The Malta Chamber noted the 2019 Country Specific Recommendations for Malta, published by the European Commission on 5th June, as it observed how these echoed the Chamber’s opinions in several areas.
The Chamber notes that some of the recommendations made by the European Commission reflect proposals made by the Chamber to Government over the years. Not least, these include the importance of ensuring fiscal sustainability.
The Commission reports that Malta’s fiscal sustainability could be threatened in the long-term by the increase in age related spending in the pensions and healthcare systems. The Malta Chamber has for the past years advocated a review of both these crucial systems and made suggestions in this regard especially in terms of incentivising further voluntary occupational pensions systems, reign in early retirement schemes and incentivise further active ageing.
Further to this, in the last years’ pre-budget recommendations, the Malta Chamber advocated the need for an efficient, fair and sustainable healthcare system. The needed reform has been unnecessarily delayed by political factors that have led to an inadequate and unaffordable system mired by wastage, particularly in the Pharmacy of Your Choice (POYC) system.
The Commission also speaks of the importance for Malta to tackle aggressive tax planning. The Chamber reiterates its position in favour of Malta’s fundamental right to defend its taxation system, stating that while it is a strong believer in the European project, it believes a ‘one-size-fits-all’ principle cannot be applied. Malta’s fiscal policy is not simply a way of collecting revenue but a tool to attract investment, stimulate growth and overcome its disadvantages of smallness and peripherality. The Malts Chamber hence calls on all political actors to pull the same rope on this issue in the interest of the country’s long term economic well-being.
In relation to Governance, the Chamber believes that steps have been undertaken by this administration but more effort can be done. In its pre-electoral manifesto of 2017, the Chamber had made it clear that the country needs to operate in a scenario where checks and balances function properly, the rule of law reigns supreme and everyone plays on a level playing field.
Last but surely not least the Commission spoke of the need for the country to focus its investment -related economic policy towards Research and Innovation, and more sustainable resource-efficient economy.
The Chamber has advocated this new direction for many years and has in the past suggested the need to shift the country’s economy towards more higher value added not least by investing our proceeds from the Individual Investment Programme (IIP) and surplus towards sustainable transport management systems, R&D investment but also the expansion of the a green and sustainable economy and increase investment in future proofing our educational system especially in the STEM related skills.