Many probably remained shocked by the speech of the Minister of Finance at the recent biennial conference of the Malta Institute of Accountants. He stated that Malta’s population will have to balloon to 800,000 over the next 17 years if the country is to keep its economy growing at the current rate unless a new economic model is devised. The title of the MIA Conference was “Rethink and Reform”. However, in Minister Caruana’s own words, “We do not just need to rethink and reform, we need to reinvent ourselves”.
The figure of 800,000 emerged from an analysis as to the size of the population which is required for the Maltese economy to continue growing at the rate of 4.2 per cent per annum. That figure of 800,000 presupposes that we continue operating with the current economic model.
A population of 800,000, only half of whom would be Maltese, is simply a non-starter. Our country cannot sustain – or afford – it. it Our quality of life would simply go down the drain. It will cause social unrest and we will lose our identity.
This is why we must change our economic model and I agree with the statement of the Minister of Finance that we need to reinvent ourselves.
Irreversible damage is being done to our environment
The myth that the Maltese economy depends on the construction sector has now been debunked. In spite of this there are still those who do not want to accept it. This model has enriched the few property speculators at the expense of young Maltese couples and Maltese families. The non-Maltese workers have not added one iota to our skills base and some businesses rely on them simply as a means of cheap labour.
As such, while our economic objective has been for six successive decades, to move up the value chain, we are being forced by the few to go down the value chain. This is happening while irreversible damage is being done to our environment, our infrastructure and our social fabric.
The latest misco survey on public concerns has shown a very high level of concern among the general public about construction, the environment and cost of living.
That concern is greater among persons aged under 35 years. The cost of living issue may be outside our sphere of influence since we import most of what we consume. However, the issues of the environment and construction are well within our control.
Eurobarometer data published recently showed that a majority of respondents believe that in general things in Malta are moving in the wrong direction. This is again an alarm bell. Moreover, the EB data also shows there are more people who are expecting matters to get worse than those who are expecting matters to get better.
The time for reform is well past unfortunately. Reinvent ourselves we must.