It’s the silly season stupid?

Source: Mr George Mangion¸ PKF Malta

As published on Wednesday 21st August 2013 on the Malta Today


Yes – we have survived last week’s heat wave and the mid – August summer shut downs¸ when many of us who chose not to travel abroad or take a Med cruise ended up in hired accommodation¸ languishing the entire week in converted farmhouses with a communal pool in Gozo. In previous years¸ under the GonziPN administration¸ we rejoiced¸ reading in the media about the generosity of the rich and well connected¸ who annually invited busy party officials on board luxury boats for a well deserved freebie. On the other side of the pendulum swing¸ we meet executives in the hospitality industry who brace themselves for a record busy season and forget the much-coveted Santa Marija national holiday – instead they try working reduced hours during the hot summer afternoons. It is true that our semi-tropical weather (with occasional 80% humidity and mercury hitting 40 degrees in the shade) is not ideal for working long hours¸ yet it is a paradox that during the summer months¸ economic activity seems to accelerate. So can we admire the hardworking executives who keep the grinding wheel turning when others who are not so petulant drive to the beach to cool down and relax. Who are these workaholics?  In Britain¸ research found that over 80% of accountants and lawyers take their mobiles and tablets on holiday¸ with 65% of them are willing to field calls from the office. On the contrary litigation lawyers in Malta tend to wind down completely in August as the Courts shut down except on emergency hearings. As for some of us plebeians (mostly self-employed) we cannot turn off our thoughts on work issues even while on holiday … welcome on-board  the army of stressed-out business owners who rarely have enough time for leisure and enjoy family activities. The week is too short¸ they exclaim. Let us now go through the case for office moaners and blue collar workaholics who are always complaining with subordinates that the task is taking too long¸ things are urgent and are constantly turning themselves into never-ending rage-aholics. There is a preponderance of these so-called over-worked bosses¸ who are more prevalent during a recession that has gripped small businesses¸ which in turn makes it a veritable nightmare to stretch their cash flow to meet factory expenses¸ taxes and payroll costs.  Especially now that the domestic market is feeling the pinch of the Eurozone troubles¸ more hard work is needed to generate even lower profits. Can we safely label all managers and owners of small businesses ‘overstressed’? The answer is definitely ‘yes’… Small business owners are working themselves into the ground. For example¸ in Britain according to new research¸ a third of them will go without holidays this summer because of the pressures of work and the slump in the sterling value. Locally¸ surveys show that SMEs bosses work excessive hours – hampered by red tape in a highly competitive market. Critics will say this statement appears to contradict the government’s philosophy of Think Small First as part of its goal reflected two years back with the promulgation of the Small Business Act. This was a template to modernise Malta‘s SMEs. But many feel it was only lip service¸ and in fact SMEs are not allowed to join larger