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Network News • 06-01-2022

2030: A travelogue cautions us to be contrite

Author: George Mangion - Senior Partner PKF Malta
Published on Business Today: 6th January 2022

This is a fantasy trip which sees us travelling on a time machine to 2030. Our economy has recovered fully from the human toil of the pandemic and new medical breakthroughs have fortified our resistance against new pathogens. Forget lockdowns and curfews introduced in the past to combat infections: countries now see a new renaissance of growth and tranquility.

Our political leaders warn us to calm down, land in reality. Only then, can we say that the world will go on turning, one way or another. The prediction of gloom so common in the past has now given way to a fresh insight to humanity. Past doomsayers warned us that the pandemic will never be mastered and very shortly due to climate change, the earth becomes a desert planet.

In truth humanity did not die out − people found ways and solutions. There are indeed challenging developments but we will adapt to them, just as we have continuously adapted to all.

In Malta, we are feeling contrite that past sacrifices to fight the pandemic rendered good results.  The transition period has given space to correct past mistakes.  For a start, to rethink the foundations of the tourism industry going away from the cheap and cheerful visitor country to a cleaner, greener island - attracting better paying tourists.

In fact, our economy improved vastly following the investment in oil and gas exploration with the prospects of hitting offshore gas supplies which can be used internally and/or exported to the European mainland.  It is expected that a net (after expenses) windfall of one billion euro annually is secured from this source.

The dream of turning the island into a mini Aberdeen is taking shape and various lawyers are focused to serve the needs of the oil and gas international community which surrounds us in the Med.

Another minor consolation is a growing sector of twelve new producers approved for the export of medicinal cannabis.  The new riches have improved the lifestyle of locals.  Unemployment is under control and finally government has dumped the COLA mechanism, replacing it with a scientific formula that works out the true increase in cost of living.

Such affluence has rekindled old traditions that during the three years of pandemic has waned and almost petered out.  With full employment and effective control over inflation, the country is booming with enthusiasm to regain its national character which since the pandemic was waxing and waning.  No more parties restricted to 300 sitting patrons.  Wearing of face masks and keeping our social distance has given way to the Maltese love of hospitality and joy of outdoor living.  The merrymaking in village feasts, carnival, Notte Bianca, classical opera and candlelight fete in Birgu came back with a vengeance.

Gone are the perils of hugging and kissing our dear ones and welcome summer open barbecues with a bang.   Every Saturday we go to the seaside to spend time with families and friends.  As a result, from afar on the beaches you can see dozens of lights from small fires.  Along the shore you can find a lot of pavilions offering various products for barbecue.  We have revisited a host of habits, customs, demands and so-called “normalities” that have never been seen before during the three years of the pandemic.  In 2030 youths are all computer literate and sport 6G smart phones.

On reflection, have we removed inequality in our society in 2030?  Not entirely.  The 70,000 persons who are in the poverty trap still wait in the queue for the daily soup kitchen routine.  cannabis (now legalised and distributed at village coffee shops) has calmed avid users of CBD oils while most of the rest, reach out for deliverance in private inhaling THC oils laced with its hallucinating kicks.

Classic architecture in cities and villages has seen a metamorphism which saw traditional two storey houses being pulled down and replaced by soulless condominiums ten storeys high.  Again, alternative building materials replace the use of the hitherto honey coloured indigenous stone.

On another aspect of domestic life, political leaders make us enjoy innovation.  Robots and mechanization carry favour with Castille boffins and grants are being offered to innovators flourishing in an expanded Life Sciences Park next to Mater Dei hospital.  This knowledge factory is meant to attract talent and deliver innovation (a fantasy wish to mimic Silicon Valley).

But not all is lost, as a higher investment in R&D over the years has enabled the community to achieve a higher standard of wellbeing.  This reads: less work leads to increased leisure time and flexibility over time use.

Advanced technology can recognize human speech and respond to it to perform specific tasks around the house.  Smart phone apps running can interact with one’s home and gifted kids can handle the grocery list and book its delivery.  Moreover, homes of the super-rich living in stratospheric heights in Mercury house have walls endowed with nanotechnology that can project outside views, alternatively by using the Metaverse they can project a real-time scenery from the beaches, giving the residents a holistic feel-good experience.

Walls display movies, collateral information, environmental information, data about public transportation and weather schedules.  They provide information and entertainment but will also upgrade homes to a dynamic atmosphere by lighting scenarios matching to the time of day, the mood of the user, their health conditions. Homes can now generate a good part of their clean energy by cheap PV panels.

Thanks to advances in communications, the `Illuminati’ can enjoy an extravaganza of home entertainment systems which combine augmented reality, virtual reality with mediated reality movies.

For the high heeled, they enjoy interactive home entertainment systems that intensify end-of-year festivities making it more attractive and sensual than ever before.

Demographic trends point to longer life expectancy combined with a lower birth rate, this adds to the enigma of a larger cohort of senior folks at home. Naturally, this phenomenon dictates a cautious approach how to plan leisure time.  Again, it is not a rose garden - a grim situation in 2030 camouflages doses of corruption, racism, avarice, job discrimination, plundering of national assets for the benefit of the privileged, widespread cronyism and nepotism.

In conclusion, it appears that islanders have not learned much from mistakes of the past and as a consequence, they must pay for sins of omission.

Author: George Mangion - Senior Partner PKF Malta
Published on Business Today: 6th January 2022
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