Unquestionably, the government interventions during the COVID-19 and during the ongoing challenges brought about by wars have proven instrumental in maintaining business stabilityand in mitigating the impact of inflation.
Whilst the European Commission has forecasted a slowdown in economic growth across the Eurozone, Malta’s economy grew 10 times the European average. This week I visited the premises of an international company – De La Rue – that is making significant strides in its operations. This company is creating high-quality jobs in a specialised field, promoting diversification, and contributing to a more sustainable future. Furthermore, it is investing in a factory expansion that minimises the company’s environmental impact.
An investment that perfectly aligns with the incentives and initiatives outlined in Budget2024.
Our overarching goal is to foster sustainable economic growth, primarily focusing on high-value-added companies that generate quality employment opportunities for Maltese and Gozitan students and workers. To achieve this, our strategy aims to attract smaller yet high-value-added and productive companies, with a focus on innovation, the green and blue economy.
To support these objectives, the 2024 budget will introduce a revamped start-up finance framework designed to favour innovative companies. Notably, Malta is currently home to two international accelerators, further fueling the growth of sectors such as life sciences, MedTech, BioTech, food technology, FinTech, and education technology, among others. Jobs that comewith an average salary of €40,000.
The second pillar of our investment strategy focuses on nurturing existing companies and sectors, enabling them to expand and diversify. Consequently, Budget2024 includes renewing schemes like Microinvest and Invest, which incentivise investments.
Because we truly believe in delivering an economy which is knowledge-based and as part of our diversified economic approach, Malta has applied for a project under the Important Project of Common European Interest, with ST Microelectronics. This project was successfully chosen, together with another 16 projects, aiming to create cutting-edge products in the field of microelectronics and communication technology in the European Union.
This endeavor positions Malta as a country that develops the world’s most advanced microelectronics products. To further strengthen and diversify, we are working to set up a Competence Center in Malta. This will be established under the Microchips Act of the EU, providing the infrastructure to support innovators and companies in creating new products in microelectronics technology.
We are also actively fostering new sectors through initiatives such as the Blue Med initiative, allocating €4 million to attract innovative companies specialising in the blue economy. This includes companies involved in CleanTech, food tech, sustainable aquaculture and offshore renewables – all of which contribute to preserving and enhancing our seas.
Our third focus centres on enhancing education and skills development for our workforce. We are committed to strengthening the Get Qualified and Skills Development Scheme: we knowthat our country’s most valuable economic resource is its people and we want to continue to reinforce this potential.
The fourth pillar is to incentivise the twin transition. As a result, we have also taken the Skill Development Scheme and put it at the disposal of companies who want to train their employees in ESG. Furthermore, we have introduced a new scheme offering assistance to small and medium-sized companies in preparing and implementing ESG criteria within their organizations. Another scheme that supports this transition is the Smart and Sustainable Scheme, whose attractiveness as a scheme is becoming increasingly popular. This scheme will be sustained during 2024 as well. For larger companies, we are enhancing the Investment Aid for Energy Efficiency scheme.
In addition to these initiatives, we are committed to streamlining bureaucratic processes. In 2024, we will launch the Portal for Businesses, a one-stop online platform that consolidates all government services, making them easily accessible in a single location.
Of course, the above would not have been possible without a strong economy. Our economy has grown 10 times the European average, mostly due to this Government’s decision to shield our enterprises, households, workers and most vulnerable from the increase in oil prices. Between June 2021 and June 2023, businesses alone have saved circa €370 million in energy savings, thanks to our policy. Savings that helped protect jobs and helped companies invest further.
Our strategy remains one: to choose support over austerity, investment over cutbacks, quality over quantity and innovation over stagnation.