9 key action points for sustainable economic growth

During a panel discussion at a seminar organised by the Ministry for the Economy and Industry together with MIMCOL, Dr Marthese Portelli, CEO of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry weighed in on the importance of sustainable economic growth for a future-proof Malta.

Addressing attendees during the ‘Malta’s Economic Vision 2021 – 2031 National Consultation for Pillar 1 – Sustainable Economic Growth’, Dr Portelli noted that the Vision reflects and is in sync with The Malta Chamber’s Smart & Sustainability document and Think Tank proposals. “The Vision’s thought process is holistic and positive, particularly the drive towards innovation over quick fixes. The Malta Chamber reiterates the importance of coherence throughout and across government ministries, authorities and departments. The secret of the Vision’s success depends on effective implementation and therefore it is crucial to develop it together with industry and business stakeholders.” said the CEO.

Dr Portelli highlighted 9 key action points that must be prioritised for a sustainable way forward:

1. Targets must be realistic.

2. Address our export propensity from an island microstate perspective, particularly by addressing our insular economic hurdles even at European and international fora.

3. Ensure continuous dialogue with business stakeholders to avoid knee jerk reactions which disrupt business stability.

4. Bottom-up tailor-made incentives per industry which are designed effectively to address the sector’s requirements, rather than a one-size-fits-all.

5. Identify industries that generate real value added towards our country and help them to proliferate.

6. Give due recognition to industries and businesses that contribute positively towards attaining a sustainable environment and promote their corporate best practices for wider uptake.

7. Create required inhouse training schemes to address the issue of industry and skills availability mismatch.

8. Better awareness of industry career opportunities during career guidance campaigns. This is crucial for industries to grow and expand as it will provide qualitative employment prospects and also serve to bridge the industry needs with educational readiness.

9. Ensuring that everyone has digital knowledge, digital literacy and analytical competence which goes beyond basic skills and basic use. We need to move towards data-powered enterprise that will help scale new business and reimagine consumer engagement models.

Dr Portelli concluded by saying that as a nation the country is at a very important juncture and called for political maturity in politics. “Political Maturity is not just desirable – it is vital. Beyond mere words, we need to see it actually happening and being put into practice.”

EU fit-for 55 package necessary for the climate, but not without risks, says Malta Business Bureau

Yesterday (14 July), the European Commission published the Fit-for 55 package, the legislative tool to deliver on the European Green Deal, and more specifically to meet the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. The package includes several legislative proposals, some of which are new, such as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, and others revising existing legislations, such as the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Directives, the Energy Tax Directive, and the Emissions Trading Scheme.

These legislations will surely impact businesses and consumers, whether directly or indirectly. It is accepted that the status quo is not sustainable. The MBB consistently said that the question is not if we should meet ambitious climate targets, but how to achieve this without undermining the competitiveness of business, particularly SMEs, and those operating in the periphery of the EU. One also needs to ensure that EU measures are done in line with international rules to avoid retaliation by other global competitors that would interpret EU unilateral measures as discriminatory towards them.

MBB President Alison Mizzi welcomed the Fit-for 55 package, stating that “This is the EU’s commitment to lead the global fight against climate change. However, it is equally important that Europe leads the way while ensuring that it does not do this on its own. We need to ensure a collective effort to avoid unfair competition and the risk of carbon leakage.”

Ms. Mizzi also emphasized that “This regulatory package needs to enable other frameworks adopted by the EU to support the transition towards a green and digital economy. EU Funding Instruments, including Cohesion Policy and the Recovery and Resilience Fund are important funding tools providing the enabling conditions for business to undertake investment contributing towards a Greener Europe. The path towards a Greener Europe is expected to contribute towards new investments and the creation of new green jobs.”

The MBB however cautioned that the Fit-for 55 package, or certain elements of it, should not undermine individual member states and specific sectors that are strategic to the economy. For instance, while incentivizing clean energy for the transport sector is a good policy approach, the impact of taxing kerosene for aviation and maritime sectors over the next decade needs to be studied in detail to quantify the impact in the context of the current economic scenario as well as the impact on peripheral countries such as Malta and other island states or regions that are entirely dependent on these two sectors for the export and import of all cargo as well as tourism activity.

The MBB will be analysing this EU legislative package and discuss with the Maltese business community the challenges and opportunities it brings.

The Malta Chamber strengthens alliance with Ganado Advocates

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has signed a bronze collaboration alliance with Ganado Advocates.

To further this mission towards a ‘level playing field for all’, Ganado Advocates shall support the newly established ‘Procurement and Competition Committee’ with the aim of enhancing The Chamber’s work on public procurement while developing its competition policy. Furthermore, the leading commercial law firm will support in employment related matters through the HR and talent committee. Ahead of the signing, the President of The Malta Chamber, Ms Marisa Xuereb noted that The Chamber is constantly seeking to be Malta’s true voice of business by teaming up with national business champions.

“Policy representation has always been a major pillar of The Malta Chamber. Through this alliance with Ganado Advocates, The Chamber will be strengthening its policy-making capacity to remain a proactive player within Malta’s business sphere,” said Xuereb.

Commenting on the partnership, Dr Andre Zerafa, Managing Partner at Ganado Advocates, said “We are pleased to be collaborating with The Malta Chamber on this initiative. The firm aims to be of service to policymakers, supporting them in the formulation of nation-wide strategies across a wide spectrum of business sectors and economic activity, including public procurement. We’re confident that, through this collaboration, we will be in a position to actively support the private-public alliance in Malta and beyond.”

In its mission to promote transparency and good governance practices, The Malta Chamber has collaborated with Ganado Advocates earlier this year by publishing ‘The Public Procurement Reform Report’ with 36 tangible recommendations.

The Bronze Collaboration Agreement was signed by Ms Marisa Xuereb and Mr Christopher Vassallo Cesareo as President and Deputy President of The Malta Chamber respectively, and Dr Andre Zerafa, Managing Partner of Ganado Advocates.

BNF Bank supports Hospice Malta

With philanthropy, health and wellbeing forming a strong part of the Bank’s social responsibility efforts, BNF Bank is committed to being of service to the community’s social progress and pledges its support by funding local, non-profit organizations that make a difference in people’s lives. Hospice Malta, a specialist palliative care provider, is one of the beneficiaries of the Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

The non-profit organization provides free of charge patient-centered palliative care, in conjunction with the emotional and psychosocial support to patients and their families at a time when they are most vulnerable and in need of love and support. BNF Bank values Hospice Malta’s ongoing commitment to alleviating human suffering through palliative care services to patients and their families.

As part of the Bank’s monthly #Yourcause initiatives, staff at BNF Bank managed to raise a substantial sum together with an additional donation presented during the local Hospice telethon held earlier on this year. This donation was provided towards St Michael Hospice funding, a new journey embarked by Hospice Malta for the first Hospice Complex for palliative care services in St Venera. Part of the services will include a day therapy unit, in-patient rooms for short-term stays, outdoor garden areas as well as an education department.

During the formal presentation to Hospice Malta, Mr. George Debono, BNF Bank’s Chief Commercial Officer, recognised the efforts made throughout the year by Hospice Malta in providing the care and assistance to sufferers and immediate relatives. “We are very pleased to support Hospice Malta in their mission to provide and promote the highest standard of palliative care for patients together with proper support to their families”, Mr Debono said. “Driven by the highest principles of social responsibility, BNF Bank will continue to be very active in this type of initiatives as we thrive to leave a lasting positive impact in our community.”

Join the Hospice Supporter community. Visit https://hospicemalta.org/ for more information.

The Future of Working from Home

“The Malta Chamber is a strong believer in a hybrid model with regards to working from home. Due to the responsibilities present today, a degree of flexibility, whenever possible, is not only vital but is also an added perk to employees,” said Ms Fabianne Ruggier, Chair of the HR and Talent Committee at The Malta Chamber during an event organised by the Malta Business Bureau.

Ms Ruggier continued by noting that planning needs to be implemented in organising a sustainable hybrid model that provides a balance between the employees’ level of work and the employers’ expectations. Furthermore, companies also need to address the hybrid model from a structural point of view.

Ms Ruggier was part of a panel discussion during a three-part lunchtime live web series focusing on working from home and remote working organised by MBB.

When discussing the recent study carried out by MBB and economist Dr Marie Briguglio to assess the potential of working from home in Malta, Ms Ruggier explained that the right infrastructures need to be in place for this “new” work approach to be a true success.

“As Chair of the HR and Talent Thematic Committee at The Chamber, I strongly believe that companies need to invest in a robust and well-developed HR department with strong performance management process to truly embrace the hybrid work-from-home model,” said Ms Ruggier.

She concluded by noting that the emphasis should be on monitoring KPIs, rather than the time itself.

The HR and Talent Committee at The Malta Chamber is sponsored by RSM Malta.

Malta Chamber presents its ‘education for the future’ document to the Opposition

A delegation from The Malta Chamber, led by President Ms Marisa Xuereb and CEO Dr Marthese Portelli, presented the recently launched document prepared by its Education Thematic Committee, ‘Education for the Future’ to Hon. Clyde Puli, Shadow Minister for Education & Sports.

During the meeting at The Malta Chamber, President Xuereb highlighted the three priorities in the said document.
• Vocational educational training
• Upskilling / reskilling
• Future of education

Ms Xuereb said that “the main aim behind the creation of the Education Thematic Committee was to bridge the gap between education and industry. By prioritising these three factors, we can ensure that the current and future workforces are prepared well enough by obtaining the right skills to address the employers’ and economy’s needs.”

In this context, the committee was set up to propose tangible measures to strengthen the alignment between educational curriculum and employer requirements while also serve as a catalyst to bring the necessary change that will benefit educational institutions, students and employers.

The document dwells on the importance of lifelong learning, having periodical curriculum reviews, developing and empowering educators, and introducing Social Emotional Learning and Service Learning for both students and teachers.

The Chairperson of the committee is Ms Claudine Attard, the Vice Chairperson is Christopher Bezzina while the members are Ms Mariella Galea, Mr Stephan Vella, Dr Nadia Maria Vassallo, Ms Fiona Captur, Mr Antonello Cappitta. The coordinator of the committee is Ms Julia Aquilina.

HSBC Malta supports Malta Chamber webinar on trade finance solutions

HSBC Bank Malta and The Malta Chamber recently organised a webinar titled ‘Opening up a world of opportunity – Exploring Structured Trade Finance Solutions’, which highlights the importance of managing risk in global trade and supply chains for business growth. During the webinar HSBC also presented its structured trade finance solutions that facilitate international trade and help businesses optimise their working capital.

Global business has seen several disruptions in recent years. The coronavirus pandemic, a major disruptor in the past 16 months, has accelerated the need and willingness for innovation in the digital space, as well as environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) practices. Additionally, potential cyberfraud, geopolitical concerns, looming inflationary and unemployment pressures are creating significant hurdles for international trade, as well as businesses locally.

Gaetano Sammut, Head of Global Trade and Receivables Finance at HSBC Malta, said: “HSBC plays a key role in international trade finance. Our global trade solutions enable clients to trade with confidence and finance their international business. HSBC is able to support companies in analysing the trade cycle, understanding working capital requirements and strengthening customer and supplier networks around the world. These aspects are crucial for safe and sustainable business growth.”

Discussing key working capital considerations in 2021, Andrew Robison, Regional Head of Sales Global Trade and Receivables Finance and Commodity Structured Trade Finance Europe at HSBC Bank plc, said: “In the still pandemic-stricken global economy, managing liquidity remains as important as ever. The pandemic has sparked challenges in the international supply chains and left an impact on cash flow, liquidity and balance sheets, which have enhanced the importance of risk management. HSBC offers solutions throughout the entire trade cycle for businesses, helping them to optimise working capital by blending operational efficiencies and financial tools that support enhancing cash flows and reducing costs.”

Addressing attendees, Nicholas Xuereb, Vice President of The Malta Chamber, said: “Trade finance is an important tool for cross-border trade and can help businesses looking to grow and scale up. Among the various benefits, trade finance solutions offer a number of financial instruments that are advantageous to companies who are seeking to broaden their horizons through their internationalisation efforts.” Mr Xuereb also noted that these solutions are particularly important during these challenging times as they allow businesses to be more flexible in the current economic setting.