BOV supports landmark Puttinu Cares London apartment project

It’s the big 50 for Bank of Valletta, an important milestone in the Bank’s history, which is being celebrated throughout the year with various activities and events for the Bank’s customers and major stakeholders. In order to sustain the Bank’s longstanding endeavours to give back to the community it operates in, particularly the vulnerable members of our society, the Bank has entered into another yet major collaboration, this time with Puttinu Cares Foundation. Through this community project, the Bank will be supporting the Puttinu Cares Foundation in furnishing a brand-new apartment in London. This project follows on another collaboration recently announced with Caritas Malta, where BOV is supporting the kitchen renovation project of the men’s quarters in San Blas.

To launch this latest project, the Bank’s CEO Kenneth Farrugia, Chief Operations Officer Ernest Agius and Chief Personal and Wealth Officer Simon Azzopardi, made a courtesy visit to Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre, where they were greeted by Puttinu Cares President Angele Cuschieri and CEO Rennie Zerafa. The Bank’s representatives were given an overview of the renovation project and were presented with the site plans of the newly purchased apartments in London. The London project, which will be receiving much-needed financing from the Bank, entails sponsorship of the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. This support will surely help Puttinu to continue enhancing the invaluable assistance to Maltese citizens seeking medical treatment abroad.

Commenting on this collaboration, BOV CEO Kenneth Farrugia highlighted the positive impact that this project will have on patients and their accompanying relatives during the most difficult time of their lives. “In its decades-long history, Bank of Valletta has always strived to be an active and responsible corporate citizen. We continue with this effort even more so during this year as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary. We are currently embarking on a number of collaborations that will have long-term positive impact on different local communities for years and generations to come. The invaluable work done by the Puttinu Cares Foundation, and their dedication and support to families in need is commendable and we are indeed proud to be here today, offering a helping hand to those in need through this ambitious project.”

Speaking on behalf of Puttinu Cares Foundation, President Angele Cuschieri thanked Bank of Valletta for its continuous support along the years. “BOV is like a lifelong partner to Puttinu, having supported us with preferential loan terms when we were seeking financing options to purchase these apartments in London. The Bank supported us in our fundraising marathons on Good Friday. This project is probably the largest we have undertaken so far, and the support we are receiving is encouraging us and helping to bring the project to completion.”

Puttinu Cares Foundation is currently finishing off a total of 27 new apartments in London which will serve to keep on helping patients and their families seeking Cancer treatment in the UK. There are currently around 60 to 90 patients undergoing medical treatment and seeking shelter in London thanks to Puttinu Cares. The duration of their stay varies from days to months and some even for years.

The Malta Chamber at the BusinessEurope Council of Presidents Meeting 

The Malta Chamber President, Chris Vassallo Cesareo, participated at the BusinessEurope Council of Presidents meeting held in Budapest on 27-28 June.

Discussions centred around the improvement of competitiveness of European businesses and the risks of de-industrialisation in the European Union. Mr Enrico Letta, President of the Jacques Delors Institute shared his views and way ahead on his recent report on the future of the Single Market, stating also that those delegations present at the meeting, have a leading role in bringing EU institutions closer to entrepreneurs. Heads of delegations had the opportunity to call on the H.E. Tamás Sulyok, President of Hungary.

A meeting was also held with the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce, to discuss issues and challenges that are being encountered by European businesses. The two sides also discussed the lines of the assistance that the Chambers can give to their members interested in investing in each other’s countries.

The Malta Chamber delegation visited a Saint James Hospital branch and Corinthia Hotel in Budapest with President Vassallo Cesareo welcoming these success stories as examples of Maltese business excellence on the international level.

Addressing Europe’s Labour and Skills Shortages


For several years, Europe has been facing a labour and skills shortage crisis that created challenges to businesses for productivity and growth. This did not happen overnight, but it is the result of several converging factors that have accumulated over years.

Firstly, the continent’s demographic landscape is characterised by an aging population combined with declining birth rates, leading to a shrinking workforce unable to fill labour demand, pacing Europe towards a 10% decline in the working age-population by 2050. Moreover, economic recovery post-Covidl9 has been uneven across regions, creating labour mismatches with skills required in certain places while no longer needed in others, particularly in areas where there is systemic underinvestment. It has also led certain senior workers to early retirement due to health concerns or left others idle due to an accelerated industry shifts to digitalization. Moreover, there are sector specific shortages, such as in the IT industry, with the Commission estimating a shortfall of 500,000 professionals.

Additionally, it has become a growing challenge for educational institutions to keep up with the rapid changes in the labour market and to forecast the needs of the future, resulting in skills mismatches that leaves many youths entering the workforce lacking necessary competencies.

To address these criticat issues, the EU has proposed a series of initiatives, with the intention of not only mitigating existint gaps, but also to establish a foundation for a more resilient labour market. These initiatives are also designed to engape various sectors and demographics comprehensively, while adopting a horizontal and comprehensive strategy for the coming years to reach the EU objectives of an employment rate of at least 78%, and to have at least ó0% of adults attending training courses every year by 2060.

These needs are highlighted within the EU initiatives, starting off with the ‘Labour and Skills Shortages Action Plan’, which adopts a comprehensive approach to tackle the labour shortage crisis, and promotes the participation of under-represented groups in the labour market, such as seniors, persons with disabilities, etc. To facilitate skills development, the plan designates an investment of €ó5 billion in training and education. It also aims to improve working conditions in specific sectors and enhance intra-EU mobility for workers and learners. Additionally, the plan focuses on attracting talent from outside the EU through talent partnerships and the establishment of the EU Talent Pool. Further initiatives promote learning mobility opportunities across the EU and support the digitalization of social security coordination to secure workers’ riphts across borders.

Another initiative is looking to refine the framework governing traineeships in the EU. A directive has been proposed aimed at improving and enforcing working conditions for trainees and combat disguised employment relationships. This will be enforced through regular inspections and by ensuring employer transparency, which involves requesting detailed information about traineeships and establishing thresholds for their duration and repetition. Additionally, trainees must also receive fair working conditions and compensation comparable to regular employees, justified by specific factors like tasks and responsibilities.

The current 2014 Ouality Framework for Traineeships is then beinp revised to make traineeships fairer and more inclusive. This promotes fair remuneration, social protection, and mentorship support to enhance the value of traineeships, by reducing exploitation, ease the transition from education to the labour market, and address issues of quality and equal treatment comprehensively.

On the other hand, an EU Talent Pool is beinp introduced in the form of an innovative online platform designed to match third-country nationals with EU employers where a matchmaking process for both employers and job seekers targeting sectors where the shortages are most severe will be expedited. In parallel, the EU seeks to develop talent partnerships with countries that have established labour-migration channels, such as Egypt, Morocco, and Bangladesh. This forward-thinking approach aims to streamline the integration of global talent into the EU labour market, addressing immediate needs while fostering long-term economic relationships.

While these initiatives aim to address some immediate challenges, one must caution against an over-reliance on third-country nationals could lead to the marginalisation of domestic job seekers and a neglect of domestic talent produced by local educational systems, that are crucial for long-term sustainability. The success of these robust initiatives depends on effective implementation and the active engagement of all stakeholders, including governments, employers and workers representatives, and educational institutions. These measures require substantial funding, clear policies, broad acceptance across the labour market, and effective promotion to ensure accessibility.

In the Maltese context, these EU initiatives offer significant benefits, particularly in alleviating critical workforce shortages that is experienced across all sectors. Improving the quality of traineeships through proper mentorship and aligned to educational outputs as well as market needs could better equip youths with the necessary skills to prepare the ‘workforce of the future’ for Malta. Additionally, the EU Talent Pool initiative could help Malta attract skilled workers in growing sectors like gaming, finance, and tech, addressing surging demands.

In conclusion, while the EU’s initiatives mark a significant step towards addressing labour and skills shortages, their ultimate success will depend on practical execution, continuous evaluation, and adaptations to meet real-world demands and evolving conditions. Addressing this crisis effectively requires a holistic, adaptable strategy that considers both immediate and long-term needs.

This article was first published on The Malta Business Weekly on the 27th June, 2024.

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.