Transparency, Good Governance, Ethical Business

On Wednesday, The Malta Chamber launched a document titled The Public Procurement Reform Report, which contains 36 recommendations on the entire procurement process.

The key recommendations in this document relate to the Blacklisting of operators, the implementation and management of Direct Orders and the Performance of Public Contracts post-award.

Click here to download the full report.


Economic operators who are in breach of the law, have to be sanctioned and should not be allowed to participate in public procurement or allowed to enter into public contracts. If contracting authorities do not backlist economic operators who have breached the law, the wrong message is sent to the ethical market and honest operators that everything goes.
Contracting authorities should reward economic operators who comply with the law, not only because this is the right thing to do, but because it is a cost for economic operators to comply with the law and contracting authorities must see that there is an equitable level playing field among all economic operators. This action will also reassure consumers of the effective use of public funds.

Direct Orders

The Malta Chamber does not disagree with the concept of directly awarded public contracts so long as their award is (i) duly substantiated and justified in accordance with the law; (ii) adequately publicised, ideally, through a Contract Register; and (iii) subject to scrutiny and judicial challenge by interested parties.

Performance of Public Contracts

The Malta Chamber submits that the monitoring of the performance of public contracts should also be shared with the private sector alike to other aspects of public procurement, obviously, with due respect to trade secrets and sensitive commercial information.

The Malta Chamber believes that in implementing the necessary recommendations, proposed in this document, the Maltese Government will improve the quality of the tendering process, ensure fairness to all economic operators and reassure the public of an equitable use of public funds.

Procurement Report 2021

The document is the result of a consultation process The Malta Chamber undertook by setting up a working group formed by individuals representing economic operators that have different levels of experience submitting tenders across different industry sectors. The document serves as valuable guidance for the necessary reforms that are needed in order to ensure that economic operators are on a level playing field when tendering for government purchasing opportunities. These reforms also serve to ensure that public funds are deployed to their best potential. The Chamber insists that such procurement exercises must be accessible to all eligible economic operators, free from impropriety and in compliance with the law. The Malta Chamber has strived to continue working on the importance of good governance, transparency and ethical business.

The Working Group was composed of Liz Barbaro Sant, Anton Borg, Marcel K. Mifsud, Maronna Filletti, Mary Gaerty, Roderick Abela and Julia Aquilina. Dr Clement Mifsud Bonnici (Ganado Advocates) was the technical advisor on the process.

The Malta Chamber submits that the continued consultation process is a testament to the fact that public procurement in Malta is extremely active and generally working well albeit a number of shortcomings; otherwise, economic operators would seek other opportunities elsewhere. At the same time, this Report confirms the core challenges identified by the Working Group.

The Malta Chamber is adamant and committed to engage in open dialogue with all stakeholders on this Report and to advocate for the adoption of the recommendations it contains.

Malta reiterates its continued support for EU-wide coordination on COVID19 matters

During a video conference meeting of the General Affairs Council of the European Union, Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi reiterated Malta’s support for continued EU-wide COVID-19 coordination.

The Portuguese Presidency of Council, which commenced on 1st January, convened the meeting to prepare for the EU leaders’ informal video conference meeting scheduled for this week, in which Prime Minister Robert Abela is expected to participate.

In his intervention, Dr Zrinzo Azzopardi welcomed the work by the European Commission on behalf of all member states in procuring the vaccines. He stated that it is now important for all member states and the Commission to work together to ensure that all the contractors live up to their obligations. He also welcomed the Commission’s efforts towards stepping-up the production of vaccines to accelerate deliveries.

Concerning vaccination certificates, Dr Zrinzo Azzopardi stated that a COVID-19 vaccination certificate should be used to facilitate the movement of persons within the EU, rather than act as a barrier to free movement. He further remarked that EU coordination on this issue is critical, as the absence of such coordination could lead to unilateral approaches that may themselves result in increased restrictions within the EU. Malta also looks forward to progress on the task mandated by leaders on the mutual recognition of tests.

The parliamentary secretary appealed for the consistent reassuring message to all our citizens, that their efforts are paying off while continuing to remain vigilant and adhere to the measures communicated by the respective health authorities.

Other items on the agenda of the meeting included a discussion on the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency as well as the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Getting accustomed to Brexit – a technical webinar

Numerous members, predominantly operating in importation, but not only, attended an information session organised by The Malta Chamber, titled ‘Getting accustomed to Brexit’. The online event was addressed by Customs officials who provided crucial information about the new reality of importation of goods to Malta from the UK, post-Brexit.

Andre Fenech, Head of Policy at the Malta Chamber, said that Brexit had affected the operation of several businesses, as the UK remains one of the main partner countries to Malta, while he welcomed guests to the event. Britain leaving the European Union meant that it officially became a third country, triggering a new regime under which the importation and exportation of goods needed to be operated.

Moderating the event, Mr Fenech said that The Malta Chamber was once again providing its members with the exclusive opportunity to ask the right questions to the right people, from the comfort of their own desks.

‘Business as usual’ can take up to 3 years to attain

In an interview with The Malta Independent’s Kevin Schembri Orland, The Malta Chamber President, Perit David Xuereb spoke about what this year holds in terms of economic opportunities and challenges, and Malta returning to ‘business as usual’.

The Chamber President said that reaching the economic levels of 2019 will most likely take at least two years. “According to The Malta Chamber assessment, although a sense of normality would be reached as soon as herd immunity is achieved in terms of everyday life, the quality of life that we were experiencing in 2019 will take around two to three years to attain,” he said.

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s statement, that he wants to see the country return to business as usual by May, Xuereb noted that “it would be incredibly unrealistic to think that all economic issues would be resolved.”

When asked about his predictions for 2021, The Chamber President said: “What will determine the success in which we achieve ‘business as usual’ is the manner in which public funds are spent,”. Noting “Last year, our 10% deficit was brought about not only due to a reduction in business but also because we were justifiably spending a lot of funds on the wage supplement in order to retain employment. If that money was not spent, we would have had many thousands of people facing unemployment. So the ability to pay those wages and retain people in employment over the past months now helps the economy to react and adjust itself more quickly” he said.

The Chamber President emphasised the importance of understanding how effective the vaccine is in the long term to truly assess if an improvement can be seen on the horizon for businesses through enhanced consumer confidence in the second half of 2021.

“I really hope that in June we would have 80% of the population vaccinated in order to plan and implement the required re-engineering schemes to restore Malta’s economy,” noted Xuereb.

The Chamber President concluded by saying that although The Malta Chamber wishes to heighten business activity across the country, it would be highly irresponsible to act too quickly. “We should therefore act responsibly if we are to drive for a truly improved national quality of life based on honesty and intelligence,” said Xuereb.

Malta Chamber commends postponement of vouchers

The Malta Chamber commends the Government’s decision to postpone the issue of the second round of vouchers, in the interest of public health.

As it has said all throughout the pandemic, The Malta Chamber reiterates its position that all, and any initiatives taken must, at all times reflect, the highest public health interest. The Government’s decision, as announced by the Minister of the Economy yesterday is hence commended.

While the issue of vouchers is eagerly anticipated by many business operators, as it is expected to once again inject a much-needed impetus into the economy, priorities of public safety must take precedence.

Initially, the second round of vouchers was expected to be issued by mid-January. Following a statement by the Economy Ministry on Monday evening, it was announced that while preparations are complete, the Government is first consulting with the health authorities and stakeholders, and could wait until bars and entertainment venues are reopened on 1st February (so far), before launching the voucher roll-out. 

The vouchers total €100, as with the first round, and are to be given to all Maltese residents over 16 years of age. Of the €100, €60 has been allotted for accommodation and restaurants, while €40 has been allotted for retail outlets.

Be Wise, Immunise!

It has been a very difficult 10 months for all, however the most to have been affected by the Covid19 pandemic is, without a doubt, the healthcare sector. Our hospitals have been working endlessly to keep the sick safe, and by ‘the sick’ we do not mean only those hit by the covid19 virus.

Besides our hospitals, homes for the elderly have experienced a very difficult period trying to keep the most vulnerable safe. The elderly, were and still are being kept away from their loved ones, have been practically ‘entrapped’ in their homes, and yet have been the most to have fallen victim of this horrendous killer! Could there ever be any better reason for them to be given priority when it comes to taking the vaccine?

Over these 10 months, Care Home Operators, together with their Business Section representatives within The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, have been working endlessly to keep the residents of their respective homes safe. From full lock down to a partial lock down which saw staff and elderly being swabbed for the virus regularly and elderly confined to small bubbles and then, worse, confined to their rooms. One would think that this way, all residents in homes would have stayed safe yet one must not forget that there are other ailments to affect the elderly. From diabetes to hypertension, to strokes and heart failures, all but a few of the regular occurrences in homes that lead to the residents having to go to our hospitals. The result? As long as the number of covid19 cases continue to increase amongst the public, more people contracting the virus need to be hospitalised and in turn, there is a greater chance of the elderly to come into contact with the virus itself. Simply because they had to be treated for other illnesses. Not because of their going out to socialise, not because of people working with them being indifferent or careless!

Home operators have not stopped with their measures to protect the residents in their care. An initiative taken by the homes is to build on a campaign to better educate the residents, their relatives, staff and the general public on why we should ‘be wise and immunise’, the slogan chosen for the campaign. Experts in the field have been engaged by home operators to explain the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine which is the first to arrive in our country. They explain the tests that were done to finally come out with this vaccine, they explain the myths and the facts of the vaccine and give us many different reasons why one should definitely consider getting immunised.

Let’s look at the number of people that have succumbed to the virus, let us look at their ages and let us look at our loved ones in their age group whom we could easily lose had they to contract the virus. This alone is reason enough why the elderly should be given the vaccine sooner rather than later, why they should be the ones, besides health care workers, on the very top of the list for the vaccine. No if’s or buts just facts! ‘To protect the vulnerable’ ‘to save a life’ and to give ‘more time’ to the people that have sacrificed so much for us time and time again.

Three posters, complete with QR codes for more information, have been produced by The Malta Chamber Elderly Home Operators Business Section, to accompany this campaign.

Prime Minister acknowledges forward thinking approach of The Malta Chamber

“Looking back at the notion of ‘Business Reengineering’ that was proposed by The Malta Chamber a few months back, I can now fully appreciate the vision that the organisation had for a brighter economic future,” said Prime Minister Robert Abela.

Malta’s Prime Minister was addressing a political activity on the challenges faced during the pandemic and the need to learn in order to enhance the overall quality of life through factors such as good governance, digitalisation and the green economy. During his speech, he mentioned the importance of viewing Covid-19 as a primary catalyst for much-needed change.

As he was thanking the major stakeholders that are driving and leading Malta towards a sustainable future during such a troublesome period, Abela acknowledges the forward-thinking approach that The Malta Chamber, and more specifically the President of The Malta Chamber, Perit David Xuereb undertakes to truly achieve its goal of being the true voice of business.

The element of ‘business reengineering’ was in fact the theme behind an event held during SME week, and it is very much a principle value for The Malta Chamber, especially during this challenging period of time.

A ‘fairer’ system in aiding Covid-19 hit businesses

Commenting on the new COVID wage supplement scheme, which was announced this week, Perit David Xuereb expressed The Malta Chamber’s satisfaction for a fairer system.

Details were provided during a press conference addressed by Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development Minister the Hon Miriam Dalli.

“As Malta’s foremost business representative body, The Malta Chamber is proud to have collaborated closely with the concerned Ministry and Malta Enterprise throughout the past months, to help support our businesses and Malta’s economy at large”, noted Perit Xuereb.

“Covid has allowed us to appreciate our human resources more than ever. The scheme will continue to provide enterprises with the much-needed support to help them retain their expertise onboard. This will certainly continue to maintain a healthy employer-employee relationship, the backbone to any successful business,” said Xuereb.

Minister Miriam Dalli and Malta Enterprise CEO, Mr Kurt Farrugia explained that the scheme will be based on loss of turnover, and will not discriminate in favour of one sector rather than another. The support will be calculated according to the difference in turnover declared by a business over six months between March and October 2019, against turnover declared over six months between March and October 2020.

Preparing for the challenges of 2021

During the programme ‘Dritt għall-Punt’, presented by Roderick Agius on NET TV, The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry President, Perit David Xuereb weighed in on the possible political, environmental and economic challenges Malta will face in the next twelve months.

Commenting on the journey towards normality, Perit Xuereb started off by saying that although 2019 was considered to be a ‘normal’ year, that did not mean that improvements were not called for. “The pandemic provided us with the right time to actually stop and think of new ways to improve our day-to-day lives, from both a business, professional and personal point of view,” he said.

Perit Xuereb emphasised the importance to continue to appreciate and benefit from the lessons learnt as a result of the experience of Covid-19. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle was a true and real part of everyone’s lives in 2020. Let us ensure that the new habits and routines that we have adopted in the past months are cherished and improved upon in the near future,” continued The Chamber President.

Xuereb noted that until herd immunity is achieved, the Covid-19 risk will remain very much present and real. “We simply cannot stress enough the importance to follow the guidelines that the health authorities are providing, now more than ever, as the vaccine rollout is well underway. Only by acting in a disciplined manner can we hope to see the economy recuperate,” said Perit Xuereb.

“As Malta’s largest business representative body, the interest of our country’s general wellbeing is very close to our heart. As we have done in the past, The Malta Chamber is a firm believer in bringing together Malta’s smartest minds and stakeholders to work towards a common goal in an aligned, honest and energised manner. Only by joining forces, can we tackle the challenges that this year will present in an effective manner. The main stakeholders of the country need to act as responsible role models to make sure that the public is well informed and motivated” explained Xuereb.

Perit Xuereb said that it was crucial for all political and social partners and businesses alike, be aligned towards achieving the objectives of good governance and respect for the rule of law that are led by people of integrity. “Positive developments have been witnessed to achieve these objectives over the past months, but we need to remain relentless and vigilant to ensure that we leave no stone unturned in this respect. This will ensure the sustainable development of our society and our economy that will enable the true improvement of the quality life of our people based on honesty, integrity and professionalism.”

Dr George Vidal Zammit was also a guest on the programme.