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The Time is Now

For many of us, the challenges faced in the last twelve months were truly unparalleled. Never in our lifetime have we experienced such a prolonged halt to entire sectors of the global economy. Most of all, however, none of us would have thought that we could actually endure such a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. 

Unsurprisingly, however, this is also the reason why I feel more responsibility to be writing to you; members of the Malta Chamber, for the very first time as Minister for Enterprise. The endurance, strength and resilience shown by yourselves during these months were way superior to the adversities and the challenges which presented themselves in such an unexpected manner. 

This is also why together we need to look forward, be bold and decisive, creative and innovative. 

Our time is now.

There is no other viable option for our enterprise but to rapidly adapt to new market dynamics and to changing consumer trends both domestically and beyond our shores. Looking back and trying to emulate past formulas will simply not work in the years to come. 

Ironically, whilst the pandemic brought commerce to a standstill, it also accelerated the changes in consumer and corporate behaviour which we were only pondering upon before 2020. Remote working became the accepted norm almost overnight when CTOs all over the globe were contemplating this idea for an entire decade. Global appreciation of sustainability and quality of life was also supported by the events that happened during the last twelve months. Consumer patterns shifted irreversibly towards a digital and sustainable consumption trend.

There has never been a better time than today to implement change.

My objective is to be an enabler of this positive change. My Ministry’s energy is focused on ensuring a practical and supportive approach to our enterprise. This is indispensable to implement the needed change at a corporate level and reach our common goals as a nation. 

My philosophy is that as policymakers we need to constantly be in touch with our key stakeholders, understand where the industry pain points are and ensure that policy is directed towards mitigating these risks and deliver a framework which allows our industries to flourish. All this without losing sight of our long-term goals which are now more than ever firmly embedded in sustainability and quality growth.

This approach was crucial during the last months. Indeed, one of my initial decisions since taking office was the modification of the wage supplement scheme which departed from segregation by NACE code and shifted towards supporting those companies whose revenues were hit hardest by the pandemic. Simultaneously we also allowed for the wage support to be extended to new employees which were replacing essential staff who resigned on their own request in the first months of the crisis. 

Listening carefully and adapting quickly to the changing dynamics truly allowed us to save lives and livelihoods. 

In this context, the Malta Chamber was a key player. Bringing reason and rationale to the table whilst constantly mindful and appreciative of the bigger picture. 

My work relative to the domestic enterprise is anchored with the economic vision so clearly spelt out by the Prime Minister in a historic cabinet meeting held at the Malta Chamber last summer. 

Our vision is embedded in sustainable economic prosperity which needs to be supported by strong governance, forward-looking education and infrastructure which will take the country on course to achieve our long-term carbon-neutrality targets. A strategy which so accurately embodies the outlook that the Malta Chamber itself highlighted in its five-year economic policy recommendations.

In this setting, Malta Enterprise’s drive will remain essential to support our business community. Indeed, our efforts are presently focused to ensure adequate incentives and support measures for our businesses to regenerate themselves and be better placed to get going as the global economy is reignited. We want to ensure that survival measures start evolving into growth enabling incentives which allow our companies to capitalize on employee upskilling, invest in digitalization and other areas. This will ensure that our enterprise is propelled to a new-normality and be able to deliver sustainable growth over the long-term.

We are also actively working to ensure a stronger capital flow and access to finance for Maltese businesses. A stronger equity base will be essential to guarantee future investment particularly following these last months of capital depletion which many of us were exposed to. 

This article has been published on MaltaToday on the 20th of February,2021.