mardi, juin 13, 2006
The words "liberal" and "liberalise" have never been fully received within the Maltese mentality. The Nationalist government overused the terms in a mantric exercise that hoped that overrepetition would turn liberalisation into a good of itself and not a tool to be used in order to achieve the common good. This is one of the main reasons why the Nationalist bluff on liberalisation has never worked. They bandy it around like some Mastro Lindo that will clean all worries. They fail to recognise that it is only the first step towards a better society. They fail to invest the necessary resources into the institutions that would essentially safeguard the liberalised markets from becoming the usual kettle of unruly oligopolists - the inevitable result in our island economy.
Labour. Now Labour have until now been forced to critise liberalisation. Normally it starts with criticism of that monster called "privatisation". It is a sufficiently complicated issue for the general public not to really grasp and for Labour to criticise "effectively" (as in with the support of its core) without going into too much detail. For a party that is led by a Harvard groomed economist the Labour stance on all things "free market" stinks. The main stinker is the fact that even though labour often criticises the manner of liberalisation in a truthful manner, it never proposes liberalisation and privatisation as a solution.
The Unions? Just do not go there. Liberalisation is the Devil riding on the back of a Harley Davidson. The private sector? Oh. It pays the private sector. Phase one does. Liberalise and give me a segment of the market. Phase two? I will make you regret Mintoff's state system by abusing the liberalised market as much as possible while the government is busy snoring and distributing fake cd's during it's parties.
Which brings me to the bus owners. In Europe, across the sea and outside the island box, the EU has just passed a directive that forces the liberalisation of public transport. In short monopolies will not be allowed. The directive also bans government subsidies. We should all be out in the street partying to the CD of Xtruppaw (thanks Owen for the CD and for the t-shirt!).
But are we? Of course not. Duh! here is what Victor Spiteri of the Public Transport Association had to say (source The Times of Malta online)
"This is being used as an excuse to pave the way for liberalisation. The minister is not aware of the trouble ahead, if this comes about," Mr Spiteri warned, while pointing out that the PTA is also holding discussions with its legal representatives in Brussels.
It's trendy to threaten these days. Ah. The directive is not really a directive. It is a trojan horse. It is an EXCUSE to PAVE THE WAY FOR LIBERALISATION. Pratchett would say that we are being dragged kicking and screaming into the century of the fruitbat. Which would be another way of saying that backward Malta is finally being shown the signs of the times.
The directive forcing liberalisation on inefficient public transport systems is why I voted yes for Europe. The pudgy men at PTA dragging their feet and chewing on Maltese taxpayer's subsidies are why I stopped voting for appeasing parties like MLPN. The government is already preparing an emergency meeting ostensibly to minimise the damage for PTA. Yeah Mugliett that's the spirit. If you think I'm joking here is Mugliett's comment:
"When contacted, Mr Mugliett said the government has opposed the rushed liberalisation of public transport ever since the European Commission forwarded its proposal last August."
All we need is a press release by the Nationalist Party saying that it stands behind the government on its liberalisation policies. That would really put the cherry on the cake.
And I managed to talk about liberalisation without once mentioning Ryanair or Gozo Channel. Huh must be getting weak here.