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Headlines make the story

Very often one gets the gist of a news item by its headline. I have recently come across three headlines that encapsulate the specific moment we are living in Malta today and may indicate our direction for the future.

The first headline was that of last Wednesday’s edition of the UK Financial Times. The paper was published before the results of the US presidential election were known.

The headline of the Financial Times read: Wanted: A President To Put Can-Do Spirit Back In The US. The writer of the article claimed that the future US President’s greatest challenge was “to rekindle a spirit of can-do optimism in a nation broken down by the global economic crisis”.

I believe we can apply this statement to Malta.

The Maltese economy does not require to be given back a can-do approach. It already has it and our results show it.

However, this approach needs to be strengthened as our challenges are bound to become greater and may at times even appear insurmountable.

We do not need to be told how difficult the situation is, nor do we need to be told how good or bad we have been in the past. We need a government that is capable of understanding the present moment and of delivering a credible and concrete economic strategy for the future that will give confidence to the private sector to continue investing and will contribute to creating further employment.

This brings me to the second headline, which appeared in last week’s Malta Business Weekly. The heading read: While Europe’s Unemployed Increase, Malta’s Decrease.

The article referred to the level of unemployment in the 27 European Union member states as at the end of September.

Malta, together with six other countries, experienced a decline in its unemployment rate. Malta has the fifth lowest unemployment rate in the EU, following virtuous countries such as Austria, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands, while being well ahead of countries like Ireland and Cyprus.

This good performance of the Maltese labour market is evidently a proof of a can-do approach, in spite of the stiff challenges posed by the very difficult international economic scenario. It brings me to the third headline, part of the third quarter report on the state of the economies of the 27 member states published by the European Commission.

It read: Resilient Labour Market Underpins Gradual Demand Recovery. The report spoke of the growth of the Maltese economy in the third quarter which was driven entirely by exports and the tourism sector. It made reference to the fact that the budget deficit is expected to narrow down to 2.6 per cent of the gross domestic product, while the primary surplus is expected to increase. As a result of this consistent path towards a smaller deficit, the Commission has recommended a lifting of the Excessive Deficit Procedure for Malta.

The message we get from these headlines is that the present state of our economy is very positive – lower unemployment, lower deficit and economic growth. The future is something we have to work for and it is only a can-do attitude, whereby nothing is allowed to chance, that will help us to steer the Maltese economy through these very rough times. This can-do attitude can give us the confidence we need to succeed in these times of uncertainty.

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