Finance Minister Prof. Edward Scicluna said that the encouraging economic turnaround being experienced by Malta is due to the new Government’s clear road-map for business, its energetic and decisive approach to governance, and the Government’s negotiations with the European Commission that allowed Malta to avoid an austerity programme related to the Excessive Deficit Procedure.
Prof. Scicluna was speaking during his keynote address at ‘The Economist: Business Roundtable with the Government of Malta’ Conference, on Friday 7th March 2014. He was opening a discussion panel entitled ‘The Financial Services Sector: Europe on the Mend?’
Prof. Scicluna attributed Malta’s positive economic turnaround to three main factors.
“First and foremast is this government’s clear road-map for business, that we will do whatever is possible to remove any obstacles in the way of doing business, whether these are bureaucratic procedures or worse corruption,” said Prof. Scicluna.
“Secondly I the surge in economic activity came about because Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s Government takes decisions. We found a backlog of thousands of such pending decisions. The government just unblocked the process. Decisions are taken on a daily basis, come workday or weekend. Parliament’s agenda is full with legislation which is bringing about much-needed change. The wheel is turning with less screeching than before,” Prof. Scicluna added.
“The third reason, perhaps less known than the previous two, is that we were spared the poison chalice by the Commission way back in May of last year,” Prof. Scicluna explained. “We knew then that the so called two-pack legislation would condemn us to some form of austerity programme from Brussels.”
“I remember clearly telling Commission Olli Rhen. ‘If you want to throw the book at us, you can do so. But do you really want to turn one other Eurozone country from a ‘breadbasket case’ into a ‘basket case’? Another problem country on your desk?’ Prof. Scicluna said.
Prof. Scicluna said that he recalled that Commissioner Rhen was persuaded by the Maltese Government to not impose austerity programmes, in return of being kept informed of the Government’s spending review, and of the series of reforms in the energy field, in the labour market and in the education and training sectors.
The discussion panel also featured the participation of Jim O’Neill, Visiting Research Fellow, Bruegel, & Former Chairman, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Prof. Joe Bannister, Chairman, Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), Kenneth Farrugia, Chairman, FinanceMalta, and Dr John C. Grech, Chairman, FIMBank.
– Saturday, 8th March, 2014