The Malta Chamber and the The Malta Chamber of SMEs have both praised Government plans announced this week to introduce a right to banking for businesses and self-employed.
The right to a bank account for individuals is already enshrined in Maltese law, and this will be extended to businesses and self-employed, a move intended to ease the difficulties enterprises have long complained about with regards the setting up of business bank accounts.
At a press conference earlier this week, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said:”…As we promised in the election manifesto, as we introduced the right to the basic bank account for individuals, we will extend this right to self-employed and businesses, in line with European financial supervision regulations.”
Minister Schembri explained that Government will set up a Credit Review Office on the models used by other European countries. This office will be reconciling and arbitrating between commercial banks and their customers about applications for loans that have been rejected. He said that this office will play the role of ensuring that the lending system works effectively, especially for small businesses and the self-employed.
“We also know that a number of Government entities ask for the due diligence process, so we will be seeing how as a first step, this due diligence process becomes one and the information can be shared with the government entities concerned. The second step would be to also open this process to the private sector at the forefront of banking,” said Minister Schembri.
He explained that in order to do this, a Steering Committee will be set up, led by him as Minister for the Economy and composed of several other entities including the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), the Central Bank of Malta, the MFSA, the Malta Business Registry, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Economy, among others.
The Committee will be working in two phases with the first phase being legislative, proposing changes to the necessary laws and in the second phase being that of implementation where this Committee is added here to it other members, including banks and service providers.
During the Enterprise Consultative Council, other themes were also discussed including the sanctions imposed on Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine and the challenge of finding foreign workers to take up employment in our country.
The Malta Chamber
The Malta Chamber welcomed the Government announcement, pointing out that the proposal formed part of its pre-electoral wish-list for the next Government to come to power.
It also welcomed that the above mentioned Steering Committee will be tasked with introducing a shared due diligence system to avoid bureaucracy, another proposal made by the Chamber
The SME Chamber
Similarly, the SME Chamber welcomed the move and also pointed out that it had raised the issue in meetings with the Prime Minister.
“The SME Chamber commends the Government on prioritising this important subject, given the drastic deterioration of the banking services and also the failures in the market functioning. This marks a very courageous move from the Governments’ side in support to businesses, something the SME Chamber greatly appreciates.
“Enshrining the right to a bank account to self-employed and businesses is an important basic right that is a very good step forward. It is unfortunate that escalating the matter to a level that required legislative action was needed to give businesses this basic need.”
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