Maltese Editors’ Viewpoints

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The economic initiatives launched by Government attract diverse reactions although the general consensus seems to veer in the direction that more will eventually need to be done to avoid further economic disruption.

The Times of Malta welcomes the improved economic support measures announced by Government last Tuesday which it describes as “shock and awe”; while these will see debt raising to 50% of GDP, the Editors considers such expenditure as sustainable and necessary during this crisis. However, while welcoming the fact that constituted bodies accepted that employers had to do their own part in covering employees’ salaries, it called on businesses to take this crisis as an opportunity to dust off their business plans with a view to improving their resilience. The Editor argues that there is nothing as useful as a crisis to help business leaders examine how they can operate more efficiently by adding value for their customers while ratcheting up investment in technology and in their employees.

The Independent is not as positive in its reaction to the support measures, highlighting that only one day is being covered for the lesser-affected sectors – which could still include shops which have been forced to close down to enforce social distancing. The editorial also highlights the plight of the media industry which needs to be supported to ensure that a healthy democracy is strengthened in our country.

Business Today argues that this epidemic will be a challenge for Malta and the EU not just in terms of business, the impact on our health, our social lives, with isolation and fear of illness. It commends proposals by former Finance Minister Tonio Fenech who suggested that the Maltese government should implement an “economic time-out” during the economic shutdown that has been forced by the coronavirus pandemic. As shops closed down and with a looming lockdown only around the corner, Fenech said the Maltese economy should be preserved now so that it can be switched on again when the lockdown is over. The Editor argues that government should heed this advice and take action.

L-Orizzont welcomes the historical agreement reached at MCESD level to support businesses in going through this delicate phase. This agreement will help safeguard employment. The Editor welcomes Government’s commitment to increase the level of support as soon as the need arises.

In-Nazzjon argues that Government was eleven days late with these initiatives, with some workers having already lost their jobs. It expresses its doubts as to why government has not yet reduced electricity tariffs despite oil prices being at historical lows. It also notes that the country is paying the price for corruption related to the privatised hospitals.

In its Editorial, focuses on the role of leaders. Managing the crisis is a daunting task, however it is while the edifice is collapsing that true leaders will rise. This is a make-or-break moment for any leader if there ever was one and success will not simply depend on return to full operability. Leadership must give a new sense of purpose even in the absence of a defined objective.

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