HSBC Bank's Fragile Planet report highlights need for urgent climate action

The HSBC Group’s seventh Fragile Planet report, which examined a sample of 77 countries, has found that, of the 20 countries experiencing the largest temperature increases over recent years, 19 are in Europe. The analysis by the Group’s HSBC Global Research arm has concluded that there is a need for urgent climate action.

The report investigated four aspects to understand which sampled countries are more resilient and vulnerable to rising climate risks. The report focused on transition risks (dependence ratio on carbon in the national economy of a country), physical risks (such as extreme weather events), governance (policies, institutional qualities, and financial strength), and green opportunities (potential to make profits on decarbonisation).

HSBC Bank’s Fragile Planet report emphasises that increased technological innovation, economic support and policy delivery are essential to achieve lasting cuts in carbon emissions. It is widely believed that countries and companies that take swift and radical actions have the potential to better protect society and communities, build resilience, and profit from a transition to low-carbon technology.

Michel Cordina, Executive Director and Head of Business Development and Corporate Sustainability of HSBC Bank Malta p.l.c., said: “Understanding the risks and opportunities that countries face can inform decisions by policymakers and investors of the actions that need to be taken to counter the current climate crisis. HSBC Bank Malta recognises that environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors, (which include climate change), can significantly impact individuals, businesses and communities and we are committed to accelerating the transition to a low-carbon global economy, mainly by supporting our customers in their net-zero journey.”

Read the full report in PDF format here.

20 Years of iGaming in Malta

On Tuesday, The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, in collaboration with WH Partners, Bronze Sponsors of The Malta Chamber, organised the event titled: 20 years of iGaming in Malta: Are we at a crossroad? The event was supported by GamingMalta Foundation.

Various local and international leaders and prominent players within the industry addressed the attendees including Silvio Schembri, Minister for Economy, European Funds and Lands and Pontus Lindwall, President and CEO of Betsson AB and Ivan Filletti, CEO of GamingMalta Foundation.

The event highlighted several opportunities and challenges that the iGaming industry faces through 5 panels:
1. Maltese licenses: evolution, utility and what to expect next over the next 20 years
2. Tax: Can Malta’s challenges be turned into opportunities?
3. Online gaming’s local domino effect
4. Online gaming spin-offs, new businesses and fueling digital entrepreneurship in Malta
5. Can regulatory & AML compliance become a competitive advantage?

A networking session followed. The coffee networking breaks were sponsored by Costa Coffee.

BNF Bank reports strong 2021 financial performance

BNF Bank announced a strong financial performance for 2021, registering a profit before tax of €9.1 million, up from €5.3 million in 2020.

Net operating income increased by €3 million from €24.2 million in 2020 to €27.2 million in 2021 and was a key contributor to improved profitability. A comparably lower increase of €1 million in operating expenses resulted in an improved cost-to-income ratio of 62.9% (2020: 66.5%).

The Bank also maintained its cautious provisioning stance and further increased credit provisions by €1.1 million in 2021.

Financial position

BNF Bank’s total assets grew by 11.5% in 2021, totalling €1,004.7 million. Total asset growth of €103.5 million was funded primarily by an increase in amounts owed to customers of €82.2 million, an increase in amounts owed to banks and other institutions of €15.9 million, and an increase in retained earnings of €5.4 million.

The largest and main income-producing asset portfolio in 2021 remained loans and advances to customers, which made up 79% of total assets. Loans and advances to customers comprised of net corporate lending of €300.3 million (2020: €276.6 million) and net retail lending amounting to €492.8 million (2020: €411.8 million).

BNF Bank’s liquidity position remained robust throughout 2021 and the Bank continued to operate diversified sources of funding. The Bank’s main source of funding remained retail and commercial deposits from the Maltese market, although the Bank also continued to strengthen its partnership with online deposit platforms to raise Euro and Pounds Sterling funding from German and UK retail depositors. The Bank’s Capital Adequacy Ratio at 31 December 2021 was 17.5% and the Common Equity Tier 1 Ratio 15.6%, both well above overall capital requirements and Pillar 2 guidance buffers.

Chief Financial Officer Mark Micallef said that key to the Bank’s performance was asset growth coupled with cautious provisioning and capital planning. “Our continued focus on serving our customers translated into another year of profitable growth for BNF Bank. In the background, to ensure that our growth is financially sustainable regular financial planning exercises are carried out to anticipate and withstand challenges that we might face.”

Michael Collis, the Bank’s CEO and Managing Director expressed his satisfaction at the Bank’s performance, saying that notwithstanding the challenging environment, the team achieved the Bank’s strategic objectives for the year, and returned a positive financial result. “We continued to work relentlessly towards our targets, driven by our long-term vision to take the Bank to the next level. Our intention is to continue working on the key pillars of our Vision 2023 strategy of financially sustainable growth, internationalisation, and technology transformation. Our core objective remains to keep our customers at the centre of everything we do, while providing a competitive suite of products delivered through an omnichannel approach.”

BNF Bank’s financial statements for 2021 are included in its Annual Report which can be found on the Bank’s website here link.

Efficient use of resources and comprehensive digitalisation of public services is imperative

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has taken note of several announcements made over the past few days that are worthy of attention because they may prove critical to how much our economy will manage to weather the present challenges.

Last week, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said that his ministry was conducting an exercise to try to cut costs against the backdrop of rising energy costs that Government has committed to subsidise in order to maintain energy price stability and mitigate systematic inflation.

Minister Caruana’s statement was followed by another crucial assertion made by the outgoing Principal Permanent Secretary Mr. Mario Cutajar. He said that cuts on government spending could impact public service employment and work processes, if the review finds that there is waste. While no detail was given as to how any such waste will be trimmed or reallocated more productively, the acknowledgement that there may be waste and that we cannot continue to finance it in the current circumstances is already a step in the right direction.

Yesterday cabinet has approved Mr. Tony Sultana as the new Principal Permanent Secretary. While The Malta Chamber, congratulate Mr Sultana for his appointment, his appointment is being seen as a commitment to implement the digital transformation of the public service that has been on the cards for several years. Malta was one of the first movers on eGovernment, but has been overtaken by many countries in recent years.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce believes that a comprehensive digital transformation of public services could address many of our operational weaknesses as a country. If done well, it will save businesses, citizens and Government a lot of time and money that is wasted on duplication of data inputting with various Government entities. It will also render the processes more transparent and less prone to manipulation and clientelism. It will ultimately improve the ease of doing business, strengthen governance and enforcement capabilities, and improve our attractiveness as a location for foreign investments. Hopefully, it will also help identify waste, and free excess human resources for more productive employment in the private sector, where labour shortages are hampering the recovery of several industries.

There are tough decisions to be made in the coming months, but it is imperative to make them. Given the current international scenario, delaying tough decisions further could backfire badly because energy prices are bound to remain high for a prolonged period and supply chain bottlenecks will not ease before the economic growth of large economies starts buckling under inflationary pressures. We have managed to contain a significant portion of the impact on the Maltese economy so far, but we should not be naïve to think that we can do so indefinitely. A judicious approach to public spending is warranted, and a smarter allocation of resources in both the public as well as the private sector is necessary to safeguard our competitiveness and mitigate long-term adverse effects of the current global challenges.

Labour Market Forecast and Future Skills Project supported by the HSBC Malta Foundation and The Malta Chamber

The importance of forecasting the future labour market and the skills required as the country transitions to a more digitalised economy is being led and examined by Dr Rose Marie Azzopardi, an Economist and Prof Alexiei Dingli, Artificial Intelligence expert. This Human Capital Research Project is being supported by The HSBC Malta Foundation and The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. The Project will focus on identifying the future skills required to ensure Malta’s continued competitiveness in the global economy and will examine sectors such as: banking and financial services; information technology and the communication, professional and technical services sectors.

Simon Vaughan Johnson, CEO at HSBC Bank Malta p.l.c., said: “Upskilling and reskilling people in today’s fast-changing labour market is key to maintaining Malta’s international competitiveness. The HSBC Malta Foundation is sponsoring the Human Capital Research Project as we believe its findings will be essential for the formulation of national policy in this area.”

Marisa Xuereb, President at The Malta Chamber, said: “In a post pandemic economic environment aiming to drive towards a more globalised digital economy, it is crucial to understand the needs that will be required, to ensure we invest in re-skilling and upskilling the workforce accordingly. Human Capital has always been one of Malta’s greatest resources and we are supporting this project because we believe in having an optimum workforce that can address future needs.”

Dr Clifton Grima, Minister for Education and Sport, said: “The Government is committed to continue to develop the country’s education that will enable our students to develop and fulfil their potential as we guide them towards becoming a workforce, ready for a global digital economy. To do this, we need this research for the Government to be guided and therefore equip the education system that will shape our workforce with the skills required to ensure success today and in the future.”



WE MAKE Project holds Academia-Industry energy research workshop

As part of the WE MAKE Project, the Malta Business Bureau, The Malta Chamber and Energy and Water Agency held a workshop aimed at promoting academia-industry research projects in energy and water for manufacturing SMEs.

The 2nd WE MAKE workshop, held on the 29th April, was attended by over 30 business representatives, with presentation from academia given by Dr. Ing. Emmanuel Francalanza Head of Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Malta, and Dr. Ing. Brian Azzopardi MCAST Senior Lecturer and Chair to the Foundation for Innovation and Research, the workshop highlighted recent and current academia-industry research projects. Importantly, the workshop outlined how businesses and academia can collaborate thematically, procedurally, and financially.

Academia-Industry collaboration options include employee placements in University courses, with thesis projects being R&D useful to the business, and larger projects funded through national or EU financial measures such as MCST funding, HORIZON or Interreg. Current projects were also presented, including projects researching data management, air compression leak controls, and smart grids.

During the workshop, Ing. Ch. Buttigieg Chief Policy Officer (Stakeholder Support) EWA mentioned their R&D financial measure “Support Scheme for Research and Innovation Projects in the Fields of Energy and Water” as a means of funding such collaborations. In the coming weeks the 3rd call of the Research and Innovation Projects in Energy and Water Grant Scheme will be launched. It will differ from previous calls in the effort to drive Academia and Private Enterprises in the Industry or Services sector to form Consortia and collaborate on Projects that are relevant and pertinent for the enterprise. Another new point for the updated scheme shall be the demonstrative aspect of the projects being sponsored in the 2022 Call, where after the conclusion of the 24 months project, one of the deliverables shall be an operational prototype/model of the project outcome in a relevant environment.

This workshop forms part of a set of workshops planned over the next year, focusing on technical opportunities within manufacturing businesses, business R&D projects, and workshops on financing of energy and water projects.

This forms part of a wider outreach towards manufacturing SMEs through the WE MAKE Project, which includes B2B networking, best practice dissemination, promoting innovation through projects, mentoring, and matching businesses to energy and water efficiency financing.

WE MAKE Project Manager Geoffrey Saliba said “Maltese academics are running very interesting R&D projects on energy and water, with results that are highly relevant for a modern industry. The keenness of academia to collaborate with industry and drive energy and water research further, coupled with existing financing options and a good industry base in Malta, creates an excellent environment for industry-academia research projects. We strongly encourage, and will actively enable, such collaborations.” Mr. Saliba concluded by calling on businesses to register their interest in industry-academia collaborations with the project partners.

Addressing attendees, Timothy Alden, The Malta Chamber Policy Executive, said “Tomorrow’s business is built on today’s R&D. The R&D opportunities which exist in Malta are attractive to businesses. We are prepared to guide businesses on identifying collaborative partners and tapping relevant R&D funding. Some of the project concepts businesses have presented us through the WE MAKE project are very exciting, and we will support turning ambitious concepts into results.”

Through the WE MAKE Project, the MBB and the Malta Chamber are offering networking support for interested businesses, and support in identifying and tapping funds for energy and water R&D industry-academia projects. Interested businesses are invited to contact the MBB or the Chamber via

The project partners thank Dr. Ing. Emmanuel Francalanza, Dr. Ing. Paul Refalo, and Dr. Ing. Brian Azzopardi, the University of Malta, MCAST and the Foundation for Innovation and Research for their contribution.

The Malta Chamber Presents National Priorities During Meeting With Leader of the Opposition and Opposition Spokespersons

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry met with the Leader of the Opposition Dr Bernard Grech together with Opposition Spokespersons to discuss the challenges and opportunities that exist within the various business sections.

Click here to download the full speech by President Xuereb.

Launch of Diploma in Joinery and Furniture making

In an event held at MCAST Paola, the Furniture Manufacturing Business Section launched a collaboration with MCAST and MG2I. Through this collaboration fifteen new students starting MCAST’s Diploma in Joinery and Furniture Making Course will be offered part-time employment and on the job training at seven furniture manufacturing companies. These companies, who form part of the membership of The Malta Chamber, will be receiving students at their factories from Wednesday to Friday each week, with students to attend lectures at MCAST in the first two days of the week.

“This collaboration illustrates what MCAST is all about. We want our students to work as they learn, and also to use work and real-life experience as an educational tool,” said MCAST Principal Profs Joachim James Calleja.

In her address to the new students The Malta Chamber President Marisa Xuereb emphasised the important impact that collaborations such as this could have in reviving industries. “Our manufacturing sector is facing severe shortages in trained workers, and this is also true in the furniture manufacturing industry. By partnering with educational institutions like MCAST The Malta Chamber is helping to address this shortage which is a primary concern for our members.”

The seven companies who will be taking on employees as part of this collaboration are Joinwell Ltd., Domestica Ltd., Shaker Ltd., Delia Woodworks Ltd., FX Borg Furniture Ltd., JDS Manufacturing Ltd. and Trends Manufacturing Ltd.


BCRS Malta Ltd hosts first of series of information sessions about Beverage Container Refund Scheme

BCRS Malta Ltd held its first in a series of information sessions about the upcoming Beverage Container Refund Scheme on Tuesday. The meeting which was attended by members of the business community hailing from the production, importation, distribution and retail segments of the beverages industry, was organised in collaboration with The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and was intended to explain in detail how the scheme will function.

Welcoming guests to the session, BCRS Malta Ltd chairperson Mr Pierre Fava said that the upcoming Beverage Container Refund Scheme in Malta will be a significant milestone in what has been an important and challenging journey so far. He said that the Beverage Container Refund Scheme would radically change the way single-use beverage containers were disposed of, once and for all.

“This will revolutionise the way we think of plastic, aluminium and glass containers. This is going to be a project that we will be proud to have undertaken together, and which our children will thank us for” Mr Fava said.

BCRS Malta Ltd, a 100% private non-government company, is the licensed operator for Malta’s Beverage Container Refund Scheme. The company is fully focused on implementing a technologically driven scheme based on international best practices and to date €17.2 million of private investment has been committed by way of capital investments to create the necessary infrastructure to run the scheme.

Aiming to collect and recycle up to 90% of all single-use beverage containers by 2026, Mr Fava called BCRS Malta Ltd a historic collaboration. “I am proud to chair this group of stakeholders in the beverage industry who have come together to do something which would be beneficial to the country’s environmental targets and well-being. We are fully aware that this will likely require a culture change from most of us, but we believe we can all make it together” he concluded.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry President Ms Marisa Xuereb said “The private sector has a key role to play in undertaking investments that provide for a greener, more sustainable economy. Government policies and the absorption of EU funds targeted at attaining sustainability objectives need to facilitate and promote private sector investment in such infrastructure, across all waste streams. The extent to which we will succeed as a country in developing a viable circular economy depends greatly on the efficiency and effectiveness of waste collection schemes, and on our ability to channel waste streams to economically feasible activities that can be harnessed by the private sector.”

While providing a detailed presentation of how the scheme will function, BCRS Malta Ltd Chief Executive Officer Ing. Edward Chetcuti said that this was based on international best practices from similar schemes which were operational in several other European countries. He then proceeded to explain how the system would make use of 331 Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) to collect beverage containers in bottles and cans made of PET, aluminium and glass containing water, soft drinks, beer, ciders and flavoured beverages but excluding wines, spirits, juices and dairy products which would not be collected by the scheme.

All collected containers will then be taken to the BCRS purposely built Hal Far plant, where they will be sorted according to material type and packed efficiently to be exported for onward recycling. The IT system which would support the scheme, would regulate the collection and separation of returned containers through the latest Internet of Things technology creating an intelligent network that would govern the system automatically. An interactive map with the locations of the various RVMs spread across Malta and Gozo would be available online and would facilitate the customer interface.

Mr Franco Schembri, Chief Officer, Operations from Circular Economy Malta, said “As the national regulator of the beverage container refund scheme, CEMalta appeals to the economic operators of the beverage industry to regularise their operations by registering themselves and, in the case of Producers and Importers, their respective products with the Scheme. It is imperative that all economic operators understand that it is in the interest of all to make this Scheme a success story in protection of the environment”

A question and answer session moderated by Ms Rachel Attard, Media and Communication Strategist from The Malta Chamber then followed.