Election time is never the best time to discuss business. In the last bout of election fever just over a year ago GonziPN outdid AD in its proposal to lower the rate of income tax. The last minute GonziPN foray was a see-through fiscal obscenity. Perhaps because it was so unrealistic at the outset, nobody appears to have asked what happened to that promise among all the rest.
Since then, the Lehman Bros debacle took the bottom out of the financial world and overwhelmed such niceties as the income tax rate in Malta but there had been no serious intention to act on that promise anyway. Nobody mentioned it from March to September when the global financial crisis changed the world forever.
This time around it is AN that is calling for a tax rate reduction in Malta to 5 per cent while contesting an EP election. Granted that the reduction would be arrived at in stages and over a number of years, it remains unclear how this could be achieved through the election of an AN MEP to the Brussels parliament where the party promises not to join any parliamentary group.
From the “Flimkien kollox possibbli” (together anything is possible”) GonziPN slogan in 2008, the PN has evolved into “Flimkien inġibu xogħol għalik” (together we create more jobs for you). Exactly how this will be performed through the election of MEP is not quite clear but it is legitimate to surmise that it all works out through the use of EU funds, the bagging of EU programme funding of public and private projects and possibly the establishment of some EU agency in Malta. Let’s face it, describing all the possible trickle-down and seeping-through in a slogan is definitely impossible, even if we all hold hands while we chant it. Still, how does it help if we elect three and not two PN MEPs? By their own account the two PN MEPs we have had so far have performed so brilliantly in comparison to their Labour colleagues that it really wouldn’t make a difference.
The message to the business sector is that the PN is in the business of creating employment and will therefore sustain enterprise which makes that possible. The slogan is intended to hit two birds with one stone.
So does Labour. Its elaborate programme dedicates a considerable proportion of itself to employment and related issues and one paragraph specifically to SMEs and business. The jaundiced eye of the average businessman will view all this as a message identical to the PN’s and of equal value.
What has changed since the 2008 campaign is the emphasis on the environment with both PN and PL fielding candidates with significant environmental kudos to their credit even if they appear to be infants on a political level.
The Greens, taking their cue from Barack Obama, have promised to create millions of jobs over the next five years in the ecology and environment sector across the EU. AD want their share for Malta and have made a stake for 500 jobs in this sector in Malta. There seems to be something in it since the only international corporations that seem to be making any headway in this time of economic turmoil seem to be those bringing innovation to the alternative energy sector. Certainly the older and more sedate political parties are taking it seriously since they are falling over one another to be heard saying what the Greens have been saying for years.
Thankfully elections come and go. This one is about to go and we are unlikely to have another one for the next four years. Most of us will be glad to have the distraction laid aside.