta’ mwiet li ikkawzaw. It-tabella li qed
nuri, mehuda mill-ktieb ta’ R.J Rummel “Death by Government” turi n-numru enormi
ta’ persuni li gew maqtula fil-gwerra tas-sekli li hrigna minnu. Vera li n-numri
huma stimi ragonevoli, ghax hadd fi gwerra ma joqghod jaqta’ l-ismijiet ta’ dawk
li jmutu u hafna mwiet isiru f’pajjizi fejn ir-regim li jmexxi jkollu interess
li jahbi l-verita. Il-figuri, izda, juru ndikazzjoni cara tal-orrur bla qies ta’
dak li gara fis-seklu ghoxrin.
Meta il-figuri juru n-numru ta’ dawk
“associated with war”, in-numri juru nies li gew maqtula mill-gvernijiet taghhom
stess (per ezempju l-qtiel minn Nazisti fil-Germanja) jew qtiel li sar
mill-gvernijiet li invadew u okkupaw pajjizi ohra (per ezempju n-Nazisti
Germanizi) waqt, jew qabel, jew wara l-gwerra. Juru wkoll l-imwiet li graw fi
gwerrer civili, f’konflitti interni msahhna bl-effett tal-kunflitti
internazzjonali (per ezempju dak li gara fic-Cina fit-tletinijiet). Juru wkoll
in-numru ta’ nies li mietu bil-guh li gie kkawzat bil-gwerrer. Dawn l-imwiet
jigru mhux ghax ma jkunx hemm ikel, rari jsir hekk, izda l-imwiet jkunu kkawzati
mit-tkissir u tharbit tas-sistemi tad-distribuzzjoni tal-ikel li jissucidi
mill-azzjoni tal-gwerra u mill-azzjonijiet tal-gvernijiet u l-awtoritajiet
militari.

L-azzjonijiet
li ghalihom jkunu responsabbli l-gvernijiet tal-pajjizi mdahhla fil-gwerrer
jirraprezentaw l-akbar kategorija ta’ mwiet. Il-figura ta’ 97 miljun ruh li
mietu fl-Unjoni Sovjetika u fic-Cina Kommunista minhabba ragunijiet marbutin
mal-gwerer hi verament allarmanti. Vera li hemm argument dwar kemm hi korretta
din l-istima, hemm min jghid li hi baxxa hafna u min jghid li hi gholja wisq,
izda verament jekk mietu 60 miljun jew hux 140 miljun, il-fatt jibqa’ li hi
cifra devastanti.
Guh u sfrattu

Il-mexxej Kommunista Stalin darba qal
li “mewt ta’ bniedem wahdu hi tragedja, mewt ta’ miljun ruh hi biss statistika”.
Pero din hi l-istatistika li taghti verament is-sens ta’ orrur li ggib maghha
il-gwerra. Kien hemm imwiet li saru direttament fl-azzjoni tal-gwerra. Ohrajn
qtil ordnat mill-gvernijiet, ohrajn imwiet fil-kampijiet ta’ koncentrament u
ohrajn (bhal fil-kaz tar-Revoluzzjoni Kulturali ta’ Cina li grat bejn l-1996 u
l-1976) imwiet ikkawzati mill-anarkija organizzata mill-istess gvern. Pero
l-akbar numru ta’ mwiet ta’ nies innocenti rrizulta mill-guh li hakem l-Unjoni
Sovjetika u c-Cina fiz-zminijiet differenti meta l-azzjonijiet tal-gvernijiet
rivoluzzjonarji ta’ dawn il-pajjizi enermi gabu konfuzjoni u kaos totali
fil-produzzjoni u distribuzzjoni ta’ ikel minhabba decizjonijiet u strategiji
politici ghal kollox zbaljati.

Kien hemm gwerer u tragedji kefrien bhal
dawk tal-Kambodja fejn ir-regim tal-Khmer Rouge ta’ PolPot qatel mat-tletin
fil-mija tal-populazzjoni ta’ pajjizu u tal-Vietnam fejn aktar minn miljun ruh
mietu kawza tal-konfuzjoni u l-mibgheda li gie rrizultat mill-kunflitt bejn
il-Vietnam ta’ Fuq u l-Vietnma ta’ Isfel. Kien hemm wkoll il-qtil brutali li
graw fl-Indonesja fejn tlett kwarti ta’ miljun ruh mietu meta gie suppress
il-poplu meta qam kontra ir-regim li kienu jahkmu. Kien hemm ukoll l-massakri
aktar ricenti tad-disghinijiet li graw fir-Rwanda fl-Afrika, u ohrajn fl-Afrika
wkoll bhal tal-Angola, tal-Kongo, tas-Sudan, tal-Etjopja, tas-Samalia, tas-Sud
Afrika, tar-Rhodesia, tac-Cad, tal-Algerija. Kemm mietu fil-Korea ta’ Fuq
il-bambin biss jaf.
Li hu zgur hu li s-seklu ghoxrin, dak li ser jibqa’
mnizzel fl-istorja bhala s-seklu li gap mieghu l-akbar progress fil-medicina,
fl-agrikoltura, u fix-xjenza u t-teknologija li bihom il-popli tad-dinja setghu
jghixu ahjar, jghixu aktar u jmutu anqas, kien ukoll is-seklu ta’ l-akbar
massakri u l-akbar numru ta’ mwiet li graw kawza tal-gwerer. Kien verament
is-Seklu tal-progress u tad-dmugh.

Is-seklu l-Gdid

Issa dhalna
fit-tielet millenju. Seklu gdid. Millenju gdid. Wara l-waqgha tal-hajt ta’
Berlin u l-waqgha tal-Kommunizmu u r-risorgiment ta’ tama gdida ghal zmien ta’
paci u progress li bhalu d-dinja qatt ma rat, ergajna bit-tidwien tal-gwerrer.
Suppost li l-gwerra kontra t-terrorizmu li zvolgiet wara t-tragedja tal-11 ta’
Settembru 2001, u issa wkoll il-gwerra ppjanata kontra Saddam, jekk mhux ukoll
kontra l-Korea, huma mahsuba biex jeqirdu t-theddid ta’ aktar gwerrer u aktar
imwiet.

L-argument kollu hu li analizi tal-gwerrer tas-seklu ghoxrin juri
li l-perm ta’ kollox dejjem ikunu estremisti li mhux vera jkollom il-poplu
maghhom. Dettaturi u regimi ripressivi u setghat fanatici li jgennu n-nies u
joholqu sistemi ta’ ripressjoni u abbuz li kwazi bilfors jirrizultaw bil-gwerrer
u mwiet. Ghalhekk is-soluzzjonijiet mhux facli. X’taghmel tohloq gwerra, iggib
l-inkwiet u l-imwiet biex tevita l-imwiet.

Zgur pero li d-dinja tghallmet
hafna mit-tragedji tas-Seklu Ghoxrin. Zgur li l-Ewropej li baqghu jkaxxkru
bil-gwerrer bhal dawk tal-Balkani wara il-waqgha tal-Jugoslavja u dawk bhal
tac-Cecnja wara l-waqgha tal-Unjoni Sovjetika, m’ghandhom l-ebda entuzjazmu
ghall-gwerrer. L-Ewropa nfniet bil-gwerrer tas-seklu ghoxrin.

Id-dinja
kollha nfniet. Izda ahna rridu forsi nharsu aktar qribna u madwarna, ghalkemm
id-dinja hi verament wahda. L-Ewropej halfu wara t-Tragedja tal-gwerra mondjali
ta’ sittin sena ilu li ma jridux aktar gwerrer. Ghalhekk sar dak l-isforz kollu
biex in-nazzjonijiet ewropej jinghaqdu u jitghallmu jghixu flimkien bhala
familja bla fruntieri. Ghalhekk iddecidew li kundizzjoni importanti tas-Shubija
b’mod jew iehor fl-Ewropa li qed tinghaqad hu t-twemmin fid-demokrazija u
fil-liberta tal-popli li jiddeciedu huma. Ghalhekk regimi militari u movimenti
estremisti qed isibuha bi tqila biex ikunu accettati.

Ahna f’pajjizna
dan nifhmuh. Ahna nghozzu d-demokrazija taghna u l-gwerrer ibezzghuna. Ma rridux
gwerrer u l-Maltin huma ta’ fehma wahda dwar dan. Li ghadna ma ftehmniex fuqu hu
kif l-ahjar li nizguraw li pajjizna jkun imhares mit-theddid u l-abbuz li
haddiehor ikbar minna jista’ jaghmlilna, u kif fl-istess waqt inkunu ahna li bla
ebda xkiel niddeciedu.

J’alla niftehmu u s-soluzzjoni nsibuha. Ghax lil
hinn minn kull gid u progress ekonomiku, is-serhan tal-mohh u li nghixu fil-paci
u s-sigurta’, huwa akbar. Ghal Malti s-sliem hu l-akbar
valur.