Last Updated on Thursday, 25 August, 2022 at 10:58 am by Andre Camilleri
In today’s economic circumstances, just like every business is trying to do all it can to contain its costs, the government must do the same, Chamber of Commerce President Marisa Xuereb told The Malta Business Weekly in an interview.
Xuereb was asked for the Chamber’s views on a proposal made by the Malta Employers Association for the government to ditch what were described as “airy fairy” projects such as the Gozo Tunnel and the metro and dedicate its finances to infrastructural improvements instead.
“What is clear to us as a Chamber is that when it comes to government spending, in the current economic circumstances, just like every business is trying to do all it can to contain its costs, government needs to do the same,” Xuereb said.
She said that the Chamber expects the government to undertake “a major cost cutting exercise” not just on these kind of projects where there “seems to be no national consensus”, but also on day to day costs such as on superfluous employment, which she described as “jobs that don’t exist”, and on public procurement.
“We need to be a lot more judicious in the way we spend money, both as private individuals and companies, but also as government,” she said.
Xuereb said that we are living in a time when we cannot afford to waste any resources, be them financial, human, or environmental because any kind of waste will ultimately result in a more expensive country.
Turning to the projects mentioned by the MEA specifically, the Gozo Tunnel and the Metro, Xuereb expressed scepticism on both.
“The Chamber’s position on the tunnel is that we don’t want Gozo to become another Malta,” she said.
“We’ve made some mistakes when it comes to Malta and they are there for all to see, and we can see those mistakes happening again in Gozo triggered by the expectation of the tunnel happening one day,” she added.
“So even before it happens, the tunnel has already had a major negative impact on the environment in Gozo,” she said.
Turning to the proposed metro, she said that it is unrealistic to expect people to go from using their private car “to go round the corner to the grocer” to walking to the metro.
“By the time the mentality changes that much, even the technology we use would have changed to the point that we will be using driverless cars and more futuristic kinds of mobility options that maybe don’t exist yet,” she said.
The Chamber has made its own proposal intended on starting a modality shift away from private cars, with its idea being to introduce parking meters in urban centres and for the money paid by a person in these meters is transferred into an e-wallet which can be used as credit for shared mobility transport such as taxis or car pooling systems.