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Malta, our country - Frank Farrugia

Like in any other sovereign state, shortcomings arise in Malta too, and just as in any other country, it is the responsibility of our various leaders to come to terms with them and tackle them collectively, effectively and directly to safeguard the economic and social well-being of our nation.

It doesn’t take much insight to realise what the issues afflicting our country are at the moment. A glance at a recent survey by Misco International Ltd for The Sunday Times of Malta shows that besides traffic, a quarter of the Maltese are preoccupied by issues concerning law and order. Nevertheless, this does not seem to have led to general distrust in the institutions.

Our chamber also expressed itself on matters concerning the rule of law ahead of the last general election in a position paper presented to the main political parties and the media. The first of 12 chapters contained in our document was, in fact, entitled ‘Reputation and Good Governance’.

Matters have since escalated, and the country cannot afford to freeze in the proverbial headlights. Our nation must look ahead. The recent horrendous event has shocked us all, but must now serve to trigger the necessary changes which may come about through constitutional ref-orms that enjoy broad national consensus.

To this end, our political leaders are expected to lead by example and act in unison, agree on lasting solutions and, commit their support towards sustainable objectives whereby national authorities are allowed to operate independently.

As far as the chamber is concerned, its members want to operate in an environment where checks and balances function properly, where the rule of law reigns supreme and everyone operates on a level playing field. Addressing these matters, though hard and possibly politically challenging, are certainly within our country’s own competences.

The well-being of our nation ought to serve as enough motivation for our leaders to step up to this courageous challenge. No further external forces should be necessary. The solutions required must support and not hinder our rapid economic progress and Malta’s reputation as an island that is open for business.

We must all be responsible for our statements and actions, which have a serious influence on our economic progress

Clearly, we must distinguish between the accusations our country is enduring in relation to freedom of speech and those that concern our open and transparent fiscal regulatory framework, which is, after all, most certainly EU-compliant.

Bearing in mind that we remain under a bright international spotlight, we must all treat Malta as our country and not seek to gain sectorial or political mileage to the detriment of our reputation as a worthy business destination.

Anything short of this will, in turn, come at a cost to the well-being of us all – employers, workers, professionals, pensioners and students. Until such time that Malta’s curative process commences and the wounds start to heal, we should impose no self-inflicted hardship on our bona fide economic operators.

In the light of the fact that in the past days, the EU, through the PANA committee report, has once again reaffirmed that Malta has transposed EU rules and respects OECD standards in terms of transparency, fighting against tax fraud and money laundering, we must all be responsible for our statements and actions, which have a serious influence on our economic progress.

No innocent party and no member of the upstanding business community must be caught in friendly fire or feel unjustly treated. Moreover, and within the context of recent revelations, individuals who made justifiable use of our transparent, EU-certified structures and invested legitimate funds in or from Malta do not deserve unfair or ill-judged treatment.

Ultimately, their actions also contributed to the generation of jobs and the common good in our country.

In the prevailing circumstances, our economic climate is desperately calling for less uncertainty. Insecurity will, no doubt, impact business confidence negatively, and the country’s reputation in its various sectors. Malta must preserve its international reputation as much as it must safeguard good governance and stability.

It is up to the courage and goodwill of our leaders to agree and see through the changes Malta requires to ensure the economic and social well-being of our people.

Frank Farrugia is president of the MaltaChamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

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