Over 250 tangible proposals to address Malta’s most pressing issues
Budget 2024 gives us the opportunity to address a number of pressing issues that have been left ineffectively tackled over a number of years. It needs to focus on shifting our current economic model to one which translates into a well-being economy. Our bottom-line GDP will only continue to grow if there is a clear strategy that addresses what is increasingly meaning more to people and to sustainable business models. Otherwise, we will eventually be outpaced by our competitors on all fronts.
We need to incentivise a shift away from labour-intensive activities towards an economic model which is not dependent on increasing the population. The tendency to depend on utilising inexpensive labour needs to be curbed. The present economic model requiring the importation of an additional 20,000 workers annually is unsustainable and is pushing the country’s infrastructure to breaking point. The country needs is a higher calibre of skilled workers coupled with increased investment in technology.
Our country’s productivity level merits analysis within the above context. To enhance our country’s productivity it is crucial to invest in the necessary training and upskilling of workers. Embracing technology for task automation can also significantly contribute to achieving this.
Bold, yet right decisions, need to be taken to address pressing issues such as the traffic situation, the utilities’ infrastructure, the shabbiness, the lack of proper waste management, planning policy abuse and over-construction, tragedies at workplaces, enforcement, proper governance, transparency and accountability. These factors contribute to an erosion in the quality of life of people and make the country unattractive for high quality investors and visitors alike.
We need measures to address these priority areas without further delay:
- Traffic Congestion: Tangible measures to reduce traffic congestion, such as attaching car license fees to usage, introducing parking fees in central urban areas with fees paid being transferred into an e-mobility wallet for use of sustainable means of transport, and restricting certain congesting activities during peak hours.
- Utilities: Necessary investment to ensure an adequate electricity supply and a stable distribution network, adequate water supply and sewage systems that meet the demand.
- Upkeep of Public Areas: Systematic, well-organised and regular proper maintenance and cleansing of public areas.
- Proper enforcement of laws and regulations: Proactive, co-ordinated and unselective enforcement at all levels.
- Low-income earners: Targeted assistance to be addressed to those that need it, rather than distributing handouts to those that do not.
- Subsidies: Subsidies to be directed to businesses that are economically viable and that are investing in energy efficient solutions.
- Employment – Incentives to shift away from labour-intensive activities to more value-added streams to increase the quality of our offering and put less stress on our infrastructure caused by unsustainable population levels.
This document should be read in the context of The Malta Chamber’s Pre-Budget Document 2023 published in August 2022 and The Malta Chamber pre-election document ‘Time to Step Up’ published in February 2022.