Addressing Malta Chamber members, Labour Party leadership hopeful Mr Chris Fearne said that his main aim was to see the country in a better position across the board as he believed that Malta had the potential to move forward, for the benefit of present and future generations.
Mr Fearne was being interviewed by Mario Xuereb, during an event titled ‘Let’s talk Business’, organised by the Malta Chamber on Friday.
“The key for this success is to create employment, mostly through the private sector – if we do not have a vibrant, risk-taking private sector, we cannot create such a bright future for our country.”
While addressing members, Fearne said that businesses required a stable economy. “Long-term and sustainable Governmental decisions are crucial for this stability to take place”, he said.
While admitting that the past months had slowed down the country’s economic rhythm, Fearne insisted that no one was to be considered above the law and that he strongly believed that institutions needed to do their work independently without political interference.
He also said that creating institutional systems which would prevent political interference was one of his main aims as a prospective Prime Minister. Fearne said that such a step had already been taken through the creation of the States Advocate office and the separation of the functions of the office of the Attorney General, following advice from the Venice Commission.
Mr Fearne said that the Government could not do this alone and that it was a time for national unity. This would require the Government to work with all relevant stakeholders and representatives of the private sector as well. In addition, he said that, if elected, he would be meeting with the President of the European Commission to start talks on working together for possible solutions on a better future for the country, politically and economically.
Replying to concerns relating to the electricity supply, which was a topic of discussion in the past days, Mr Fearne said that repairs would be taking 2 to 3 months and all necessary actions were being taken to reduce power cuts as much as possible.
He added that discussions with the EU could also open possible solutions, such as the need to start seriously considering alternative means of energy. Mr Fearne added that the country needed to consider alternative means that would secure the required energy provisions while respecting the environment.
Asked whether Fearne as leader would adapt a pro-business or pro-labour approach, Mr Fearne commented that for the economy to continue growing, the country needed good academic levels ensuring the skills required for all workers, including manual labourers.
When asked on potential new sectors he stated that although he believed that the manufacturing sector would not be the biggest contributor to the economy, it still had an important contribution to make to the economy.
Mr Fearne said that, “It is good to invest in new areas of business but it is equally important to take care of the areas we already have. If new areas will be created, the country will certainly need to increase its knowledge base and offer technical and academic learning for foreign students as well.”
He commented that advancements in technology also offered further opportunities, especially when the country was at the forefront in regulating the sector, while areas of tourism and financial services were still important. Mr Fearne added that “It is time for Government to aid businesses and agencies to expand to foreign markets”.
When questioned about Malta’s favourable tax regime Fearne said that he recognised this was one of the key elements which attracted foreign investments and new sectors to the country. Yet he was in favour of making sure that the system was not abused.
Towards the end of the event, Mr Fearne accepted to receive a delegation from the Chamber next week, should he become Prime Minister, to be presented with a report, that proposed 65 concrete recommendations aimed at solving the country’s problems with good governance.
President Perit David Xuereb explained how among the proposals, the Chamber was calling for the appointment of a Minister for Good Governance. Such a member of the cabinet would ensure standards in public office, promote good governance and rule of law and implement the major reforms the country requires at present.
Dr Robert Abela was also invited to the event, however, he informed the Chamber late on Thursday that he would not be participating. The Chamber also offered to provide Dr Abela the opportunity to reply to the same questions via video, however such replies were not made available until the event had been concluded.