There is no doubt that, since the Second World War, it has been the desire of every parent that his or her children should enjoy a better life than he or she had. Back before the early industrial revolution, in an agrarian society, dire poverty was accepted as a way of life. The poor, or indeed the well-off, did not have high expectations and resigned themselves to their destined life. It was only through machinery that one could be more productive and therefore earn more and start to move away from poverty.
Today, as a member of the European Union, our country not only aspires that the following year will be better than the previous one, it expects its quality of life to be on par with that of other member states. This can only be achieved through a higher level of economic growth than our wealthy neighbours. For example, if our country were to have merely the same economic growth rate as Germany, the gap between our two countries would actually widen and relative poverty on a European scale would increase.
What we need is to increase the rate of economic growth by managing to produce more goods and services than the previous year, thus yielding a higher income. That is all. The trick is to know how to achieve this.
Our country will flourish with more investment. Statistics reveal that the portion of the GDP that is going towards fixed investment (buildings and machinery) is decreasing, which threatens low growth for the future and makes the creation of thousands of jobs a mere dream. This is where the country is failing, with investment down from 30 per cent to 15 per cent. And it is why the Labour Party has been campaigning against the bureaucracy that hinders investment and the corruption that holds back government operations.
One feature particular to Malta is the activity rate, which is one of the lowest among EU member states, presently at 60 per cent of all those of working age. Our goal is to achieve 75 per cent in 10 years, which translates to around 30,000 to 40,000 people employed. The economy will benefit from both the contributions these workers will pay in tax and National Insurance on their income and their expenditure for their households. Above all, they will enjoy a better quality of life for themselves and for their families. Labour’s promise of free childcare is just one initiative to raise labour market participation towards economic growth.
Another plan is to increase efficiency to accelerate economic growth. Not every worker and not every machine has the same capacity or efficiency. Studies show that, in the case of workers, efficiency increases considerably through natural and learned skills. Here again, Malta has problems. The highest rate of early school leavers and the low number of qualified engineers and scientists are two problems we have to tackle. The number of graduates each year is still relatively low. We want to invest in our youth through the European Union’s Youth Guarantee for training, education or work.
Research and improved technology means we can produce more, using less energy and at lower cost. The lack of an energy plan for the country has meant more use of oil with inefficient machines. Labour’s proposal, to use modern technology that uses less energy, is estimated to save €187 million each year. All three sectors – industrial, commercial and domestic – will get a boost. For families it means electricity bills coming down by 25 per cent on average next year. For some the reduction will be even greater.
These are just some of many proposals to help the country’s economy grow and prosper. The measures are aimed at benefiting everyone. Labour has clear ideas about the economy it wants to deliver. I hope you will give us your support on Saturday and enable us to get to work.
– Malta Independent : Sunday, 03 March 2013