The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Changes to work permits bringing 2,000 new visas per month - Muscat

Julian Bonnici Friday, 6 July 2018, 11:10 Last update: about 5 months ago

Changes to the operations in the application for work permits to third country nationals has increased the number of issued visas significantly, with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat telling the Chamber of Commerce that the figures jumped from 3,000 over a six-month period, to 2,000 in just one month.

Muscat explained that upon suggestions from the Chamber, his government conducted a review of the system with various government entities from January to May of this year, and implemented the changes in June.

ADVERTISEMENT

Online applications are also due to be introduced.

“Have we done enough in the field?  No. That's why we urge you to submit more suggestions in this regard,” Muscat said.

While stressing that when it came to the issuing visas he had to find a balance between the requests of the Chamber and of the European Union, in order to ensure that the system was transparent.

“Improvements cannot come at the expense of the system,” he said.

Turning to foreign workers, Muscat said that the continued growth of this demographic was a positive sign of the economy’s continued growth given that they continued to fill vacuums within the economy. However, he did say that more work needed to be done in the educational sector, to line up the local population's skill level with the opportunities available in the market.

“We want to build bridges and have an open economy,” Muscat said, in statements that some may argue run contrary his recent aggressive policy on migration, specifically with NGO vessels.

With regards to the government's commitment to diversify the economy, he pointed to their recent advancements in the fields of blockchain and cryptocurrencies (which has gone through it's second reading in Parliament); medical tourism; and Crane Currency (in which Keith Schembri is involved.)

“We are leading the pack in creating niche sectors for the financial services sector,”he said.

Muscat also urged the importance of trust, innovation, and resilient institutions to continue progressing both in economic and social terms.

The Prime Minister was speaking at an invite for a question and answer session with the Chamber of Commerce, something which the media was barred from attending.

Chamber President Frank Farrugia began the event by highlighting some issues the sector is facing today namely late arrivals, labour shortages, public holidays which fall on a weekend, infrastructure, simplification of bureaucracy, the environment, and the free movement of goods.

He also highlighted concerns with commercial energy prices, noting that while they dropped by 25% a few years ago they still remained one of the highest rates in Europe.

Photo Michael Camilleri

  • don't miss