Surveys – lighting a candle in the dark

Source: Lynsey Schembri¸ PKF Malta

As published on The Malta Today on Wednesday 10th April 2014


The man on the street is becoming more familiar with surveys based on statistical analysis and these are slowly gaining credibility¸ particularly if the information originates from a trusted source. This acquired credibility flies in the face of critics who sarcastically belittle the value of scientific data¸ dismissing it as lies¸ damn lies and statistics.

PKF is currently working on a number of sectors including topics concerning social affairs¸ direct taxation¸ social housing and the business sector in general. Let us start discussing social issues¸ in particular the recent phenomena of irregular migrants. Here one appreciates that civil war¸ political and economic persecution and poor living conditions could be some of the reasons why hundreds of irregular immigrants are visiting our shores.

This is a major issue currently affecting our islands so PKF Malta decided to design and execute an innovative statistical study to help gauge and analyse the perception of the Maltese society towards these asylum seekers (henceforth referred to as immigrants). Experts designed a questionnaire with a major focus on the overarching influence of the media and the main reasons why refugees flee their home country¸ finally assessing the level of acceptance (if any) by society and measuring the value of their contribution towards the economy.

When defining the ‘media’¸ it helps to quote Malcolm X¸ an African-American Muslim minister and a human rights activist who described it as “The most powerful entity on Earth. The media has the power to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent¸ and that is powerful because it controls the minds of the masses”.

Our study aims to highlight the contribution that immigrants can give and discover whether the authorities are creating opportunities for immigrants to maximize their potential. Our pilot study¸ when completed¸ will show the percentage of respondents who believe that immigrants can be a useful human resource. An interesting fact that must not go unnoticed is that through their contribution¸ immigrants are creating competition among job seekers hence improving the competitiveness of our economy.

All the questions within our study were designed in such a way as to explore existent relationships and address other sociological issues. A scientific sample involves interviewing about 500 Maltese residents and aims to achieve a confidence level of 95% with a margin of error of 4.38%. Respondents are randomly selected from all the districts in Malta¸ composed of different age groups and gender.

Initially¸ the study aimed to interview immigrants residing in open centres and in private residences¸ however due to logistical complications¸ it was agreed that it’s best to focus in the interim on the perception by locals until the authorities decide to issue the necessary permits to approach immigrants. The aim of this ambitious study is to help in eliminating any deeply rooted misconceptions in the anthropological field while at the same time having educational attributes.