Valletta

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has expressed its concern on the current state of play and the manner in which challenges the country is facing are being handled.

It highlighted that the economy and the quality of life of the public are suffering due to a lack of foresight, poor planning, weak transparency, and the slow pace in which action is taken.

“The country is in a nose-dive, and we persist in denial, failing to read the signs of the times. It is time to stop trying to please everyone at once and to prioritise the long-term national interest over immediate partisan interests,” read The Malta Chamber’s statement.

Government was urged to listen to warnings voiced by people of non-partisan interest, and to address structural issues that are impairing productivity, undermining competitiveness, the country’s attractiveness, and the public’s well-being and quality of life.

“The time for patched up, short-term quick fixes are over.”

It noted that the same issues have been discussed in multiple fora over the years, and while there have been improvements, the approach was criticised for being uncoordinated. The Malta Chamber said that the general situation continued to deteriorate, as the issues continued to grow since they were not tackled promptly and effectively.

“The damage done in the meantime is in many cases irreversible, as evidenced by our urban landscape,” added The Malta Chamber.

“The traffic situation, the power outages, the shabbiness, the lack of proper waste management and the tragedies at workplaces are just some examples of issues that The Malta Chamber is constantly harping on.”

It urged the country’s leadership to step up and take the right decisions with the required urgency, regardless of how tough they may be.

The Malta Chamber listed the following decisions which had to be taken:

  • Implement tangible measures to reduce traffic congestion, such as attaching car license fees to usage, introducing parking fees in central urban areas with fees paid being transferred into an e-mobility wallet for use of sustainable means of transport, and restricting certain congesting activities during peak hours;
  • Ensure a reliable supply of electricity that can cater for our predictably hot summers without recurring power outages;
  • Ensure proper maintenance and cleansing of public areas;
  • Ensure proper enforcement of laws and regulations in all spheres of business activity and for all residents and visitors;
  • Provide assistance to real low-income earners rather than distributing handouts;
  • Direct subsidies to businesses operating a sustainable model to help such businesses become more viable and prevalent in our economy;
  • Incentivise a shift away from labour-intensive activities towards an economic model which is not dependent on increasing the population.

The Malta Chamber explained that the present economic model requires the importation of an additional 20,000 workers annually, which it described as unsustainable and is pushing the country’s infrastructure to breaking point.

It reiterated that Malta needs to overcome the “illusion” that, due to the country’s small size, it only needs to attract a small portion of business from the global economy to succeed.

“Our GDP may be growing, but the country is progressing way too slowly in addressing what will increasingly mean more to people and to sustainable business models.”

It warned that eventually, Malta will be outpaced by its competitors on all fronts. The Malta Chamber called for the need of a clear strategy, beyond one which depends on “importing labour indefinitely, in the hope that this will help support the needs of our ageing population, not least of which is the pensions timebomb.”

The Malta Chamber concluded by urging Government to rise up to the challenge and act before it is too late.

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