The Director of the Malta Development Corporation, Mr Karm Farrugia, is confident that Malta can survive economically if Britain withdraws from the island.
GV & SV Mr Farrugia seated (2 shots)
SV & CU Farrugia interviewed
DAVIS: "Do you feel the effects of the British withdrawal have been exaggerated by the press?
FARRUGIA: Well, I think so. For example the thing that has been given too much importance - more than it deserves - is the amount of spending of the British forces and their families spend here. One must understand that out of every one pound that is spent here, the national economy would not gain anything like a pound in my estimation. It would be no more than 40 percent of that. Therefore when one compares and takes about forty million or thirty million as being the annual spending, if these spendings evaporate into nothing we lose no more than four or five million out of that.
DAVIS: How do you plan to provide fresh work for the five thousand workers left redundant if the British withdrawal continues?
FARRUGIA: Well, we have made contact with many countries. We who would like to have a diversified economy not only in the sense of different industries but also from different countries, providing know-how and investment from various countries. And then besides that we are very mid-way between two large markets. The growth market of the Northern African countries, Libya, Morocco and so on - as well as the European market with which we are associated and in which the next ten years we have special advantages.
DAVIS: There has been talk of Libya offering economic cooperation.
FARRUGIA: Oh yes indeed. That is very true. For example the Libya market will be for us to take if we can provide enough incentive for the Libyans to invest here and then make them buy for their own requirements for the production that takes place in Malta. And Libya is itself associated with a group of Arab countries to which market we could also have access here for Malta.
DAVIS: So there are strong alternatives if the British do withdraw completely.
FARRUGIA: Oh, yes indeed. Otherwise there would be no point in reaching this stage of bargaining, if there were no alternatives.
DAVIS: Thank you very much indeed."
Farrugia and Davis during interview.
Initials SGM/2135 SGM/2200
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The Director of the Malta Development Corporation, Mr Karm Farrugia, is confident that Malta can survive economically if Britain withdraws from the island.
Mr Farrugia is a 39-year-old- British-educated economist, who was appointed by the Maltese Prime Minister, Mr Mintoff, to be a watchdog over the island's economy.
Mr Farrugia on Saturday (22 Jan) discussed the possible effects of British withdrawal with Visnews reporter, Martin Davis.