The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Foreign investors will make Malta their home

Malta Independent Monday, 3 February 2014, 11:05 Last update: about 7 years ago

Helga Ellul chose to contest the EP elections on the PN ticket for two main reasons, the first being that she always considered herself as a Christian Democrat, and the second because she admires the way in which the Gonzi-led government dealt with the financial crisis. On the other hand she has doubts as to whether the current Labour administration can achieve the same results.

“I have essentially worked with a PN government for the past 25 years. I have seen their business approach and how they support business. During the financial crisis the PN looked at companies in difficulty on an individual level and not only helped them get through their issues but also encouraged them to invest in their future.”

Ms Ellul insists however, that the PL’s economic roadmap is, so far, nowhere to be seen and the government has to pull its weight. “Can the PL do well with the economy? They had better. We are hearing about companies in trouble and the government has to act now. Unfortunately we have not seen a roadmap of where this government wants to go. Likewise, we have heard nothing on how the government plans to spend the record EU funding Malta got prior to the election. And now we have this ‘citizenship for sale’ issue. If this is the government’s only economic plan then we are heading in the wrong direction. What we need is to identify the right areas where to invest and provide the proper education for our youngsters.”

But the PN candidate does not disapprove of the idea of making €1 billion from the IIP. “Yes, the scheme was not thought through, rushed and had to go through all these changes. In its original form it was definitely not beneficial for Malta. But if the IIP is a genuine investment scheme that brings genuine investors to Malta then we should do it. A scheme of this sort will always be beneficial if it leads to job creation but it cannot be the government’s only plan. One billion is not bad money. It is quite a heavy investment but we still have to see how the money will be spent. Will it be used to create jobs, to improve our economy and literally create jobs? Only then would it be a real investment scheme.”

On Wednesday the government announced the third round of amendments to the scheme, introducing a one-year residency requirement prior to applying. This has, to some degree introduced a link between the applicant and the country.

Ms Ellul speaks with a passion about the need of having a bond with Malta because this is what her personal story is about. “I am very proud of my Maltese passport. 40 years ago I came to Malta for just a year. But I stayed, I bonded with the institutions, I employed people and I brought investment to the country. I think that, like me, people who come over for one year will fall in love with this beautiful island and stay longer than one year. Yes, if you can become part of the country then you should earn a passport. We always said yes to a real investment scheme but we said no to an outright sale.”

When asked about PN leader Simon Busuttil’s claims that he would revoke citizenships granted under an “illegal” version of the IIP, which could mean that a PN government would have to refund €1 billion, Ms Ellul replied that Dr Busuttil was speaking about the “old” version of the scheme. The PN candidate also feels that Malta’s reputation was harmed by this “rushed” scheme and as is always the case the damage will take time to heal. She added, however, that if the scheme is genuine other European countries might eventually change their opinion.

Ms Ellul was also quizzed on her prospects in the upcoming EP elections. The PN candidate believes that her being German and Maltese at the same time will be an advantage. “I have lived in Naxxar since I got married but I am still called the Germaniza. People say it in a nice way but to a certain extent I will always be a foreigner as well as Maltese. I definitely feel Maltese, I belong here, I will not leave this country but, yes, I grew up in Germany. I actually think that this could be an advantage.” One thing she never got around to is learning Maltese, owing to the fact that she was never encouraged to do so and the business environment demanded English speaking.

According to Helga Ellul one of the main themes of the electoral campaign will be the economy and employment. “We need to talk about where the EU is now and where it needs to go.” Youth participation in politics is another topic of debate. “Our youths are interested about the EU but they do not go out and vote and yet they criticise. I think that youngsters should go out, vote, choose their representatives wisely and make change happen.”

The PN candidate says that she entered the political arena because her experience in the business sector can be advantageous to both the EU and Malta. “Europe, like a business, has to evolve. Unemployment is a big EU issue right now and I do not believe in the carpet approach that is sometimes adopted. Not all countries have the same problems and needs and a more personalised approach is needed. This is the same concept as a national economy.”

Ms Ellul thinks that Malta can become an even stronger EU economy, despite being the smallest member state. “We have no resources, only our human capital. And I think that we can capitalise on that by opening up to new niche markets by being flexible and adaptable. We have done well in sectors like the gaming industry and aircraft maintenance but that is not enough. We have to see the new areas where Malta could fit in a niche, like research and innovation. The country should follow on the plans of the previous administration and focus on the bio-industry.”

Besides economic and business affairs, Ms Ellul also holds two particular subjects close to heart. The first is related to mental health issues, particularly how to deal with them at the work place. “I like to refer to it as a healthy mind because it is much more positive. All of us go through some kind of mental health issues at some point or other, whether it is stress or grief, and no one should feel ashamed of seeking professional help.” Ms Ellul said that she has seen firsthand how people take their problems with them to work, resulting in a decrease in productivity. This is why she believes that companies should have specially trained professionals who are able to help employees who are going through these phases and encourage them to seek professional advice.

Another proposal of Ms Ellul’s is to have a Social Enterprise Act in Malta. “There are so many of these in Europe, creating social enterprises which are not for profit but rather to give dignity to people with special needs. Bakeries, coffee shops and laundries are just three examples of enterprises that can empower people with special needs and help them really integrate in society.” The EP candidate says that Malta has done well when it comes to schooling but many people with special needs have no future to look forward to after finishing their studies. Playmobil runs a similar scheme, or rather a “business proposal” which helps people with special needs find dignity in work and encourage them to better their skills and capabilities.

Ms Ellul believes that this time round the Nationalist Party can elect a third MEP. “The PN has a very good team and we are working very well together. On the other hand people are realising that Joseph Muscat’s promise of ‘Malta for All’ is not real. The PN was the party that always wanted a Malta for all because it strived to give a good standard of living to everybody. The party may have lost the election because it was not close to the people but the new PN team is well aware of that and is working on it and, yes, it looks good.”

 

 

 
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