Untimely, unnecessary expense
There is something that is not exactly clicking. Malta is building a Parliament house that it does not actually need and it is doing so right at a time when, given the economic circumstances and the difficulty to bring down the deficit in the government’s finances, common sense dictates it should not. Now, on top of this, comes the news that the national airline, Air Malta, deep in the red and at pains to carry out a restructuring in a bid to get it out of its economic turbulence, has spent nearly €2 million on a rebranding exercise.
Does it make sense? Should it not have at least waited until better times for rebranding?
Not only has the airline got the timing of the rebranding wrong but, to boot, it is also celebrating the event. No wonder the airline pilots are feeling a bit uneasy about the situation. They are quite right in lashing out at the airline, arguing that, given the situation facing Air Malta, the celebrations are inappropriate.
The amount spent may not be phenomenal but, placed in the context of the situation, the expense is unnecessary and the message is wrong, very wrong.
The airline bosses need to get their priorities right. Airline CEO Peter Davies said at the launching of its new logo that he considered it to be an investment, not a cost. The point may be arguable to the management team but not to others, again considering the circumstances.
The good news is that, according to Mr Davies, the restructuring plan was on the way to being realised, with costs being cut further in the first quarter of the financial year. It would have been cut even further had the airline held back from spending so much on rebranding at this point in time.
Mr Davies also said the airline was on track in achieving its target of cutting losses to €15 million. “We are actually slightly ahead of budget,” he said. Well done, but rebranding and celebrations should have been left to the time when the airline slips out of the red. That would be a milestone, one that would also need to be continuously sustained by judicious decisions.
As to the government and its various authorities, they too need to be careful how to spend the money. No one would surely be against going for important infrastructural works, such as, for example , the laying of the interconnector with Sicily, which would help ensure the continuity of electricity supply, or the extension of the power house, however much controversial the project has turned out to be.
The redevelopment of the Royal Opera House ruins just at the entrance to the capital city had also been long overdue but there was surely no need to build a brand new Parliament house. If the present site has become inadequate for the needs of today, the government should have utilised an existing building elsewhere, as many had suggested, but it ignored the people’s opinion on this and went ahead with its pet project.
True, the project has given many a lot of work in the process but the money could have equally been used on another, more useful project. As the country gears up for the general election, the temptation to spend more than warranted may be strong but this would need to be resisted at all costs for if the deficit rises again it will be the country as a whole that would have to carry the burden, not the politicians.