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MALTATODAY 3 January 2021

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12 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 3 JANUARY 2021 NEWS 1. A general election If Robert Abela's wish to see the country return to business as usual by May does materialise and the poll numbers remain in his favour, the Prime Minister may just be tempted to call an election for June. It will be a short and intense election campaign – Abela's first as Labour leader. 2. Bernard Grech This will be Bernard Grech's year of formation. The PN leader will want to consolidate his grip on the party, strengthen his public persona and reach out to voters who have abandoned the PN. But he could be rudely interrupted by a general election. This means Grech will have to act fast, diligently and efficiently in the first three months - a massive undertaking given his relative newness to party politics. 3. COVID-19 vaccine The roll-out of the first coronavirus vaccines has started and logistics are in place to have an orderly inoculation programme. Health authorities want to reach herd immunity as early as possible but this will also depend on the supply capacity of pharma companies producing the vaccines. Short of a virus mutation that will be resistant to the vaccine, there is hope the pandemic emergency will end by the first half of 2021. 4. Economic recovery The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts a slow and painful global recovery that will be uneven across different sectors. Malta will be no different. Some companies will close, others will consolidate and yet others will shift their business model towards digital services. Jobs will be lost and financial institutions are likely to face a raft of non-performing loans. But there will also be opportunities for diversification and growth. Watch out for the green shoots in the second half of 2021 as tourism starts to pick up. 5. Jobs and incomes A MaltaToday survey last December registered unemployment as a concern for the first time in many months. It is likely to persist in the new year. Government wage support will remain an important factor to prevent mass redundancies until the economy starts to chug along. While some will lose their job, others will contend with Kurt Sansone's list is the only one you may want to refer back to at the end of the year 21 things to look out for in the new year Something borrowed for 2021? Is there anything we learnt in 2020 under the difficult 'year of the pandemic' that we should retain in our lives? We asked a few experts and writers on a different kind of new year's resolution Lara Calleja AUTHOR and activist Lara Calle- ja, winner of 2020's National Book Prize for Best Emergent Author, said that COVID-19 introduced a digital element in almost every sec- tor of work in Malta. "I believe that an element of face- to-face contact with colleagues should be kept, but with jobs that can be done digitally I feel that there should always be an option to carry out the work beyond the office, while leaving a few days where you have to go to the of- fice," she said. She says she wants government to create tax subsidy incentives for companies to encourage these initiatives. "Govern- m e n t can only benefit f r o m this, since it will decrease the burden of traf- fic and road m a i n t e n a n c e that comes with it." She said that back in December 2019, she had handed in her resig- nation from a job that was done at the office alone. Aside from want- ing a change, the thing that pushed her to leave was the fact that she couldn't work from home, even if the work could have been done in a completely digital manner. "I also resigned so that I could e n - ter the world of freelance writing," she said. "The amount of stress has been reduced, due to long hours in traffic or the hours spent preparing myself for work, is enormous." Calleja said that being able to split one's time better shouldn't be a luxury, but a basic right. The world of work in Malta should adopt a structure of task comple- tion rather than a fixed-time regi- ment, she said. "In this way employers can be sure that the work is be- ing done, while on the oth- er hand workers are moti- vated by the fact that they can choose their own time and place to work with- out too much interfer- ence." "Being able to split one's time better shouldn't be a luxury, but a basic right"

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