Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stated that he wanted Malta to be among the first European countries to be able to strategically harness blockchain technology in government.
"We want to be one of the first in Europe to have a strategy that will enable us to harness the technology in government. We have ideas for land registration and the health sector. We like to experiment, like to test the limits of where we can go and what we can do."
Dr Muscat was taking questions from investors and journalists following a summit called “Follow the Entrepreneur”, hosted by Ariadne Capital at the Westin Dragonara. The event gathered leading investors and entrepreneurs from across Europe.
On business regulation, Dr Muscat said that this was almost a ‘necessary evil.’ “I don't subscribe to idea that business wants to be free from shackles. Regulation brings certainty which brings more business and puts consumers at ease. We should specialise in providing smart un-burdensome regulation which does not equate to bureaucracy. It's difficult to find people with the know-how to regulate other business without conflicts of interest in a country with limited human resources. This is a shortcoming and is an area where we need to attract more talent from elsewhere."
Furthermore, Dr Muscat said that Malta's infrastructure ‘is the island's Achilles heel.’ "Over the years we always planned for an infrastructure to cater for 500,000 people. While on paper we are 500,000 people, we host more or less one million at times. So planning infrastructure for half of that leads to an infrastructural deficit.” Dr Muscat said that Malta was trying to ‘up the game’ through various ways – by setting up the development bank, tapping EU funds for infrastructure-like waste management and finding ways to manage and produce energy out of waste.
During his main speech, he described Malta's first Presidency of the EU Council as positive, stating that Malta was able to make important and positive steps in the digital single market. "The digital market is a big part of the EU's future. We are not late comers when it comes to digital economy. Industrialisation in the manufacturing sector was driven by technology."
He said that Malta is not an economy based on any one particular sector, and outlined the country’s economic evolution. “We began as merchants. We thrived during wars and suffered during peace due to our strategic location in med and then evolved, going into manufacturing, tourism, financial services and the digital economy. We are an open economy and when we flirted with idea of surrounding ourselves with metaphorical walls it didn't work, and so we embraced openness in way we deal with economic cycles."
"I believe the future of Malta, of any country or region lies not in focusing on one thing, but going for a wide range of ideas, trying to portray an idea of leadership which is capable of listening to people. After listening we can act on those ideas."