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Our View: Opposition parties have been childish over a bill that was vital to the economy

Everyone has had their say about the fiasco of the bill on state guaranteed bank loans that the government withdrew from the legislature on Tuesday, because the 20 plus amendments made to it rendered it unenforceable. The flippant reaction of the opposition parties, mocking the government for sulking because it did not get its way, was a demonstration of how childish our parties and politicians can be.

If it were some trivial issue they were treating flippantly, nobody would say anything, but this was a bill to offer liquidity to cash-strapped businesses, which have had no revenue for the last two months, so they could operate as the economy restarts. The liquidity they were to receive in state-guaranteed loans from the banks would have allowed them to place orders for supplies and merchandise as well as avoid large-scale staff lay-offs.

Now this assistance will not be given and the opposition parties are gloating, because they forced the government to withdraw the bill with the amendments they made to it. Is depriving businesses of funding that would allow them to get through the difficulties caused by the lockdown something to rejoice about and an opportunity to make fun of the government for ‘losing its composure’, as Akel did? Even the very small businesses that were to receive direct financial assistance from the government, which had set aside €100m for them, as Akel had been demanding, will now get nothing.

In keeping with their childish behaviour, Diko and Akel took no responsibility for what had happened, putting all the blame on government. “The government of golden passports, jets and the collapse of the co-op bank is not allowed to object to audit and supervision,” said a Diko spokesman, in reference to his party’s ultimatum demanding observer status for the auditor-general in the lending process.

For Akel, the government was to blame for allegedly siding with the banks, which did not accept the amendments made by the parties. The assumption that the banks, which would be lending some €1.5bn, should not have a say in the process is too absurd for words, even if it fits in with Akel’s propaganda about the evil banks. We also had the evil employers’ organisations “threatening with sackings and pay cuts,” according to a report in the Akel mouthpiece.

This was in reference to warnings by the Chamber of Commerce, Keve, that without liquidity “the only thing we can expect is the closure of businesses, pay cuts, sackings, increase in unemployment and a fall in state revenue.” This is the grown-up approach that political parties would do well to embrace now, if the economy is to have a future.

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