The Malta Independent 19 September 2020, Saturday

‘We are after less government and more governance’ – Chamber of Commerce ThinkTank

Karl Azzopardi Tuesday, 4 August 2020, 15:14 Last update: about 3 months ago

We are after less government and more governance, President of the Chamber of Commerce David Xuereb said during the Chamber’s announcement of its ThinkTank results aimed at a post-COVID economic recovery plan.

This Chamber has been working on this ThinkTank since March and it is expected to keep the process going for the coming 2 years. Discussions were held among the Core group which consisted of members of the Chamber, 12 representatives of different economic sectors as well as 150 leading CEOs and entrepreneurs.

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Chairperson of the Core Group Joshua Zammit said that it was a courageous decision for the Chamber to ask what is next at a time when people were thinking about survival.

“We have to appreciate that we were doing this work at a time where we did not know what was happening, we learnt as we went along, so it was not the most helpful situation to be in. There was also the fact that the global economy was switched off,” he said.

These discussions revolved around several points, namely the feeling of fear, impact on the business environment, telework, online education, increased health awareness and changes in consumer behaviour.

The group worked on a number of possible scenarios varying from a short-term economic recovery to spikes in COVID-19 cases to long-term recovery. Notably, all these scenarios are based on the idea that nothing outside of COVID-19 will come up and this is the idea on which the Chamber’s plan for the next 2 years.

The group concluded on 11 themes of calls for action that provide the platform on which to build the future starting with a clear economic vision that shows why the government has to view the economy as important and make an investment in the country less risky.

Additionally, the group has called for better regulation and enforcement, good governance to protect sectors dependent on the reputation of the country, digitisation and innovation, government assistance, development of human resources, sustainability, reforming and aligning education, promotion and communication as well as becoming more data-driven.

With these themes in mind, all 12 representatives made recommendations for the government to take implement.

Some of the most noticeable ones include the suggestions placed by roundtable chairperson for tourism Alan Arrigo, who requested for lower VAT rates, by 7% to be exact, on tourism so that Malta will have a level playing field. He also called for the promotion of Malta as a safe destination so that tourists feel safe coming to Malta, something which also requires Malta’s ports to open safely.

With regards to the financial services sector, Malcolm Booker said that the government must focus on rebuilding and safeguarding Malta’s reputation, mainly with regards to the Moneyval situation.

“Recommendations being proposed are of no significance unless Malta’s reputation is tackled swiftly and decisively,” Booker said, also proposing for Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance principles to be woven in Malta’s fabric and supporting innovation.

OPM Minister Carmelo Abela said; “we know that government has to shoulder a lot of responsibility when it comes to Malta’s reputation and governance. Good governance is crucial across the board including institutions.” However, he called for everyone to also look at what they can personally do to help rather than directing others.

PL MEP Miriam Dalli said that she is satisfied with what she saw today as through its recommendations the chamber showed a forward-looking mentality. “I like to look at COVID-19 as a catalyst and I see that the Chamber is taking this on board too.”

His excellency the President of Malta George Vella also expressed his gratitude towards these efforts emphasising prioritising national interest – “we need to see a government and an opposition that will lead the next steps in human regeneration.”

The full findings as presented by the Chamber can be 

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