The Following is the address given by President Marisa Xuereb at The Malta Chamber 2022 AGM.
Members of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry,
The true and vibrant voice of the Maltese business community that will celebrate 175 years of solid representation in a year’s time.
Welcome to the Main Hall of The Malta Chamber, which has just completed the first phase of its refurbishment. The paint is still fresh, the original parquet flooring newly polished, and one of the most important collections of portraits in Valletta is back in its place, adorning the walls of this hall of priceless historical value. The subjects of these portraits are gentlemen who have given a huge contribution to the development of business in Malta – and the country as a whole – over the past 175 years. The role of The Malta Chamber, il-Kamra tal-Kummerc, the only business organisation established by the Commercial Code of Malta is as important today as it was throughout these years. Times change, new challenges present themselves, but this organisation remains extremely relevant, also because it stays ahead of the times. That is why the gender composition of the table in front of you is very different from that of the walls surrounding us. We are also proud of this, proud of the fact that The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry is today the most gender diverse organisations sitting around the MCESD table. The loyalty and pride of the most senior of our respectable members is today matched by the energy and enthusiasm of our younger members – the entrepreneurs that are shaping our country’s future.
The Malta Chamber today is the business community’s interlocutor with all Governmental authorities, with all political parties, with all resident and non-resident embassies, with all academic institutions, and with all media houses. We are attracting some of the best talent in business, policymaking and communications. And when they start working with us, they flourish because there is real fire in this organisation. Businesses that want to make a real difference in this country approach us not just to become members, but also to sponsor our policy work and the various events we organise to bring people together and project the voice of business. The relentless pace with which we are operating today, in terms of both the breadth of what we do and the depth of engagement, not only with the business community and relevant authorities, but also with various sections of society, is delivering results. The Malta Chamber today is highly visible in the media, but what people see out there is only the tip of the iceberg of what is actually happening here and within our business. A lot of the work we do today, we will reap the results of in future years.
The Malta Chamber today speaks clearly, and with conviction. Significant investment in terms of thought, time and energy has gone into shaping our policy positions on several fronts, and we continue to renew this every day so that we remain ahead of the policy curve. We do not only react to what matters for business, but we are on the lookout to anticipate relevant developments such that we can truly influence policy and set the agenda. Business needs to be in the driving seat. And business needs to communicate and inspire all sections of society.
Our Council is committed and aligned. We have had 20 Council Meetings and 17 Board of Management Meetings in the last 12 months. All 19 Council members have attended more than 75 % of these meetings – most more than 90%. Our staff is working round the clock. We may close the front door at 5pm, but you will catch several of them slipping out through the back door at least a couple of hours later – as happens in our own business organisations. And they love their work. They do it with passion and they do it with pride. They own their job.
With this level of commitment and enthusiasm, from members, sponsors and staff alike, it is possible to achieve a lot even with a relatively small staff complement of 20 people. The results that will be presented today are testament to this. I have to commend, not only the sterling work of our staff, but also the generous contribution members of ours who serve on Council, on the Executive Boards of our Economic Groups and Business Sections, on our Thematic Committees, and on the various Boards of entities on which the Malta Chamber is represented. Our engagement today in many of these Boards, as well as on the Boards of the Malta Business Bureau, and our PPPs: TradeMalta, TechMT and Education Malta, is active and aligned with the policy priorities of The Chamber. Our representatives on these Boards are active members who are constantly in the loop of our internal communications. And while our membership base grows every day, the level of engagement of our members who are constantly engaging to contribute towards policy formulation and representation of their sector keeps growing.
At a time when the challenges for business seem to multiply with each turn of global events, we do well to stand together within the structures of this respected organisation and its landmark building. A lot of work is happening also on the building so that it is truly reflective of the stature of this organisation and it can serve the needs of the business community well. This includes developing the full potential of the building for business networking and positioning it as a historic building that is constantly working towards reducing its carbon footprint while preserving its unique character: things that we constantly say in our policy contributions on sustainability. We practice what we preech.
In a similar way, we are also engaging actively with the upcoming generation. We constantly say that education is the key to the future of our businesses, and that education is much broader than schooling, and we are involving ourselves in the broader process of education through various forms of interaction with young people. Our own Young Chamber Network for members under 40 is gaining ground and we have recently launched a Global Shapers Hub under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum for youths 18-30 who have the potential to inspire change. Our engagement with educational institutions, particularly the University of Malta and MCAST, is also gaining momentum. We are at the forefront of promoting industry-academia collaboration in both research and vocational education.
We are also proud to be an unwielding voice on good governance and sustainability. Our positions on these matters are clear and consistent. The Malta Chamber will continue to be the voice of ethical business because we believe in fair competition, in doing business on a level playing field. And we are also working hard on this within the European dimension, where we have renewed The Chamber’s engagement on the challenges of operating from a mirco island state within the single market.
We have also just taken the first steps to revive the Malta Chamber Foundation, conscious of the legitimate expectations of some of our members that we engage more in philanthropic initiatives. The extent to which all these initiatives will be effective depends greatly on the engagement of our members. I therefore urge you all to activately contribution to the work of The Chamber and to make the best possible use of this platform and of the connections and resources we have. The door of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry is wide open for business and our staff will be knocking on your doors if we don’t see you around because the mission is clear: to support, represent and connect businesses to grow and engage in shaping Malta’s future.
Special thanks goes to the Board of Management, especially Deputy President Chris Vassallo Cesareo, Vice-President Liz Barbaro Sant and Vice-President Nick Xuereb, and to our CEO Dr Marthese Portelli, for their sterling commitment to their respective roles. It has been a real pleasure to work with you this year and I look forward to working with you for another year as we continue this journey together. I am also confident that with such a strong team at the helm of The Chamber, this organisation will continue growing from strength to strength in the foreseeable future.