The Malta Independent 30 July 2021, Friday

TMID Editorial: Economic vision - Striking the right balance

Saturday, 17 July 2021, 08:08 Last update: about 13 days ago

Many interesting and relevant points were raised on Thursday during a public consultation conference organised by MIMCOL on the country’s economic vision for the next ten years.

The vision, unveiled some weeks back, aims to boost Malta’s economic growth in the coming years, but also aims to strike a balance between the economy and the environment.

Thursday’s conference focused on infrastructure and investment, not only in terms of industry, manufacture, tourism and connectivity but also on how this can be achieved with minimal negative impact on the country’s environment.

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Several good ideas were discussed during the event – ideas that will hopefully become part of this strategy.

It was argued that Malta will be seeking to attract more foreign investment, particularly in the digital and manufacturing sectors.

New companies coming to Malta will require somewhere to work from, and it is inevitable that our industrial areas will grow. But the government is looking to make the best use of these spaces, and the concept of building upwards is one that is being favourably looked upon. This means that spaces that currently house one company could house three, four or even more. This is certainly the way to go in a country as small and as built up as ours.

Another point of focus was the need to invest in new green public areas. The government is acknowledging that the wellbeing of our citizens is as important as economic growth. While it will not be easy to find a lot of urban spaces that can be turned green, this can certainly be achieved with a change in mentality.

As one speaker pointed out, until a few years ago one could not even imagine Pjazza Tritoni or Castille Square being pedestrianised. Yet they were, and it was not the end of the world. This concept should now be ‘exported’ to other localities around Malta and Gozo.

The need to keep investing in digital infrastructure was also discussed. If we are to attract more companies working in this field, we must have the necessary infrastructure in place. In this regard, the private sector has already made a lot of progress, including with the provision of a strong internet connection and the introduction of 5G.

During the conference, Transport Malta also acknowledged that the road improvement projects, although necessary, will not solve the traffic problem, and we must now look at a mass transport system.

More importantly, there will be more investment electric charging pillars, so that the shift to electric vehicles can go beyond being a pilot project. As another speaker said, we cannot invest in this infrastructure gradually, as the need for electric cars increases. In fact, we need to have this infrastructure in place as soon as possible, to encourage this shift.

The recent grey listing by the FATF was also discussed, with speakers from the private sectors stressing the need for more enforcement and better laws and regulations. Reputation is key to attract more investment to Malta, and past mistakes cannot be repeated.

Thursday’s conference was one in a series of meetings held with private stakeholders over the past weeks. The vision unveiled by government a few weeks ago is already heading in the right direction. One hopes that the valid suggestions put forward during this consultation exercise will be positively considered and included in the country’s vision for the post-pandemic years.

 

 

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