26 September 2023

MALTA: Business leader wants smaller bureaucracy

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One of Malta’s senior business leaders has called on the Government to “bite the political bullet” and slash numbers in the Public Service.

President of the Chamber of Commerce, Marisa Xuereb said this must be done if the Government is to be in a position to continue to offer essential services, subsidies and carry out major projects in the future.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government toted the war chest it had available to offer subsidies and introduce measures, such as the wage supplement, to mitigate the effects of the pandemic,” Ms Xuereb (pictured) said.

“Now we are facing an energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine, and the Government is already starting to feel the pinch, having to announce Budget cuts in different sectors and to suspend projects.”

Minister for Finance, Clyde Caruana said the aim was to keep the deficit at between 5.5 per cent and 5.8 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.

He confirmed that subsidies on energy prices would stay in place, but insisted the deficit of the country had to be kept under control.

Ms Xuereb said that if the public sector was downsized, it would free up funds to help the Government reach its targets.

“The vast majority of companies in the public sector are struggling to find staff to fill vacancies, because people are still lured to work in the public sector by the job security offered and the understanding that the output required would not be as high as in the private sector,” she said.

“Seeing examples such as Air Malta workers offered alternative jobs in the public sector or very favourable early-retirement conditions, makes it simpler for people to decide to join the public sector, even if at lower pay than they would earn in the private sector.”

Ms Xuereb said terms like upskilling and re-skilling had become mere clichés, because whereas workers in some Departments or entities were over-burdened, the vast majority did superfluous work and could be better utilised.

“If the Government were to initiate a rationalisation process to realign its workforce as really needed, it would cut its payroll considerably while freeing up more workers for the private sector,” she said.

Valetta, 11 September, 2022

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