In its pre-electoral proposals document presented to country’s political leaders, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry called for a future Government to appoint a dedicated Parliamentary Secretary for Research and Development within the Ministry for Industry or the Economy.
In the past R&D had been combined with completely unrelated subjects, being placed on the back burner of priorities. This crucial aspect of economic growth, in a valued added economy like Malta’s, required the full and undivided attention of Government.
The Chamber made its recommendations to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition ahead of the 3rd June General election in a document titled “Policy Proposals for a Competitiveness-centred Electoral Manifesto”. In all, the document proposes 71 concrete deliverables split in to 12 chapters, each tackling an important aspect of Malta’s economy.
On the same subject of R&D, the Malta Chamber called on Government to set up a Business Research and Innovation Body. The Malta Chamber reaffirmed its firm belief that R&D is one of the foremost pillars upon which the country’s sustainable economic growth rests, as this can provide Malta with a much-needed competitive edge over competing neighbouring regions.
“The availability of a proper and sustainable infrastructure in research and innovation (R&I) will provide Maltese industry with a better chance of building and retaining a more resilient and competitive position based on expertise and quality, assets that are less readily available in competing regions. Such assets are a pre-requisite for investment attractiveness in any industry or sector” the document said.
In its proposals to the political parties, the Malta Chamber said that the concept of ‘living labs’ should be amply encouraged. The Malta Chamber also called for a number of funding programmes amongst which to promote seed funding for innovative projects and related to the commercialisation of projects after proof of concept.
Access to Finance
Meanwhile the Malta Chamber called for the expedited establishment of a Development Bank to carry out non-commercial activities that facilitate access to finance for SMEs and support infrastructure investment. The Malta Chamber had proposed the setting up of such an institution for a number of years, most notably during the pre-budget consultation process of the last four years.
The Malta Chamber also proposed an enhanced level of communication between government entities, business and the banking community as well as the development of alternatives for non-bankable business ventures.
“It is imperative that the Development Bank is operational in a reasonable time frame before several opportunities existing at present, as well as the current willingness to invest, are lost” the pre-electoral proposals document said.
With regards to the Gozitan Economy, the Malta Chamber said that those willing to invest in Gozo should be provided with incentives.
“With adequate incentives, particular industries and sectors that are not restricted by the geographical characteristics will be willing to relocate to Gozo. This, in turn, will serve to build towards a population critical mass necessary to continue to attract people and investment to Gozo” the Malta Chamber said.
Download the document here.