MaltaToday, 20 Feb 2008 | ‘We’ll be businesslike and cut red tape’ – Sant visits De La Rue

NEWS | Sunday, 20 February 2008

‘We’ll be businesslike and cut red tape’ – Sant visits De La Rue

Karl Schembri

Labour leader Alfred Sant seemed quite at home in a money factory yesterday in contrast with the previous day’s ill-starred performance at university.
Visiting the De La Rue currency printing factory in Bulebel yesterday, Sant said the facility there was a success story that proved the manufacturing industry was still possible despite investments minister Austin Gatt’s bets that all factories would close down.
The secret, Sant said, was for government to be businesslike with foreign investors, cut bureaucracy and give prompt replies to queries from interested parties.
“We will keep encouraging and giving our help to factories like this,” Sant said after he was toured around the factory while journalists were kept waiting in a room as part of the factory’s security measures.
“We have to stop the excessive bureaucracy, give clear signals to foreign investors that they’re welcome here, give replies and decisions in two to three months and not keep sending them from Caiphas to Pilate. Time is money in industry.”
The factory had opened in the 1970s and had expressed its concerns with Sant’s government in 1996 on whether it could still operate here.
“We gave them a clear signal they were more than welcome here, and gave them the tax cuts they had a right to enjoy, so they not only confirmed their presence here but also their expansion,” he said.
Sant said a Labour government would increase manufacturing employment by 2,000 jobs. He referred to the factory’s current overtime that amounted to 20 to 25 per cent of the whole workload, presenting am opportunity for the factory workers to earn more under Labour’s pledge to cut tax on overtime.
Labour would also seek to attract investment from China, Russia and Kuwait, Sant added.

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