Malta must strive to be the "best in the world" in the next decade, Prime Minister Robert Abela said as he launched the public consultation document outlining Malta’s economic vision for 2021-2031.
Speaking at the launch event on Thursday, Abela said that despite the challenges the country faced because of COVID-19, Malta's employment and Gross Domestic Product figures are back to pre-pandemic levels.
"Almost 5,000 new businesses were set up in 2020. The business sector knows we are behind it," he said.
"Today, we launch the economic vision for this next decade. The last 10 years saw us bridge the gap between us and the EU. Now, the next decade will see us become a centre of excellence," Abela said.
According to the prime minister, the economic vision will be based on five pillars:
- sustainable economic growth;
- good governance;
- and what Abela described as "the most important pillar" - the environment.
In order to achieve the goals, Malta needs to radically transform training and education in a way that creates a culture where learning is an ongoing process, he said.
And on good governance, Abela said that "weak regulators mean weak sectors" and so institutions needed to be beefed up.
"We have to strive to be the best in the world," he repeated throughout his address.
Although according to Abela the island is "on the right track" when it comes to environment issues, "more needs to be done".
He said large investments will be needed to address issues such as climate change.
The economic vision is due to be published and will go through a process of public consultation.
What does the document say?
The document is high on rhetoric but low on any measurable targets, ahead of public consultation.
Pillar 1: Sustainable Economic Growth
The document sets out the 'framework' for how all public and private players will contribute to reshaping the country’s economic model to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth for the long-term by:
• Redefining the measures of success
• Sustaining and supporting investment as a key driver
• Safeguarding and enhancing competitiveness
• Improving productivity by leveraging digital
• Strengthening economic sectors and developing new clusters and niches
Pillar 2: Infrastructure and Investment
This vision aspires to:
• Catalyse quality investment in infrastructure built around a national plan
• Transition to safe and secure multi-modal mobility
• Secure a reliable, clean and efficient energy mix
• Enhance digital connectivity and security
• Strengthen logistics connectivity
• Protect existing green and open spaces and provide new ones
Pillar 3:Education and Employment
This pillar aims to elevate the work force to a level that competes with the "most advanced and attractive" economies. To achieve this Malta must:
• Frame the future skills landscape and prioritise the closing of skills gaps
• Align education curricula with the skills required for tomorrow’s economy
• Establish Malta as an International Education Hub of Excellence
• Reskill and upskill the workforce
• Attract and retain diverse talent while curbing brain drain of the best talent
Pillar 4: Environment
The Economic Vision for Malta sees that environmental degradation is no longer ‘sine qua non’ to economic success. The increased likelihood of a climate/environmental crisis means we need to be prepared and ensure resilience, the document states. Activities which protect the environment will not only ensure a better quality of life and the safeguarding of natural resources, but also lead to the development of new economic niches, investment and a better tourism offering. This will be achieved through:
• Efficient use of resources, including land, and better waste management
• Combatting emissions and pollution
• Achieving carbon neutrality
• Providing green finance
• Protecting Malta’s seas and harnessing the blue economy
• Preservation and restoration of nature habitats
Pillar 5:Governance and rule of law
The document says Malta must strive for continued improvement in the integrity and transparency of its public institutions to further promote good governance, stronger governance across the economy, and deep respect for the rule of law as an integral part of the Malta Economic Vision 2031. This can be achieved by:
• Enshrining rule of law, strengthening governance, transparency and ensuring accountability
• Strengthening the regulatory environment to ensure and enforce compliance with the highest international standards
• Implementing the necessary reforms for a faster and fairer justice system
• Prioritising data protection and privacy as fundamental prerequisites for a digital economy.