Nistennew li wara l-aħħar puntata tal-kriżi Griega fiż-żona tal-ewro, se jiżdied id-diskors biex jinbnew strutturi ġodda li jorbtu lill-pajjiżi membri eqreb ta’ xulxin fil-mod kif imexxu l-ekonomiji tagħhom. Taħt l-għajta ta’ aktar konverġenza fit-tmexxija ekonomika per eżempju se jqumu sejħiet biex il-politika ta’ tassazzjoni fost il-membri ssir tixxiebah.

Malta għandha għax toqgħod b’seba’ għajnejn dwar hekk. Fl-istadju attwali, proposti simili jmorru kontra l-interess tagħna, kif imorru kontra l-interess tal-ekonomiji ċkejkna. Problema fondamentali taż-żona bħalissa hi li minkejja kull ma jintqal, mhux qed isseħħ fiha konverġenza bejn l-ekonomiji l-qawwija u l-bqija. Anzi, qed jikber id-distakk ekonomiku bejniethom.

Li hemm bżonn hu li l-ewwel isseħħ konverġenza fil-livell ekonomiku tal-pajjiżi involuti. Ma jiswa xejn li toqgħod tikkordina u tpoġġi fl-istess binarju t-tmexxija ekonomika tagħhom. Eżerċizzju bħal dan jissarraf fir-riżultat li min hu dgħajjef se jibqa’ dgħajjef u min hu f’saħħtu jkompli javvanza.

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Investimenti

Għamel sew il-Ministru tal-Finanzi Scicluna li saħaq fuq il-ħtieġa li nindokraw l-investiment dirett li jersaq minn barra. Ħafna għadhom ma fehmux kemm hu diffiċli biex tikkonvinċi jwaddab l-ankra f’Malta lil investitur tajjeb barrani – jiġifieri wieħed li għandu l-finanzi u proġett serju, lest biex iwaqqfu hawn ħalli joħloq negozju u impjiegi.

Sirna nikkonfondu wisq is-servizzi finanzjarji mal-investiment dirett barrani. Fis-servizzi finanzjarji l-fondi li jersqu lejna jiġu pparkjati biss fostna. Jistgħu jitilqu fi kwalunkwe mument; waqt li investiment f’impjant ta’ hu xinhu, ikollu jintrabat għal żmien pjuttost twil mal-qagħda Maltija.

B’kull xejn jista’ jitnaffar, speċjalment jekk iħoss li mhux se jkun ittrattat tajjeb.

Għax Malta demokrazija, hi ħaġa naturali li jitqajmu mistoqsijiet u kontroversji dwar li jkun għaddej. Biss, kulħadd għandu jaġixxi b’mod responsabbli quddiem proposti ġodda ta’ investiment dirett barrani.

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Libris

B’sentiment ta’ nostalġija kbira żort l-istabbiliment ta’ Libris għall-aħħar darba. Għalaq nhar il-Ġimgħa li għaddiet. Kien wieħed mill-aqwa ħwienet tal-kotba ta’ Bruxelles. Niftakru sa mill-bidu tas-snin sebgħin fl-Avenue de la Toison d’Or. L-ewwel f’indirizz imbagħad f’ieħor aktar ’l isfel fl-istess triq, u fl-aħħar snin fil-gallarija Espace Louise terġa’ aktar ‘’l isfel fit-Toison d’Or.

Nistħajjel li bħal ħafna punti ta’ bejgħ tal-kotba mal-Ewropa, Libris kien qed jegħreq finanzjarjament. Dejjem kien ikollu firxa wiesgħa ta’ kotba f’kull kategorija u dak li ma jkollux, iġibulek. Minn għandu kont ordnajt il-kapolavur ta’ Braudel dwar id-dinja Mediterranea fl-aqwa żmien tad-dominanza Spanjola.

Bix-xieraq xtrajt l-aħħar ktieb minn Libris; kien bi skont fil-prezz ta’ erbgħin fil-mija għax fost tal-aħħar fuq l-ixkafef.

English Version – Convergence

In the wake of the latest episode of the Greek crisis saga, expect an increase in exhortations for new structures to be set up in the euro zone, so as to bring member states closer to each other in the management of their national economies. For instance, while the need for greater convergence in economic management is being proclaimed, calls will be made for taxation policies in member states to be designed on similar lines.

Malta needs to be extremely wary of this development. As of now, such proposals go against our national interest and that of the smaller economies. A fundamental problem of the eurozone is that despite the rhetoric, convergence is not happening between the stronger economies and the rest of the pack. To the contrary, economic divergences have been increasing.

Primarily, there needs to emerge a convergence between the economic levels attained by the countries involved. It is meaningless to simply coordinate their economic policies by positioning them all in the same direction. Such an exercise would result in confirming the weak in their weakness while reinforcing the superiority of the strong.

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Investments

Finance minister Scicluna did well to warn about the need to treat foreign direct investment with great care and attention. Many still do not understand how difficult it is to convince a “good” foreign investor to set up shop on the island – meaning an investor who has the funds plus a serious project with business and job potential.

We have come to confuse financial services with foreign direct investment. In financial services, funds are just parked here and they can migrate elsewhere at any moment. Investment in fixed assets, no matter what they are, necessarily gets tied to the Maltese situation for a relatively long period.

It could easily be scared away, especially if investors are unsure about how well they will be treated.

As a democracy, it is natural that in Malta queries and controversies erupt about ongoing developments. Still, all of us need to act responsibly when new proposals for foreign direct invesment come on line.

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Libris

Visiting Libris for the last time, I felt invaded by nostalgia. It closed for business last Friday, its days as one of Brussels’ leading bookstores well and truly over. My memories of the shop go back to the early seventies of the previous century. Initially at one address on the Toison d’Or avenue, later further down the road, and in recent years even further down and going into the Espace Louise gallery.

I guess that like most other points of sale for books all over Europe, Libris had been struggling financially for quite a while. It always carried a wide range of books in most categories and what it did not have in stock, it got for you. I once ordered there Braudel’s masterpiece on the Mediterranean world when Spain was the dominant power.

Ceremonially, I bought my last book at Libris, one of the few that were still waiting on the stacks (carrying a 40 per cent discount).