BOV Directors and Executives pay courtesy visit to the President of Malta

Bank of Valletta’s Chairman Dr Gordon Cordina, CEO Kenneth Farrugia, Directors and Executive Committee members paid a courtesy visit to H.E. Myriam Spiteri Debono at Sant’Anton Palace in Attard.

The first visit by the Bank since the appointment of H.E. Spiteri Debono as Head of State served as an occasion to renew and strengthen the ties between Bank of Valletta and the Office of the President, with which the Bank crosses paths on several occasions during the year thanks to a number of collaborative initiatives. Bank of Valletta is renowned for its support to The Malta Community Chest Fund through the L-Istrina BOV Piggy Bank Campaign which this year sees its 21st consecutive edition, as well as to various other initiatives undertaken in aid of L-Istrina which the Bank proudly supports.

During the visit, Dr Gordon Cordina stressed the important role that Bank of Valletta plays in the Maltese economy. “Considering the size of the Bank’s market share, and its direct relationship with the local economy, Bank of Valletta is considered to be of systemic importance, directly supervised by the European Central Bank, with onerous obligations and expectations from a regulatory perspective. This systemic relevance also places a significant responsibility upon us to support society at large and the various communities we serve, be them either personal or business. Fostering our ties with the Office of the President will also help us in being a truly responsible corporate citizen, as we align some of our activities with those of the Office of the President in helping transform Malta’s future.”

Corroborating the Chairman’s comments, Kenneth Farrugia highlighted the Bank’s commitment to society through its extensive Community Programme. “This year marks a significant milestone for BOV as we are celebrating 50 years since we first started serving customers. We are commemorating this anniversary in several ways, but one important aspect is through major CSR projects that we implement during the year. It is worth mentioning that the Bank has been acting as a responsible citizen since its foundation 50 years ago, and a true testament to this is our collaboration with the Malta Community Chest Fund with whom we have been working closely for decades. Last year alone, BOV helped raise over €53,000 from the L-Istrina BOV Piggy Bank Campaign, while collectively, through this campaign and other donations made by the Bank over the years, over €3 million were donated to L-Istrina. The invaluable work that the Office of the President carries out as part of its nationwide duties, fills us with the additional drive to serve our communities better, both through financial services and philanthropic activities that benefit society and those in need.”

Her Excellency Myriam Spiteri Debono welcomed the courtesy visit by the BOV’s CEO, the Chairman, the Directors the Executive Committee and the Corporate Social Responsibility team. The President extolled the ways in which Bank of Valletta, through its various services, seeks to be of service to the Maltese Society and underlined the fact that Bank of Valletta is one of the pillars of the Maltese economy.

During this visit, the President thanked the Bank for the continuous support it provides in aid of the Malta Community Chest Fund. “Through various activities and events throughout the year, like the L-Istrina BOV Piggy Bank Campaign, BOV continues to support initiatives to help those people who are in need of the services of the Malta Community Chest Fund.”

Kenneth Farrugia elected Chair of the Malta Bankers Association

Kenneth Farrugia Bank of Valletta p.l.c. CEO, has been elected Chair of the Malta Bankers’ Association (MBA) for the coming term of office i.e. 2024 – 2026. His appointment was announced following an election pursuant to the Association’s Annual General Meeting held on the 19th June 2024. Henry Schmeltzer MeDirect Bank (Malta) p.l.c. was re-elected Deputy Chair for the same period.

Outgoing Chair Marcel Cassar, CEO of APS Bank p.l.c. said that the Association agreed that Mr Farrugia’s extensive industry experience and long-standing presence on the MBA Board made him an ideal candidate to continue to steer the Association through these increasingly challenging and rapidly changing times.

On his part Mr Farrugia thanked Marcel Cassar for his support and stewardship of the MBA over the past years which he said have served to greatly increase the Association’s presence and outreach with its stakeholders. Moreover, Mr Farrugia whilst thanking the rest of the Association’s members for their support and confidence in him, confirmed that he is very glad to continue to work with Henry Schmeltzer, Director MeDirect Bank Malta p.l.c., in continuation of his role of the MBA’s Deputy Chair.

In his capacity as MBA Chair, Kenneth Farrugia will also represent the Association on the Board of the European Banking Federation (EBF), of which the MBA is a full member. The EBF unites 32 national banking associations in Europe that represent some 3,500 banks employing about 2.6 million people and extending over €23 trillion in lending to the European economy. It is actively engaged in advocacy and the support of policies that foster economic growth and jobs.

HSBC Malta supports Career Development at St Ignatius College Ħandaq Secondary School

HSBC Malta is proud to announce its partnership with St Ignatius College Ħandaq Secondary School in organising a series of mock job interviews in an initiative aimed at boosting the career readiness of Malta’s youth. This collaboration underscores HSBC’s commitment to fostering educational opportunities and professional preparedness amongst students.

The mock interview event took place in May and engaged Year 10 students in a practical learning environment where they could apply their interview skills in real-life scenarios. These sessions were designed to bridge the gap between educational achievements and real-world job market expectations, providing students with valuable feedback from seasoned professionals.

HSBC volunteers, including key members from various departments, shared their expertise, offering insights into the dynamics of job interviews and effective communication strategies. This initiative not only helped students gain confidence but also equipped them with essential skills required in today’s competitive job environment.

“HSBC is committed to investing in the future by supporting educational programs that cultivate the talents of young individuals. Our involvement with St Ignatius College is part of our broader strategy to enhance access to quality education and career development opportunities,” said Maria Boot, Risk Manager at HSBC Malta. She added, “We believe that by preparing students for the professional challenges ahead, we are contributing to a well-equipped future workforce, and ultimately, to the sustainable growth of our community.”

This event is one of several initiatives led by HSBC to support educational and professional development across Malta. By partnering with educational institutions like St Ignatius College, the bank hopes to make a lasting impact on the professional landscape of tomorrow.

“HSBC’s involvement in the mock interview initiative has been a truly enriching experience for our students,” remarked Ann Julene Hili, Principal Education Support Practitioner – Career Advisor at St. Ignatius College. “The professional guidance and real-world insights provided by HSBC volunteers have significantly enhanced our students’ readiness for the world of work. We are immensely grateful for this partnership and look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts to equip our students with the necessary skills for their future careers.”

Another Case Confirming the Critical Imminent Need for a Holistic Reform in Public Procurement

Reports published by the NAO, decisions handed down by the appeals board and court judgements are repeatedly confirming that our public procurement system is not functioning transparently and equitably, resulting in abuse, amateurism and irresponsible handling of public funds.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has been insisting on this reform since 2021 in its “Report on Public Procurement Reform” mapping out a comprehensive reform with over 40 recommendations for better governance.

Despite the fact that, since then, The Malta Chamber has persistently followed this up with Government, including various entities and departments, the Opposition and MCESD nothing tangible has been done. The problems persist. Breaches and abuses continue to happen because there is limited transparency, weak internal controls, inadequate checks and balances, as well as conflicts of interests. The current legal remedies are, at times, ineffectual and limited, as to what can be challenged and by who. While Government acknowledges the pertinence of the issues raised and the importance of addressing them effectively, no urgency or speed in implementing the required actions is being registered.

Some recommendations include:

• Mandatory advanced publication of the procurement outlook for the following 6 months

• Preliminary market consultation processes

• Engagement of truly independent experts in the drafting of procurement documents

• Make better use of the BPQR and MEAT systems as against cheapest compliance so as to ensure that government gets the best ROI on its investment

• Better scrutiny of all direct orders prior to their issue

• Setting up a publicly accessible and easy to use Contracts Register which includes all contracts, including direct orders, and which clearly highlights the specific milestones and deliverables reached by the contractor, the payments made (when and how much), any disputes that may have been registered, as well as all modifications and variations with accompanying detailed justifications.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry appeals to Government and all relevant authorities to be truly sensitive to the extent to which the business community and the public in general has 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.

All economic operators must be on the same level playing field when tendering for government purchasing opportunities and all procurement exercises must be accessible to all eligible economic operators, in the same way and free from impropriety.

Public procurement spending is tax payer money. Government has the duty and obligation to manage the spending of tax payer money correctly, ensuring value for money and avoiding extravagant spending which is of no beneficial value to the taxpayer. Public procurement has a direct impact on our quality of life – any well meaning politician would put the Public Procurement Reform as his/her prime focus.

The Malta Chamber Urges for a Holistic Approach to Planning and Development

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has expressed its concerns regarding the current piecemeal review process of Phase 2 of the Development Control Design Policy, Guidance and Standards 2015, as issued for public consultation by the Planning Authority.

In its submission to the public consultation process, The Malta Chamber stresses that fragmented reviews can lead to increased speculation, misinterpretation, misapplication, and potential abuse of both the new policies and those already in place. This fragmented approach risks perpetuating the current “pick-and-choose” policy framework, which undermines cohesive and effective planning.

The Malta Chamber reiterates its longstanding position that a holistic approach to planning is not optional but essential to the Maltese Islands. This call has been consistently highlighted in The Malta Chamber’s Pre-National Election Manifesto of March 2022, and reinforced in the Pre-Budget Documents for both 2023 and the current fiscal year. The Malta Chamber insists that the country must transition from sporadic policy development and amendments to comprehensive planning strategies that encompass all aspects of development.

Proper planning extends beyond building heights or floor numbers. Proper planning requires also taking into consideration the country’s aesthetics and infrastructure, particularly the impact on utilities, sewage, parking facilities, waste management, road networks, and traffic. A holistic approach must evaluate these elements in conjunction with the country’s carrying capacity, economic vision, and the overall quality of life for a well-being society.

The Malta Chamber urges the Government to swiftly address the following critical areas:

  1. Revision of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED): This revision should be based a thorough carrying capacity study to ensure a sustainable business environment and a well-being society. It must consider the built environment, natural environment, heritage, history, and the Maltese culture.
  2. Drafting of a National Architecture Policy, an Aesthetics Policy and a Landscape Policy: There is an urgent need for a National Architecture Policy, an Aesthetics Policy, and a Landscape Policy to foster cohesiveness and harmony in planning design, including skylines. Strict adherence to these policies is crucial.
  3. Future-Proofing Malta’s Building Stock: It is imperative to prepare the country’s building stock to withstand the impacts of climate change, ensuring resilience and sustainability.

The Malta Chamber strongly believes that persisting with sporadic policy amendments goes against the basic principle of sustainable development. A holistic approach to Malta’s development planning is indispensable for ensuring proper, ethical, and responsible governance.

Raphael Aloisio Appointed Malta Business Bureau President

Raphael Aloisio has been announced as the new President of the Malta Business Bureau.

Mr. Aloisio is a Certified Public Accountant and Auditor with a substantial career spanning over 43 years in public practice. He joined Deloitte in 1987 and was appointed as a partner in 1990. Mr. Aloisio retired from Deloitte in May 2023, after contributing to the firm for more than three decades, including a tenure of 21 years as the Advisory Leader. His work primarily focused on Corporate Finance and Funding, Transaction, and Business Advisory within the Tourism and Hospitality, Consumer Business, and Real Estate sectors. Mr. Aloisio is also a Fellow of both the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Malta Institute of Accountants. He served on the Council of the Malta Institute of Accountants for 16 years. On his appointment as new MBB President Mr. Aloisio commented, “As I step into the role of President at the MBB, I am ready to build upon the organisation’s past achievements and capitalize on new opportunities to bridge the gap between Maltese businesses and Europe.

The MBB serves as Malta’ business gateway to the EU, and our mission is to help shape future EU legislation that safeguards the competitiveness of our business community, while contributing positively towards Europe’s ambitious climate goals.” Mr. Aloisio emphasized that the organisation will continue to highlight the unique challenges faced by Malta as a small island state, particularly in comparison to our mainland European partners. These challenges include connectivity and additional transportation costs. “We will count on the support of our newly elected MEPs to ensure that Malta’s concerns are addressed at the highest levels,” he stated.

The MBB thanks Ms. Alison Mizzi who led the organisation for the past three years, for raising the profile of MBB and for bringing it closer to Maltese businesses. Furthermore, the MBB thanks outgoing Directors Mr. Malcolm Jones and Mr. Jean-Pierre Schembri for their support and input over the past term. The MBB Board for the 2024-2027 term is composed of: Mr. Raphael Aloisio (President), Mr. Sergio Vella (Vice President), Mr. Simon De Cesare, Mr. Brian Muscat, Dr. Marthese Portelli, Dr. Andrei Imbroll, and Mr. Philipp Seifert (Directors).

The Malta Business Bureau is the EU business advisory organisation of The Malta Chamber and The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. It is also a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.

The Malta Chamber active at the Eurochambres Congress 2024

A delegation from The Malta Chamber, led by President Chris Vassallo Cesareo participated at the Eurochambres General Assembly meeting held in the city of Antwerp on 12-14 June 2024. The exchanges analysed the impact that recent European Parliament elections will have on the EU’s economic outlook, particularly from the competitiveness perspective.

Eurochambres represents more than 20 million businesses through its members and a network of 1700 regional and local chambers across Europe. Mr Daniel Debono permanent delegate, and Ms Helga Mizzi, International Relations Advisor, accompanied The Malta Chamber President during the meeting.

The Malta Chamber President, Chris Vassallo Cesareo, was invited by the Eurochambres Congress held in Antwerp, to share best practices on ‘Sustainability for Business’. Details were shared on the process through which The Malta Chamber assists members in embarking on their step-by-step sustainability process.

President Vassallo Cesareo informed participants of the progress made in the areas of energy transition, climate change adaptation, waste conservation and water management. He particularly recalled that The Malta Chamber placed 2nd in the implementation of the EENeregy project. He thanked Gabby Grech Larsson (Policy Executive, Sustainability) for her outstanding efforts in this respect.

Furthermore, The Malta Chamber delegation had the occasion to participate in a Congress plenary session addressed by European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic which focused on EU competitiveness, the Green Deal and Digitalisation among other issues.

The Malta Chamber President, Chris Vassallo Cesareo, also participated in the Plenary Sessions of the Eurochambres Congress. Several issues of direct relevance to European businesses were raised, ranging from over-regulation, protectionist policies, energy reforms and support to SMEs looking at implementing their digital and green transitions.

The Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Luc Frieden addressed the Congress. He pointed out that the Eurochambres event was a very timely one as the EU embarks on a new political cycle which will need to address competitiveness in conjunction with social well-being and the ecological and digital transitions.

Bridging Business: The Role and Impact of the German Maltese Business Council


What is the broad role of the German Malta Business Council, its composition, and the desired outcomes?

The role of the German Maltese Business Council is to bring together members of the Chamber who either share an existing business relationship with Germany or who want to build one up. In the past, in particular with non-EU countries, this meant the very tangible role of building relationships and sharing knowledge to cover legislative and logistical gaps, which may have prevented business before.

In a time where Germany and Malta share half a dozen daily direct flight connections, established sea and air freight routes, and mutual membership in the EU, however, the value proposition must be different. Our aim as GMBC is to bridge perceived cultural gaps between our two countries and through this enable members to more effectively enter the market in Germany and further their activities more efficiently compared to someone who has not worked in the German market before.

Further, we see our own geographic location between Sicily to our North, and Libya/Tunisia to our south as key to bringing together companies in Northern Africa with partners from Germany, as business cultures and approaches can be vastly different and potentially detrimental when not correctly understood.

Lastly, we have set a clear goal to achieve a trade mission to Germany with a small group of interested and dedicated members at the end of our current mandate. The events which lead up to this goal are designed to not only bring those companies to the forefront, but to help to determine the most appropriate and interesting industry.

Describe your role as Chair of the Council.

The council brings together decades of experience, knowledge, and contacts from our various members, and applying this combination to achieve the most effective outcome in terms of our stated goals is what my role as chair primarily entails.

What is your assessment of the existing and emerging potential, sectors/areas etc?

In particular with the volatility and changes ongoing over the last 5 years, Malta presents many interesting options that bring stability in a variety of industries. Manufacturing, for example, has reshored production capabilities in Malta which previously came from the Far East and mean that both the access of German companies into Malta and the potential for Maltese businesses to enter the German market is significant.

A very unique opportunity which presents tremendous potential for Maltese companies is the impending crisis in Germany when it comes to a significant lack of succession plans in place with a growing number of SMEs. SMEs have always formed the significant backbone of the German economy, and various incentives and structures are being put in place to connect willing individuals and businesses to the companies which are looking for an alternative way forward for their future. Maltese businesses are very often born international and have internationalization as a core part of their identity due to the small size of the Maltese market, and this is far from the reality with many German SMEs.

How does the Council interact with The Malta Chamber, and what is the added value of this very close collaboration?

Since we form part of the Malta Chamber, members of the Council are members of the Chamber and this naturally means very close collaboration. While there are specific structures within which we have to operate, the Chamber enables us to access information, resources, and collaboration which we could not achieve by ourselves. When it comes to the hosting of events, communication, and data gathering for example, Chamber collaboration and resources are invaluable.

Would you recommend this framework to other TMC members interested in conducting business/trade/investment with other countries?

If the goal is to be effective, then of course. The country-specific councils are all made up of Chamber members who volunteer their time and occupy high-level positions in prominent organizations, meaning ongoing support is required for their effective function on an ongoing basis.

A note to our newly elected MEPs


Now that the European Parliament elections are over, our elected MEPs need to look and plan ahead in view of the upcoming legislature. Over the past two decades, Malta has carefully used EU membership to establish itself as an attractive jurisdiction for trade, industry and commerce within the Mediterranean and beyond. However, 20 years on, there is a clear need to refine Malta’s outlook to EU policy and legislative instruments, and adapt our approach to ensure maximum benefit. We need nimble and forward-looking thinking.

The EU implements approximately 200 laws annually with 80 per cent directly affecting local enterprises and residents. It is important that our elected MEPs stay close to home – this is the only way that they can ensure Malta’s interests are adequately represented at the European level. It is when we participate in a coordinated and knowledgeable way that our opinions are acknowledged more fully. Even with all our recent successes, we still need to improve our level of coordination. Malta’s lobbying operations need to address internal gaps and inefficiencies.

We need to better coordinate our efforts as a nation at the EU level – we would like to see all MEPs engage more with us and with all the other social partners, we would like to see all MEPs engage more with the Maltese working in various EU fora, we would like to see all MEPs engaging more with the employees working on policy in the EU institutions, as well as with government. Over the years, we have obtained various derogations and we have also managed to successfully maintain some of these positions. The upcoming legislature should be no exception. Our limited resources cannot be seen as an excuse to let down our guard. If anything, we should punch above our weight. We must seek to achieve better alignment and more effective mobilization of all our resources.

Our MEPs must keep pushing for concrete acknowledgement of our remoteness to ensure a level playing field among all member states – this is not about privilege, it is about principle. Ultimately it all depends on our ability to negotiate. The Single Market is vital for the EU’s competitiveness. However, 30 years on, the EU needs to reevaluate how it interprets and applies its laws in order to close the disparity and provide an equitable environment for all member states in terms of growth prospects. With respect to Malta, a real Single Market ought to tackle the problem of air and sea transport links in order to maintain a level playing field by lowering geographical and logistical barriers.

Our MEPs need to focus on streamlining policy and addressing double reporting. We need better and less regulation if we truly want to drive our competitiveness, both if we look at it from a national perspective and even if one looks it as a whole European block. Europe needs to delve deeper into the practicality of putting ambitious instruments into practice, a case in point being the European Green Deal and the Fit-For-55 Package. The European Union’s regulatory and administrative frameworks need to be designed in a way that are more responsive to business needs and which tangibly aim at success in driving Europe’s competitiveness, avoiding policies and frameworks that simply end up missing in action. While it is highly commendable that the European Union is on a mission to decarbonize, digitize and reindustrialize, there is the growing concern as to whether Europe is managing to stay competitive in the face of world-wide competition. Europe need to look at increasing its competitiveness, particularly given the strong determination and ambition of the other big economic blocks. Europe always was a catalyst for free trade and fair competition, but at the same time it needs to ensure that it remains competitive versus the other economic powers. Decisive measures are needed to raise Europe’s competitiveness in order to support higher levels of productivity, employment and prosperity.

We also require our MEPs to insist for the one-in-one-out principle to be put into practice in a way which removes red tape and minimizes bureaucratic burden. What is the one-in-one-out principle? It is an offsetting principle whereby when introducing new regulation with new burdens, an equivalent burden is withdrawn from other EU legislation in the same policy area.

Also, our MEPs should advocate for Impact Analyses and Territorial Proofing to be conducted on all new directives and regulations at both the Commission proposal and European Parliament stages to ensure competitiveness across all member States.

Energy is another aspect which merits attention. The European Union has to increasingly support its members in pushing for diversified and renewable resources as well as robust supply routes to provide secure, affordable and clean energy for EU citizens and businesses. There is also the urgent need to address education, skilling research and innovation, to meet the requirements and demands of the economy and society more broadly.

Through our 20 years of EU membership we have benefitted from the free movement of goods, the free movement of services, the free movement of capital and the free movement of persons. Being part of the Eurozone and the Schengen area resulted in trade, investment and tourism potential. Being in the Single Market gave Maltese businesses unhindered access to a market of over four hundred and forty million people and increased Malta’s economic opportunities globally and with third countries also through the ‘EU’ brand. The funds that Malta has been allocated were primarily invested in capital projects and social initiatives which, in their majority, contributed positively towards trying to attain a well-being economy. We saw infrastructural investments in education, health, culture, innovation and renewable energy, amongst others. Investments were also made in maritime and road infrastructure. Malta benefitted as well from funds allocated to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. We also saw our businesses raising their bar and introducing standards which meant better consumer satisfaction and more opportunities to internationalize. Accession to the European Union also served to attract foreign direct investment to Malta.

On top of all this, there are the clear political benefits of belonging to a family of values based on the observance of rule of law and democracy.

It is correct to look at our past, but more importantly we need to look ahead and think about what needs to be done. We need to aim high in order to celebrate our future.

This article was first featured on Malta CEOs on 16th June 2024.