Political parties contesting the next election are being asked to recognise the strategic and economic importance of the maritime industry and the blue economy by appointing a Minister dedicated to the sector.
The suggestion was made by the Malta Maritime Forum, which met with both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to present its wishlist for the parties’ electoral manifestos.
The Forum insisted that political leaders and national authorities offer their full, unrelenting and concrete backing to local and foreign investors in the maritime industry.
It advised authorities to consult wherever necessary, with both individual operators and with the MMF itself, on matters of policy which are material to investment decisions.
Political leaders were reminded that Malta and key private sector maritime operators are competing in a global village and they expect nothing less than investor-friendly conditions.
At the same time, the Forum called for a clear and properly communicated programme of infrastructural works within the ports of Malta with deadlines for completion.
In its document, the Forum acknowledged Malta’s National Transport Strategy but noted the absence of a specific policy document dedicated to the maritime industry.
“Such a document is required to provide statements of principle, objectives and direction to the country,” it said, to spell out Government’s vision and goals in the maritime sector for the immediate, medium and long-term.
It commented that besides contributing to ensure that the industry is governed in an efficient, consistent, sustainable, safe and environmentally sound manner, a properly implemented National Maritime Transport Policy can give the country the tools it needs to harness the full potential of the blue economy.
Other recommendations were regarding education and skills availability in the industry as well as about reviewing some outdated regulatory/enforcement parameters and work practices within the maritime industry which inhibit the development of new business.
Prime Minister Robert Abela said the sector had shown its importance to the country during the pandemic, both for the importation of essential provisions as well as for the employment opportunities it offers.
“We now need to look to the next step, to grow the sector while operators are capable of expanding.”
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