While local industry players’ concern augments in the face of an economic crisis spread across the euro area, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech insists that “there is no doom and gloom - just a little bit of pressure”.
In an exclusive interview featured on pages 8 and 9 of this edition, Fenech said: “There is no crisis – but a challenge in manufacturing and tourism.”
Downplaying the effects of the international economic situation on Malta, Fenech said there was already a tall order on his ministry’s agenda, “and of course this crisis added a pinch to it.”
The Finance Ministry is now looking at 1,200 being put on a four-day week roster, 450 people being laid off at STMicroelectronics and an over all crash in export figures. Asked how it is possible that he is not worried in the face of such facts, Fenech answered: “I appreciate the fact that some people are anxious. I fully understand this, because these people are passing through tough times at first hand. But one must also appreciate that although government can support the industry, it cannot stop it from facing such problems.”
Asked for his reactions to the criticism of appearing silent to a situation that is worrying hundreds of families and most industry players based in Malta, Fenech said: “My role is not to play the prima donna. We are working hard, although we are not very public about it. You just need to look at situations abroad to see what the repercussions of alarming the public could be. Look at Obama – as soon as he said that the situation is likely to take a worse shape – the markets responded with an immediate negative trend. We need to emerge, not promote fear. I don’t want to be a cowboy. My intention is to remain grounded.”