The trick is… how to achieve it
I admit it. The title is not original. I stole it from an article by Edward Scicluna. The article appeared in a glitzy insert that the Labour Party distributed with last Sunday’s edition of The Sunday Times.
The man touted to be a possible future Minister of Economic Affairs argues that for our country’s standard of living to be on a par with that of other European States, our economy needs to grow.
According to Scicluna: “to catch up we need to achieve a faster rate of economic growth than our wealthy neighbours. Merely to have the same economic growth rate as them would imply that the gap between our countries would actually widen.”
Further on he states that “the trick is to know how to achieve it”.
I assume he wrote this before the European Commission published its report last week on the economic health of European countries.
Yes, that report, which said our economy will grow by 1.5 per cent at the same time when the majority of countries in the eurozone are going to see their economies shrink. The same report that said the German economy is predicted to grow by only 0.5 per cent.
That’s right, our economy is going to grow three times faster than the German economy. We are already doing what Scicluna hopes to achieve. By Scicluna’s own admission, this Government is already delivering that which Labour is promising to deliver.
Scicluna and the Labour Party are arguing that we need a change. They are saying that we need a new road map: a road map that will take us to where we are today.
If you want to know where we are today, I suggest that you get a copy of this report published by the European Commission.
It is a real eye-opener. It talks about our “resilient performance of the tourism sector and sustained growth in financial services”.
It says “job creation is projected to remain robust throughout the forecast period… significantly outperforming the euro area average”. Equally important is that “the unemployment rate is projected to remain among the lowest in the euro area”.
The report says the real retail price index is actually decreasing and that the Government deficit continues to improve. Economically we are top of the class. The economic performance of our neighbours makes sad reading: -4.4, -1.4, -3.5, -1.0, 0.1.
We know what needs to be done and we have been doing it better than the best for the past five years.
The Nationalist Party has a proven track record in delivering economic growth. Successive Nationalist governments introduced economic and financial policies that promoted it.
We reduced taxation, sustained those industries that were delivering real growth, took the painful decision to do away with non-sustainable industries, privatised those activities we felt where best handled by the private sector, diversified our economy by attracting new industries, integrated our economy into the European Union, invested European Union funds to great effect and liberalised the economy by removing unnecessary permitting and border controls.
The bold measures we took over the years ensured that our economy continued to perform even during one of the worst international economic recessions.
This was no conjurer’s trick. It was a result of having a Government that provided the vision, the foresight and the courage to take the right, even if painful decisions.
Labour, of course, was against most of these economic policies.
They urged us not to liberalise, not to join the EU, not to join the euro, not to close unsustainable industries and so on and so forth.
Last week, the Leader of the Opposition said that privatising the dockyard and, in so doing, saving the public coffers over 70 million a year, was a mistake.
They say we are negative when we point out their lack of foresight.
They say that we should be looking at the future. We always do. Our vision is firmly on the years ahead.
Our economic performance shows we stayed ahead of the game. We moved ahead when other countries floundered. We did this as we read the signs of the times and made the right, not easy, decisions.
Our electoral programme includes concrete measures on how we intend to help the economy grow over the next five years. Labour’s vision is to be where we are today.
Our vision is to continue to grow, to continue to defy economic gravity and deliver more growth, more jobs.
Our ambitious electoral programme is summed up in three words: jobs, health and education.
If we continue to get it right on these basics then we can continue to deliver, as we are doing, on all other fronts including the environment, our heritage and culture.
In this way, our standard of living will not only be on a par with that of other European states, but actually better. If, however, our country gets it wrong on the economic front we will fail on jobs, health, education and all other fronts and join the long list of bankrupt countries.
Ultimately, it is about making the right decisions. There will be no magic wand, no crystal ball, no quick turn of the hand to help us through the next five years, just as there were no tricks to help in the past five years.
We succeeded thanks to a collective effort in which we all played a part, not least the Nationalist government that acted in the country’s interest. Whether we can continue to do so depends on you making the right choice.
Mario de Marco is Minister for Tourism, Culture and the Environment.