George Vital Zammit Net Live

Senior lecturer from the University of Malta’s public policy department, George Vital Zammit, commented on the conflicting remarks made by Government Ministers regarding what is to be done with Malta’s economic model.

“I get the impression that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing,” said Dr Vital Zammit during a televised discussion on Net Live on Friday (last week).

Speaking during Malta Institute of Accountants’ biennial conference, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana remarked that Malta’s current economic model needs to change, or else the country needs its population to grow to 800,000 by 2040.

Contrarily, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri told the Times of Malta that the economic model only needs to be adjusted.

“A few months ago the Finance Minister said that the construction and development sector should not be given the most importance in our country’s economy, because it’s not an important contributor toward GDP. We know those comments irritated some people, including the Prime Minister,” added Dr Vital Zammit.

Due to the conflicting views expressed by Government Ministers, it is unclear whether statements made by Minister Caruana are his own or of the Government.

He alluded to comments made by various Government spokespersons over the years who said that Malta could be the Singapore, Dubai or Hong Kong of the Mediterranean.

“These countries, Singapore and Hong Kong in particular, are small, smaller than us in territory, but they have infrastructure that was thought out, a public transport system that was thought out and buildings that were thought out for these challenges,” explained Dr Vital Zammit.

He highlighted that a number of experts have described Malta as being an economy on steroids.

“We have growth that is artificial.”

Backing up his comment, he said, “permission was given to develop another big supermarket in Marsa which is not needed, why? Because the public’s needs are well met.”

“That brings with it construction, traffic inconvenience, and, since we don’t have enough labour, it has to be imported.”

The development in question is the upcoming Eurospin Supermarket, which was approved by the Planning Authority in May.

“That is artificial growth because it is not needed.”

“We’re not building a new school, but a new supermarket.”

Dr Vital Zammit remarked that the Government has become dependant on this type of growth, which consistently needs more people.

“The Government really needs a reality check as to what kind of policy it wants.”

“I think the Government, which is in the driving seat, has the possibility to change things. It’s pointless to grumble. The Prime Minister needs to give a clear indication of where he’s taking the country.”

Featured Image: George Vital Zammit via Net Live

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