Furniture Manufacturing Business Section newly formed within The Malta Chamber of Commerce

The newly formed Furniture Manufacturing Business Section within The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, has elected its Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is formed from cross-industry representatives from a variety of furniture manufacturing sectors.

The Malta Chamber Deputy President Chris Vassallo Cesareo, who spearheaded the establishment of this new Business Section said that “It is essential that this vital industry gets the representation that it deserves through the formation of this Business Section at The Malta Chamber.” He added that, “this Business Section and its Executive Committee will start to address the needs of the furniture manufacturing industry, an exercise which will require a holistic approach that must encompass education and training for the industry workforce.”

The newly elected Chairperson of the Furniture Manufacturing Business Section, Ms. Luana Falzon, spoke about the need to champion Maltese companies in this field. Ms Falzon said that, “I feel that Malta has a lot to offer in terms of its furniture manufacturing sector. I believe that part of our work as a committee must be showcasing the quality of the Maltese furniture manufacturing product as well as laying the foundations for this sector to continue to prosper.”

The Committee already started to set out its priorities. Amongst the first tasks the Committee will address is the dire shortage of workers joining the sector, a priority which goes hand in hand with the Committee’s drive to increase education and awareness on the nature of the jobs in this sector.

The full list of elected members comprising the Furniture Manufacturing Business Section Executive Committee can be found below: Ms. Luana Falzon Chair, Ms. Jennifer Xuereb Sammut Deputy Chair, Mr. Joseph Abela Member, Mr. Joseph Borg Member, Mr. Sebastian Degiorgio Member, Mr. Terence Delia Member.

Business hampered by draconian travel measures

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry is pleased to note that most remaining Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted, and businesses operating locally will be able to function normally. This will help the recovery at a time when there are other serious economic challenges to be dealt with. Yet some businesses remain severely hampered by what are now excessive travel restrictions.

On 22nd February 2022, the Council of the EU adopted an updated recommendation on non-essential travel from third countries into the EU. This new recommendation states that Member States should allow non-essential travel for persons vaccinated with an EU- or WHO-approved vaccine, recovered persons and all persons travelling from a country on the EU whitelist, while allowing for additional measures such as PCR testing before travel to be requested. It also upholds that reciprocity should continue to be taken into account on a case-by-case basis and indicates that it is appropriate to start moving to an approach that is based purely on the vaccination status of the traveller rather than on the country of origin. The Council recommendation is not legally binding, but most EU countries have adopted it. Yet Malta continues to uphold a long dark red list of third countries, and to apply draconian quarantines to arrivals from these countries even if travellers are vaccinated. This makes it impossible for business-related travel to and from third countries to resume and is placing local businesses who have contractual obligations or potential new business in third countries at a disadvantage compared to their EU counterparts.

Liz Barbaro Sant, Chairperson of TradeMalta which is a public-private partnership between The Malta Chamber and Government tasked with facilitating Maltese business in third countries expressed serious concern about the situation: “It sends the message that Malta is not open for business, and that Maltese businesses are reluctant to service their customers in these countries, which is not the case. On both a commercial as well as a diplomatic level, this has become unsustainable and is drying up the pipeline of international business prospects for Maltese businesses.”

The Malta Chamber therefore appeals to the local authorities to be more sensitive to the economic implications of a draconian approach to travel to and from third countries at this stage. Malta Chamber President Marisa Xuereb stated that “There are significant business interests in third countries that are being put at risk by quarantines that are incongruent with the approach being adopted locally. You are no longer required to quarantine if you have a positive case within your household, but you need to quarantine if you return from most third countries even if you are vaccinated. An urgent review of these rules is required to allow businesses to resume their international activities without further delay. The smallest country in the EU cannot be the slowest to take-off.”

Department of Contracts and Contracting Authorities need to ascertain Full Compliance of Bidders

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry must once again draw attention to the importance of vetting bidders properly in public procurement tendering processes for administrative compliance. This is an effective way of enforcing compliance and cleaning the market of rogue operators.

While the public procurement process provides legal remedies for competitors to challenge the adjudication process, they have very little visibility on the administrative and technical compliance of the other bidders. Similarly, courts are only able to decide on those matters on which competitors object and to base themselves on the evidence brought forward by the objector. The responsibility for ensuring full compliance, and more so administrative and technical compliance, lies squarely with the Department of Contracts and the Contracting Authorities. Both have the right to cancel tenders as well as their awards at any point in time (even if the recommended bidder has been decreed), when a tender has been awarded to a bidder who is not fully compliant on administrative, technical or financial requirements.

False declarations with regards to fiscal or financial status, non-payment of taxes, non-filing of financial statements or the filing of financial statements showing gravely insolvent positions, repeated reports of malpractice to consumer protection authorities, and the institution of criminal proceedings with serious accusation should all trigger alarm bells to blacklist operators and even suspend and withdraw running contracts if the gravity of the case warrants so.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry appeals to Government and all relevant authorities, particularly the Department of Contracts, to be truly sensitive to the extent to which the business community and the public in general have had enough of cowboys running roughshod over good governance and clean business, and expects the authorities to leave no stone unturned in convincing all those who are watching that this Government is really serious about its intentions to clean up and raise the bar. We urgently need to close the credibility gap.

Social partners discuss the Right to Disconnect based on a collaborative working culture

Last Friday, The Malta Chamber and the Malta Business Bureau organised a webinar discussing key topics from the EU autonomous framework agreement on digitalisation. The event was organised in association with the General Workers Union as part of the EU TransFormWork project, which is being funded by the EU Social Dialogue Programme. The social partners unanimously agreed that any movement on this subject should be based on a collaborative working culture between the employer and the employee.

During the event, Malta Business Bureau President Ms Alison Mizzi emphasised, “Digitalisation is changing the way we work. Being ever present at the office has become an option not a necessity
for several businesses. This opens the door for more flexible work arrangements but does not come without challenges, including stress from the excessive use of digital tools and the greyer delineation between work and private life. We must create more awareness, provide training and adopt proactive management practices that address these challenges.”

The Malta Chamber CEO Dr Marthese Portelli believes that on managing workloads, “It all boils down to mutual trust, synergy and collaboration between employers and employees. We need a
change in mindset on the workplace which is more output driven. Moving away from a 40-hour week, punch-in, punch-out, to a productive KPI system will lead to more clarity and more efficiency.”

The event saw the participation of the main cross-sectoral social partners in Malta. The employers were represented by The Malta Chamber, the Malta Employers Association, and The Malta Chamber of SMEs. The workers’ representatives were represented by the General Workers Union and UHM Voice of the Workers.

Other special guests were invited to share their expertise and experiences on specific topics, namely, Ms Mireille Pellegrini Petit from Thrive Positive who spoke on the psychological impact of excessive use of technology; Dr Lara Pace from Ganado Advocates who presented the legal parameters of surveillance at the workplace; and Mr Chris Busuttil Delbridge from Evolve who shared best practices on implementing positive cultures at the workplace.

The main outcomes of the discussion revolved around the need to promote more positive cultures in companies and implement proactive human resources policies that are centred on flexibility, respect, and trust, in the relationship between employers and employees alike. There was also agreement on the need of continuously creating awareness on the downside effects of excessive use of technology. 

It was agreed that performance monitoring tools could be used to ensure that there is a level playing field amongst all employees in terms of their output and job responsibilities. Company policies should clearly stipulate monitoring policies, which policies must be in full compliance with GDPR requirements.

Finally, and as a separate initiative, The Malta Chamber developed policy guidelines on the Right to Disconnect. The guidelines outline the responsibilities of employers and workers as well as promote recommendations on good management practices and a collaborative company culture. The purpose of the initiative was to create more awareness on the topic of modalities of connecting and disconnecting and encourage companies to incorporate internal policies on the subject matter.

More information on the EU project can be viewed from

‘We need to support ethical and forward-looking business’ – The Malta Chamber CEO Marthese Portelli

The Malta Chamber CEO Dr Marthese Portelli appealed to the newly elected Cabinet members to commit to and take bold decisions required in the national interest and that go beyond partisan interests – the country must step up. The statement took place during an exclusive meeting held at The Malta Chamber with several newly elected Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.

During her presentation, Dr Portelli outlined The Malta Chamber’s priorities for this legislature which will continue to focus on (i) Economic Recovery, Resilience and Growth, (ii) Good Governance, (iii) Human Capital and Education, (iv) Infrastructure and Digitalisation and (v) Sustainability. She identified the 5 key drivers for implementation as follows:
• National reforms
• Ease of doing business
• Competitiveness and support incentives
• Sustainability
• Growth sectors

Click here to download the full presentation.

The Malta Chamber CEO emphasised the importance of restoring our country’s reputation as this has a direct effect on Malta’s attractiveness and competitiveness and is a crucial requisite for ethical and forward-looking business. She also insisted on driving the country towards more investment in in quality driven sustainability and digitalisation efforts which render returns on investments.

Hili Ventures funds 10 tonnes of aid for Ukraine

Hili Ventures and its subsidiaries across Europe are supporting the humanitarian effort in Ukraine by extending financial support to charities working to help thousands of people in need at the border and on the ground. More than 10 tonnes of supplies and many hours of medical assistance have been delivered to internally displaced Ukrainians and refugees thanks to this international collaboration.

Headquartered in Malta, Hili Ventures is engaged in multi-sited operations in partnership with McDonald’s and Apple, logistics, marine & engineering, property, technology, oil & gas, hospitality and leasing in 10 countries, including Romania, Poland and Hungary, which border Ukraine. The group has mainly leveraged its close relationship with the Ronald McDonald House Charities which is liaising with other organisations to provide aid.

“A few days after the invasion of Ukraine began in February, we began to identify ways in which we could be most effective with support and assistance,” Hili Ventures Chief Executive Officer Melo Hili explains. “Our best channel to contribute practically and immediately to the relief effort with supplies, resources and assistance is undoubtedly the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Our McDonald’s operating companies in Latvia, Romania and Malta are founding mission partners of the RMHC chapters in these countries.”

In the last few days, RMHC Romania deployed a truck with 10 tonnes of sanitary products, essentials and disinfectant from Bucharest to the border. In co-ordination with RMHC Ukraine, the goods were collected by a logistics NGO which delivered them to a Red Cross depot at Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. The aid was distributed to around 10,000 people close to the epicentre of the attack on the country. Back in Romania, where refugees are crossing over consistently, the RMHC House in Timisoara is hosting families whose children are being treated at the Louis Turcanu Hospital.

RMHC Latvia, in co-ordination with the RMHC Chapters in Ukraine and Poland and RMHC Global, deployed its Care Mobile – a fully equipped mobile clinic – to Przemysl in Poland, the city receiving refugees from the Medyka-Shehyni border crossing point. A Polish medical team boarded after supplies were loaded and the vehicle made its way to Ukraine where it was handed over to RMHC Ukraine at the Mostyska train station in the Lviv region. Over four days, the Care Mobile visited nearby villages housing refugees and provided medical care to more than 100 patients, including babies and elderly people.
The Care Mobile then returned to the train station in Mostyska where people required urgent assistance having not received medical care for many days after fleeing the fighting.

Meanwhile, other Hili Ventures subsidiaries have organised smaller consignments of essentials, mobile device charging cables and accessories and have delivered them to organisations working with refugees in Poland and Hungary.

“We are distressed by the tragedy in Ukraine and the displacement of Ukrainians as they seek safety across Eastern Europe, a region that is so close to our hearts,” Hili Ventures Chairman Archie Bethel said. “While we have no commercial interests or staff in Ukraine, our thoughts are with the people of this independent nation. We hope for a peaceful resolution to this horrific crisis soon and pledge to continue to do what we can to help. There is so much more that we can and will do to stand with Ukraine.”

The Malta Chamber presents national priorities during meeting with Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry met with a number of Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries where it communicated the priorities for the economy of our country during this legislature.

This is the second time in this legislature that representatives from The Malta Chamber have met with the Government following a meeting with the Prime Minister a few days ago.

The Malta Chamber President, Marisa Xuereb, noted that the Chamber had no partisan interests, and considering the various economic sectors and diverse entrepreneurs it represented, it could not afford to be a single-issue lobbyist. In fact, she emphasised that over the past year alone, it had met with over 50 members of the diplomatic corps or representatives of international entities in a bid to improve Malta’s reputation abroad.

While re-presenting the document of recommendations, ‘Time to 5tep Up,’ President Xuereb said that the current problems the nation is facing must be addressed with urgency, and that the worse the Ukrainian conflict gets, the greater the economic, social, and political damage.

Highlighting one of The Malta Chamber’s main pillars, Xuereb said that the Chamber also called for good governance within business circles, urging everyone to pay their dues and abide by employment legislation. Xuereb said that practices which promote a culture of clientelism gives way for less transparency and inefficiency. She emphasized that there needs to be regular contact between the Chamber and the government to better help Maltese businesses, and a zero-tolerance policy for abuse from persons in political positions.

Regarding excessive development, she also called for respect for legal and regulatory frameworks and urged against taking advantage of loopholes. “We feel that there is a lack of political will at addressing excessive development. Developers do their utmost to stretch the limits of existing planning regulations,” she noted.

Xuereb addressed the price inflation which is primarily coming from importation and transport costs. “Transport is a substantial element in our consumption, production and exports, and we need to discuss it with more determination at European level. The Freeport also needs to continue to serve its strategic function which is likely to be undermined if cargo ship operators make purely commercial decisions that go beyond Malta on their routes,” Xuereb said.

Xuereb concluded her address by saying it was important to address the prejudice about Malta brought about by recent events. “The only way we can do this is by being more transparent with independent media and ensuring a more balanced public broadcaster,” she said.

KPMG in Malta appoints two Directors

Daniel Brincat

Daniel joined KPMG in 2010 as an audit team member following the successful completion of his Bachelor of Accountancy (Hons) degree at the University of Malta. Daniel is an accountant by profession, holding a Practising Certificate in Auditing and is also a Fellow Member of the Malta Institute of Accountants (MIA).

During the past 12 years, Daniel has also worked within the audit function of the Crown Dependencies and Canada offices gaining experience in a variety of industries, particularly Financial Services and Private Enterprise. Today, Daniel is predominantly focused on Private Enterprise clients, with a broad portfolio of local and international clients across various industries such as transport and leisure, software, consumer goods, retail and manufacturing. Daniel is also very active in delivering training internally and externally at KPMG, regularly contributing to staff’s professional education and
performance development.

Noel Fsadni

Noel joined KPMG in 1999 as an IT Administrator within the IT Operations team and is now leading the team that he joined more than 23 years ago. His career started in technically specialised areas, such as server infrastructure, networking, end user equipment, security, and document management. Noel has always aimed at offering high-quality services within the firm. His dedication, adaptability, and technological innovation helped him to evolve his career and pursue managerial roles that empowered him to undertake strategic responsibilities. He actively contributes to the
internal digital and technological transformation activities within the local firm.

During these years, Noel has also participated in several technology-based projects, both locally and within the international KPMG network. He is currently leading an IT Centre of Excellence and is representing Malta in the IT technical committee, within a KPMG subregion, that is made up of small island states.

HSBC Malta Foundation supports Żibel’s new Seabin

The HSBC Malta Foundation is supporting environmental non-governmental organisation (eNGO) Żibel with a donation of more than €5,000 to purchase and install a Seabin at the Manoel Island Marina. The Seabin will filter sea water and collect waste in a specific location where litter is known to accumulate.

The Seabin that HSBC Malta is sponsoring will be part of the Seabin Malta Project, which was started by Żibel and their partners Strand Marine in 2018. Seabins are generally placed in marinas, attached to piers or floating docks, where water easily flows through them, through which the bay will clean itself as currents circulate the surface debris. The top ten waste items filtered out by a Seabin are: foam/polystyrene residues, cigarettes, foil wrappers and packets, plastic fragments larger and smaller than 1cm, plastic bags and bottles, rope remnants, bottle caps, and paper.

Each Seabin can filter 25,000 litres of seawater per hour, or almost 220 million litres every year, and collect approximately 1.5 kilogrammes of floating debris a day, which equates to the weight of roughly 151 empty one-litre plastic bottles. Furthermore, a Seabin can collect microplastics as small as 2 mm. This unit joins an expanding network of Seabins around the island.

Simon Vaughan Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Bank Malta and Chair of the HSBC Malta Foundation, said: “In addition to cleaning the sea surface of debris and pollutants, a Seabin can collect waste that is otherwise difficult to collect due to its size and which presents a threat to marine life. The sponsorship of a Seabin is very much in line with HSBC Bank Malta’s commitment to facilitating the delivery of impactful solutions that both address environmental challenges and raise awareness on sustainability and the environment.”

Speaking about the Company’s collaboration with Żibel, MIDI CEO Mark Portelli said: “Following our recent sponsorship for the provision of berthing facilities for Żibel’s boat, we are proud to once again be collaborating with this eNGO to supply the right environment and services for the installation of a Seabin at the Manoel Island Marina. As the company which is responsible for the revitalisation of Manoel Island and Tigné Point, MIDI is extremely conscious of its environmental responsibilities and has always been at the forefront of supporting green initiatives.”

Andrew Schembri, Cofounder and Chairman of Żibel, said: “We have grown significantly since we founded Żibel in 2017. While our focus on a cleaner environment and sustainable lifestyle education remained intact, we have moved beyond simple cleanups. Today, we work on many projects, one of which is the Seabin Malta Project, which is able to expand thanks to generous corporate donations such as the one we are receiving from the HSBC Malta Foundation. Since the launch of the project we have strived to work with communities in-order to install as many units as possible.”