The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

TMID Editorial: Malta’s attractiveness - Country’s reputation causing damage

Thursday, 22 October 2020, 09:41 Last update: about 2 months ago

Malta’s damaged international reputation is affecting Malta’s attractiveness to foreign investors.

According to EY’s annual Attractiveness Survey released earlier this week, in 2019, 77% said Malta was attractive, while 15% said it wasn’t. In 2020, 62% said Malta is attractive while 25% said it wasn’t. The rest responded ‘don’t know’. The survey was conducted among foreign companies in Malta.

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So while the majority still see Malta as an attractive country for investment, there was a substantial decline from the previous year.

Such a result is a worrying concern, especially now that Malta’s economy will need to kickstart again once the Covid-19 crisis passes.

The government has, time and time again, said that Malta has thus far managed to issue measures to help the economy through the virus period because of the success seen over the past years. That success would not be possible without foreign investment in the country.

However, a decline in the country’s attractiveness is a warning that the government should not take lightly, as it could be a sign of things to come.

The report read that survey respondents emphasized the country’s waning international reputation and the need to improve on governance as crucial aspects for this decline.

This essentially proves that, what the Opposition and the media have been warning the government about for the past years, is actually happening.

Under Joseph Muscat, the country was rife with political scandal and corruption allegations. Electrogas, Vitals Global Healthcare, Pilatus Bank, the Panama Papers, Café Premier, countless Planning Authority decisions, direct orders, the visa scandals and the list goes on. To top that all off, a journalist was assassinated.

The government tried to pretend everything was normal and was alright. Clearly this was a massive error in judgement by the government, and the country might pay for it.

A country’s reputation determines whether quality honest businesses would consider investing in that country or not.

The report read that the Council of Europe’s MoneyVal assessment was frequently mentioned by respondents as a cause for concern. The government recently worked on a number of changes to Malta’s laws and to a number of institutions in an attempt to tackle this issue. Hopefully it will be enough. If not, Malta will be in trouble.

The only way forward is to ensure that scandals become a thing of the past, and that transparency, good governance and clean deals line the country’s future.

Malta’s name was dragged through the mud by the government’s actions over the past years, but now it is good to see that certain things are changing.

Changes made in the police force, not just in terms of leadership but also in terms of communication with the media, is positive. Splitting up the role of the Attorney General was also a move in the right direction, as were other reforms introduced. Government agreements, however, need to be handled in a more transparent manner, and we should not see another FKNK signing debacle occur.

There is a lot of work to be done. The government cannot fail the country again.

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