Addressing the fifth Annual General Assembly of the Malta Maritime Forum, Chairman Dr Joe Borg referred to the organisation’s quest for continuous improvement and dynamism and with this, the need to periodically review the stated Objectives of the Forum as in its Statute. “A period of five years since inception, was deemed opportune to take time and think about the period ahead after the successes achieved in the first five-year inception period,” declared Dr Borg.
After a brief presentation on the rationale behind the proposal by Dr Ann Fenech, members unanimously approved the amended list of Objectives by means of which the Forum aspires to serve as the leading Maritime Cluster of the Maltese Islands that serves, represents and promotes the interests of the entire Maltese Maritime sector. In so doing, the Forum pledges to engage with the Maritime Industry and provide its players a “home” where they can be heard and where their issues will be taken up collectively and collegially on their behalf. Dr Fenech added that ““In this way, the Forum shall act as the flag-bearer for the entire Maritime Industry, assist in dealing with issues effecting all stake holders in the industry whilst creating a constant awareness both locally and internationally of the vast array of maritime services available in the country emphasizing the value which the maritime industry brings to the economy.”
During the same meeting, newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Mr Kevin J. Borg presented his Business Plan for the Forum for the forthcoming three years. Mr Borg explained that the Plan builds on the inherent strengths of the Forum, in particular the wealth of knowledge and expertise held by its members which constitute the country’s major players and stakeholders in the maritime industry. He said that it was his plan to organise the Forum on three fronts, namely better value to members through strengthened engagement, (b) enhancing relevance and clout and (c) ensuring stable finances to sustain long-term growth.
This year’s General Assembly was further addressed by the two keynote speakers of direct relevance to the maritime industry, namely Mr Joe Bugeja, the Chairman and CEO of Transport Malta and Mr Kenneth Farrugia, Chief Business Development Officer (Investment Services) of Bank of Valletta - the Forum’s key Collaborating Partner.
The highlight of the General Assembly was represented by the Chairman’s Address in which Dr Borg insisted on the respect of all rights, whatever their source or origin, and irrespective of whether they arose from existing legislation, or from any agreement entered into between the State or State Agency and a particular operator or group of operators, or from any legitimate undertaking or practice. For this reason and in line with the new Objectives and Business Plan, he said it was imperative that the Forum’s relationship with the authorities and relevant stakeholders are continuously strengthened.
Referring to climate change issues and environmental compliance in particular, Dr Borg said that sustainable development and business competitiveness can and must live side by side. He appealed to business, governments and regional economic blocs to “work in unison to ensure that certain short-term costs can be neutralised until long-term benefits can be realised to provide a win-win situation for business and the attainment of climate change objectives”. At the same time, he said, countries and economic blocs must work in parallel to ensure that no “beggar thy neighbour” instances are created along the way, giving operators an unfair advantage if they operate from regions which lag behind in active sustainable policies. He appealed to European leaders to take the lead at a global level and drive the rest of the world to a higher bar in terms of standards of environmental protection. “There must be a race to the top and a fair level playing field rather than a waiting game for the other to take the first bold step which – if taken unilaterally - will bring about short-term costs to its operators” he said.
Dr Borg also encouraged authorities to bolster investment with immediate effect in the area of waterborne transport which promises cleaner solutions for transporting people and goods from one place to another whilst at the same time reducing road traffic congestion.
At the close of his speech, Dr Joe Borg announced to fellow members that he would be retiring from the post of Chairman and Board member of the Malta Maritime Forum once a new Chairman takes over. He described his five-year experience in his position as the first ever Chairman of the Forum as very fruitful and personally enriching, saying he would cherish and treasure it forever. He appealed to his fellow Board members to continue to work towards countering the negative perception that very often clouds the maritime industry by portraying an attractive and positive image of all the benefits it offers to the economy in terms of investment, employment and by way of environmental sustainability.