Farsons Group CEO Norman Aquilina on Saturday shed light on how Malta needs greater input from people of influence and business leaders in order to think more about the country’s long-term future.
His comments came after The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry on Thursday expressed concerns about the current state of play in Malta and the way in which a number of challenges are being handled. Aside from the power cuts that have dominated the country over the past week, it also explained that the economy and the public’s quality of life are both suffering due to poor planning and the slow pace in which action is being taken.
Mr Aquilina noted that The Malta Chamber’s call to action is a clear sign of Malta’s “sombre situation” which requires “some serious reflection from each and every one of us”.
“Traditionally, and expectedly, we have considered Parliament as the gatekeeper of our country’s wellbeing and relied upon this supreme legislative authority to shape our country’s long-term vision. But regardless of party politics, we are growingly not getting that sense of direction,” he said, before questioning where that direction needs to come from.
“Our future is too important to be solely left to politicians,” he explained. While he added that they have a “leading role to play”, Malta needs to “move away from uncompromising black or white rote thinking, which is neither plausible, practical nor effective in leading us forward”.
Mr Aquilina said that beyond the political spectrum, Malta “desperately” also needs a “broader leadership gathering that is ready to work on meaningful change”. At the heart of such a change needs to be getting more people of influence involved in “thinking objectively about how to tackle key challenges and deal with national issues”.
“Everybody who has a position of influence or leads an organisation should be thinking very carefully not just about how to create success and sustainability in their own areas of responsibility, but also how they can collaborate with others to make sure we have a society and economy that is better for everybody,” he added.
He called for people to develop more “actionable insights” and to “better shape the needed vision and direction” of the country by changing certain practices, building partnerships, and also affecting policy which is “well put into practice”. “We need to focus on a rethink and realignment of priorities, building and working towards a truly national strategic agenda,” he continued.
Mr Aquilina acknowledged that his thinking might sound “utopian” in nature, yet it is the “right way to go” and a way of getting Malta “out of the rut of party politics, which is overly conditioned by short-term electoral cycles and blurring our badly needed longer term objectives”.
Following his post, a number of other business leaders joined Mr Aquilina in his frustration at the way Malta is being led.
“We need thinktanks who can make proposals and can disengage themselves from the likings of a party or others and propose a way forward without fear,” Enser Ltd Managing Director Anton Cutajar said.
“Certain issues, which are unpopular, were not even tackled by the last administrations, who had an overwhelming majority, for fear of losing votes. Some issues are obvious, like the size, discipline, and hours of work for many Government departments, not referring to teachers, nurses or engineers. I am referring to many workers who enter Government service to get a cushy, well-paid job, trouble free, with half-days in summer and no control on their output,” he added.
Martin Debattista, Senior Lecturer in ICT, Digital Media and Digital Heritage at Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS), noted that “tribal politics” where the ultimate goal is to “win the next election to say in power and thus in a cosy relationship with business” only results in Malta’s current situation.
“Unless we have real cross-party consensus on issues like the environment, population growth, pension reform, party financing, electoral system, quality of life, and other areas, we will keep having a short-sighted strategic direction,” he said.
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