As the general election looms nearer, hyperbole inflates. Robert Abela yesterday said 2021 would be “one of the best years in Malta’s history”. Best at what? What’s this forecast based on? Is it an economic projection? What is that premised on?

Right now, the government should be working flat out to give this country a chance for an early recovery from the covid depression. But everyone’s back of the envelope calculations are showing that the rate of vaccinations is way too slow. Much, much slower than elsewhere in the world.

That advert promoting the arrival of the vaccine showed an empty freezer waiting for it. The freezer has been well and truly fed but the arms of the vulnerable are mostly without inoculation.

It seems the prime minister thinks he can get this job done by talking about how great the world will be when it’s done. It’s like painting a picture of a Sunday roast while the meat is still inside the supermarket’s freezer.

Robert Abela promises us we’ll be bursting with money come May. It will be, he says, like Covid never happened. Economic operators are less excited. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any science backing Robert Abela’s forecasts. Just wishful thinking.

In his One TV “interview” yesterday he said he fully expects Malta to pass the FATF/Moneyval test during 2021. If he’s saying that, it must be because he’s been given a credible indication that he has good reason to be hopeful. Great, but let’s be clear, that is not a success in itself.

The fact that we will have averted a full-blown disaster does not mean we are living the best of times. It doesn’t mean the rest of the world will trust us to do business. It doesn’t mean that we can beat the sluggishness of the world’s economy. It doesn’t mean that we don’t need to bother diversifying our economic activity away from the businesses that put us in the mess we’re in.

“I don’t just want us to return to where we were before the pandemic hit, I want us to climb up a step. We don’t just want the economy to return to normal in May, but we want it to return to strong institutions, a strong sense of governance and strong authorities.” How? What is being done to achieve this? The corrupt remain free, justice remains elusive, and reforms, such as they are, are limited in scope, deceptive in nature and orphans of any ownership as the government refuses to engage anyone outside itself in their design.

Look at what Judge Giovanni Bonello had to say on his expectations on institutional reform. “I will believe that the rule of law has left the ITU when I see the first important politically exposed person made accountable. So far, not one has been. All the institutions that had to see to that, like the prosecution services, the police, parts of the judiciary, have developed irreversible stiff necks through looking resolutely the other way. What we’ve had so far is deceptive window dressing.”

In May 2017 we were promised “l-aqwa żmien” and were immediately hurled into a murderous catastrophe, a journalist was killed, ministers caught in corruption remained free, the rule of law was undermined and made to serve the rule of delinquents.

Now we’re being promised “the best year yet”. The dread of it all.