Source: The Malta Independent
by George M. Mangion
Article published on 1st January 2012
While economies shrink and austerity measures are a common feature in Europe¸ Malta can boast of some cheer with the news that¸ in 2011¸ our GDP at constant prices rose by 2.2 per cent. This compares with a contraction of five per cent suffered by the Greek economy and an increase of only 0.5 per cent in the UK. Certainly the good news that the cost of Italy’s borrowing had fallen by half this month is a harbinger of good tidings for the euro club and improves its chances of survival.
Still¸ 2012 will surely see action in Europe intended at killing the economic contagion that can lead to more suffering for the unemployed and the marginalised working classes. Alas¸ the Occupy movement will still be protesting in 2012 against our financial destiny being gripped so securely by the hands of wily rating agencies. Remember how¸ in the USA prior to the sub-prime crisis¸ rating agencies ruled like warlords who blithely gave triple-A ratings to the doomed financial instruments that brought the world to the brink? Think of the Lehman Bros debacle and just remember how Greece’s junk rating has led to untold misery for its bloated civil service¸ which sheltered so many Athenians with jobs out of synch with the reality of Athens’ actual needs¸ culminating in massive annual deficits.
All this largesse¸ plus tax evasion and unbridled corruption¸ has led to the crushing austerity measures imposed on Greece as a precondition of their approval of sovereign debt redemption by the German taxpayers. By comparison¸ Malta was left unscathed¸ begging the question: what is the secret of Malta’s administration that escaped the onslaught of austerity measures and on paper prides itself on having a comparatively vibrant economy? The answer is not easy to identify¸ but one single cause was certainly the clever use of ICT services in promoting business.
A lot has been written about the benefits Malta is reaping from the use of its modern digital technology and the expanded use of the internet in the gaming industry. The fact that the government has been investing heavily to reduce the digital divide by sponsoring ICT courses for the business community and in public schools for students of various age groups has had a positive effect. Promoting Malta in all areas of business – whether tourism¸ manufacturing¸ financial services or¸ to a lesser extent¸ its cottage industries – has helped broaden the demand for its products and services. This has led to the growth pattern mentioned earlier.
Web advertising is generally valued in relation to the value of the business it creates from the new users it attracts to the site. This value has to be closely monitored¸ which brings into question the belief that web advertising works wonders. Naturally¸ an effective website has to be cleverly designed and regularly updated and unless the search engine optimisati