The Malta Chamber insists on better communication between businesses and MBR

Today, The Malta Chamber held a conference as part of SME Week 2021 in collaboration with the Malta Business Registry under the auspices of the Ministry of the Economy and Industry titled Meeting Compliance Requirements.

The Chamber President Marisa Xuereb said, “Compliance and good governance are a priority, and should not be regarded as a legal imposition but as a behavioural obligation arising out of ethical responsibility.” President Xuereb continued by identifying five (5) guiding points that businesses should adhere to when it comes to compliance requirements:

1. Understand what is required, when and why
2. Identify supporting corporate service providers with caution
3. Keep abreast with regulatory changes
4. Provide regular feedback to Chamber consultations
5. Be appreciative that the country is on a steep learning curve on good governance.

In his welcome address, Hon. Silvio Schembri, Minister of the Economy and Industry stated, “The Malta Business Registry is an important and ongoing guide for stakeholders.” He described the event as an opportunity for discussion for both The Chamber and MBR to better understand the changes and what is required of them. He stressed on the importance of ensuring that the information given is correct and timely, and understanding the obligations of all parties involved to further enhance collaboration.

The CEO and Registrar, Dr Geraldine Spiteri Lucas, said that the MBR’s mission is to provide businesses with peace of mind throughout all their undertakings. “Our portal is your tool and your feedback matters. In fact, we have introduced a simple tool where one could notify us in case of incorrect information, on which action will be taken,” she said, adding that amendments were presented and published following complaints put forwarded to MBR by directors.

Dr Marthese Portelli, CEO at The Chamber remarked, “The Malta Chamber is all for better regulation and full compliance without excessive bureaucracy and without disproportionate administrative burdens and costs.” During her intervention Dr Portelli also brought forward a number of recommendations, which included:

1. Ensuring that all desk officers are giving the same interpretation to guidelines, regulations and requirements
2. Upgrading IT infrastructure and MBR’s platform to be less taxing for the user and to shift manual processes online, thereby increasing efficiency and transparency
3. Seamless integration between Government agencies for the provision of standard documents and information, within the limits allowed by GDPR
4. Introducing a system of blacklisting corporate service providers that repeatedly show negligence or incompetence
5. Providing adequate lead time prior to the entry into force of new regulations.

Dr Portelli also insisted on a better level of communication amongst MBR, CSPs and company directors to mutually, whilst acknowledging the efforts being undertaken by MBR, improve efficacy.

The Malta Chamber launches Rediscover – A New Vision for the Tourism Industry in Malta

Today the Tourism Operators Business Section at The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry with the support of Seed, presented Rediscover, its vision for Malta’s tourism industry. President Ms Marisa Xuereb said, “The Malta Chamber recognises the vital importance of Tourism as a pillar of the Maltese Economy, and we believe that this document is the blueprint to strengthening and future-proofing this sector for decades to come.”

In his remarks, the Chair of the Tourism Business Section, Mr Alan Arrigo said, “We’ve placed sustainable growth in the epicentre of our Vision. One that is built on improving customer journey, encouraging authentic quality customer experiences and building on our capabilities to make Malta a destination of choice.”

The document is rooted in a detailed analysis of the hurdles faced by Malta and its tourism operators in this sector. This analysis is contextualised within broader international industry trends and is enriched by consultation with more than 29 industry stakeholders, leading to a series of recommendations and key performance indicators geared at revitalising the Maltese tourism sector in a post COVID-19 future.

In doing so, the document proposes its recommendations based on eight (8) key themes:

1. Branding & Marketing
2. Digital & Innovation
3. Accommodation
4. Sectoral Infrastructure
5. Culture & Identity
6. Governance & Institutions
7. Human Capital
8. Connectivity

Amongst its flagship recommendations, The Chamber is re-proposing lower VAT on all tourist services to 7%, unless the product or service being offered is already VAT exempt. Incremental income from VAT reduction should be diverted towards improvement in salaries.

This Vision proposes a new focus on unique and varied events which are true to the local identity, a proposal which forms part of a broader approach to strengthen the Maltese tourism brand as well as the specific marketing of destinations such as Gozo and Valletta in their own right.

Furthermore, The Chamber proposes carrying out a sectoral review to measure tourism operators’ digital readiness to identify all opportunities for digital transformation and include opportunities for funding.

The restructuring of current licensing regimes are to reflect new accommodation concepts and quality standards that match target clientele. The Chamber believes that hotel star classifications need to be revisited.

Moreover, The Chamber believes connectivity is key to ensuring that Malta remains accessible and therefore, advocates for enhanced route development, including pushing for our national airline to hold key city airports while low-cost airlines retain their foothold in regional airports.

CEO of The Malta Chamber Dr Marthese Portelli said, “With this Vision, The Malta Chamber believes Malta will solidify its place as a quality, year-round destination of the highest standard at the forefront of international industry trends.”


Malta Chamber facilitates a Q&A session for members with EU Commissioner Gabriel

The Malta Chamber members, together with other local businesses, had an exclusive opportunity to discuss concerns and ideas with EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel.

In her introductory remarks, Gabriel emphasised the potential that businesses have within the European Union, especially within the field of innovation and research. During the event, issues were raised including innovation, research, skills, funding and business opportunities.

Gabriel remarked that the role of innovation has changed recently, shifting from from technology to linking it’s solutions to operational sectors.

She also noted that the Commission is embarking on a process to combine EU funding programs to make them more accessible, a task which is challenging to execute.

Apart from this, she also noted that challenges are still being faced, primarily in increasing female entrepreneurship.

Following a Q&A session in which Chamber members were given the opportunity to raise their issues, the EU Commissioner pointed out most sensitive enablers which are crucial for innovation and research are Education and Finance.

Hence, the Commission intends to pursue joint Accademia – Business Road Maps amongst other initiatives. Gabriel showed concern in areas related to education as most youths are still not well equipped, especially in areas related to AI and STEM.

The initiative was led by Stefano Mallia, President of the Employers’ Group of the EESC, supported by four Employer organisations in Malta.

Atlas Insurance wraps up another successful Mental Health Awareness Month

This was the third year running that, for a whole month, the insurance firm engaged with all its stakeholders, including employees and clients, on the subject of mental health – which is at the heart of Atlas’s wellbeing programme. Throughout this period, a 30-day Mental Health Guide and tips, developed by ICAS, were shared by Atlas on its social media channels and amongst employees.

“Change & Transitional Leadership” was the theme of a webinar organised by Atlas for its clients and members of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

Atlas is spearheading the cross-sectoral Health and Wellness Committee within The Malta Chamber.

The webinar explored the change process and how managers can build their own resilience, and introduced the concept of GRIT and how this can be used to manage organisational transitions.

GRIT, which stands for “Guts, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity”, is a positive mind-set which helps leaders cultivate a team environment wherein people feel secure, valued, and empowered.

The webinar was highly interactive and was facilitated by Kim Mussmann, an ICAS Certified Results Coach, and introduced by Atlas Healthcare.

In addition, Atlas organised two engaging webinars, in collaboration with ICAS, for #TeamAtlas on mental health and wellbeing. “Coping with multiple demands” was the theme of a webinar held on 20 October for all Atlas staff.

Another webinar was organised specifically for the firm’s leaders, entitled “Managing teams through difficult times”, which was held earlier in the month. Both webinars were interactive, with employees actively discussing the topic of mental health and sharing experiences and insights in a positive environment.

“This past month has been an intense one, as planned. Our objective is to continue to raise awareness and remove the stigma associated with mental health,” said Catherine Calleja, Managing Director at Atlas Healthcare.

“By involving our internal and external stakeholders, we want to continue the discussion on this topic and ensure that wellbeing – both physical and mental – is top of our agenda. These initiatives give us all an opportunity to step back from day-to-day routine and reflect on this subject,” she said.

As the ability to organise safe face-to-face encounters became more possible, Atlas employees had the opportunity to meet in small groups for “wellbeing lunches” held in the company’s boardroom throughout October. These lunches were a great opportunity to reconnect and unwind with colleagues from different offices, after only being able to see each other virtually for a long period of time.

ICAS is a global 24/7 international Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), provided by Atlas Healthcare, which provides unlimited direct access to psychologists for employees and their families, as well as local face to face counselling, legal and financial helplines and support for HR and line managers.

Atlas Healthcare Insurance Agency Limited (C32603) is authorised under the Insurance Distribution Act to act as Enrolled Insurance Agents for Atlas Insurance PCC Limited. Both entities are regulated by the MFSA.

Incumbency threatens women’s ability to climb the corporate ladder

The following is an excerpt taken from a Malta Today article.

Elsewhere in decision-making, the power of incumbency threatens women’s ability to climb the corporate ladder.

Marisa Xuereb, the Chamber of Commerce president, said it was not uncommon for people to sit on the same company boards for decades, even if it is unhealthy for the organisation.

“Older men tend to hang onto company boards far longer than they stay in executive positions. Of course, experience has value at board level, but so does new blood,” she said.

Overall, Xuereb thinks workplaces are becoming more accommodating. The work from-home set-up has become more available for office workers in particular, making more jobs accessible for mothers with young children who need to be at home after school hours.

“I believe the shortage of human resources is pushing companies to become more flexible in their approach. It pays companies to accommodate capable women because talent is hard to come by.”

MBB Energy Project Wins Climate Award

The Malta Business Bureau’s Energy Ecosystem won the Engager Award at the first edition of the Malta Climate Action Awards held last week. These awards aim to recognize and celebrate the actions taken by local businesses, public and private organisations, groups and individuals in the fight against climate change across the Maltese Islands.

MBB’s bid focused on our efforts to help businesses improve the energy efficiency of their operations, cutting emissions and costs in the process.

This is mainly being achieved through technical workshops, awareness events, promotion of available financial support schemes, lobbying and collaborating with national government, and by conducting studies to further knowledge on key issues affecting industry. This ecosystem has managed to reach around 150 businesses in Malta.

These efforts are bearing fruit, with national statistics showing that while the gross value added of industry is increasing, their energy consumption is increasing at a slower rate. This indicates a decoupling between energy consumption and productivity.

Climate change action is becoming even more crucial each passing year.

This is particularly so for countries like Malta, an Island in the Mediterranean with already limited natural resources and a heavy reliance on foreign imports, including for food. Supply disruptions abroad will have a clear impact on prices and availability locally. Malta is also dependent on inbound tourism, which in turn relies on favourable weather and climate conditions.

These factors mean that increased climate ambition is necessary to ensure prosperity in the long term.

MBB CEO Joe Tanti said:

“we are proud to receive this award which recognises our hard work over several years in this important area. This achievement has been fostered through a collaborative approach with key stakeholders, such as relevant government agencies and businesses which show great enthusiasm to improve their efficiency. We are keen on continuing to build up this ecosystem and strengthen our collaborations.”

On his part, MBB Senior Executive for sustainability, Gabriel Cassar added, “over the last year the EU has significantly increased its climate ambitions and set harder targets on energy use and emission reductions. This will require a concerted effort from all actors to increase efficiency and source energy from cleaner solutions. For MBB, this is a constantly evolving area which we are strengthening through new projects and activities.”

Mr Tanti commended the great work put in by MBB Energy Advisor Geoffrey Saliba to enable this project’s success.

MBB went on to thank participating businesses for their collaboration, effort and success. Finally, they congratulated the other winners for their sterling work in helping push climate change action in Malta, and augurs all participants the best in their future endeavors.