SME Chamber CEO Abigail Agius Mamo has clapped back at Finance Minister Clyde Caruana after the latter’s comments in Parliament, where he encouraged Maltese businesses to look for opportunities to grow abroad.
“The Minister gave the impression that opportunities in Malta are lacking, so companies must go abroad,” she tells BusinessNow.mt. “We do not agree with that.”
Ms Agius Mamo argues that on the contrary, there will be many opportunities in new or transforming economic segments, “but missing a plan will not lead us in this direction, or it will be extremely slow.”
She further highlights the Finance Minister’s “inconsistency” when saying that Maltese businesses “must look away from our shores” while at the same time offering incentives and advantageous tax rates that “welcome any kind of foreign-owned business with open arms.”
She continues: “Many of these foreign businesses setting up shop in Malta operate in the same sectors as Maltese-owned businesses. So we are incentivising them to come and compete on favourable terms against Maltese businesses, while telling Maltese business owners to look abroad for opportunities.”
On Monday (yesterday), Minister Caruana responded to calls made by the Chamber of SMEs last week to cut taxes – such as the VAT and the import duty on certain products (is-sisa) – to alleviate the inflationary burden on Maltese consumers, thereby helping businesses by boosting consumption.
While acknowledging the problems faced by some businesses, the Minister was unequivocal in his statement, making it clear that the solution for business problems would not be found in the reduction of VAT or import duties, pointing out that the Government is already spending huge amounts to subsidise energy and fuel.
He added that the Maltese market is a small one, and strongly encouraged Maltese businesses to look for opportunities abroad, even calling on Malta most prominent entrepreneurs to take the lead by guiding the business community towards an “outward perspective”.
Speaking to BusinessNow.mt, Ms Agius Mamo says that the organisation is in agreement with the Minister about the local market’s small size and the importance of internationalising, pointing out that it “regularly works with members to go in that direction.”
“However,” she continues, “part of the problem, in terms of the amount of domestic competition, of the recycling of ideas that do not necessarily have any innovative element, lies with the lack of economic vision.”
Delving deeper into the argument, the SME Chamber CEO says that businesses need more visibility on what they can do and what areas they can invest in, and not simply be directed to look abroad.
“What we need, ultimately, is an economic vision that can serve as a guide, so that the business community can invest with some peace of mind.”
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