The Malta Chamber of Commerce has called on the newly formed government to do its utmost to cut out clientelism and undertake a “massive” reform of the planning system.

The chamber met with Prime Minister Robert Abela as well as ministers Miriam Dalli, Clyde Caruana and Silvio Schembri on Thursday, to which the press was invited to hear their opening remarks.

Chamber President Marisa Xuereb congratulated Abela on the government’s electoral success, adding that with a strong mandate comes the opportunity to make a jump in the quality of how politics is done.

“Prime Minister, the trust that people have given you is an opportunity to get rid of the clientelism that exists at every level of public administration,” she said.

“We have a lot of people who work for the government both directly and indirectly. A number of government entities compete directly with the private sector in the provision of services and public procurement still lacks accountability and transparency.” 

Along with a clear direction on the future of planning and education, Xuereb said the country relied on the government to lead the way in these sectors. 

“The lack of quality human resources, political ambivalence and clientelism together result in the lack of good governance that goes beyond the FATF,” she continued.

“The country needs serious and massive reform in environment and planning, a change in the way government entities operate that should facilitate more investment in technology and increased efficiency in the way our courts operate."

She added the country must also focus on raising its international profile and regain its good reputation overseas.

“We need to become more credible on affairs that concern the international community, including money laundering, drug and arms trafficking, the treatment of foreign workers, the passport scheme and the way we relate to the rest of Europe and third countries,” Xuereb said.

She also said that ministries that have overlapping elements must be better aligned and that more must be done to improve the education system to reach students who are leaving school and immediately require reskilling.

In the spirit of open dialogue, Xuereb also said the MCESD cannot remain a “talk shop” where the level of dialogue is akin to that of a village square.

“It is crucial there is an upgrade in the way it is led, in preparations, in the transparency on issues of national importance, in the level of discussion, in the answers that are given and ultimately in the results it can achieve,” she said.

“Every time the MCESD was used appropriately it translated into beneficial results for the whole country. The same applies to the ERB, where issues related to industrial relations should be discussed before they are brought to the MCESD and certainly well before they find themselves in an electoral program.” 

In his address to the Chamber, Abela said the government was planning on relaxing more COVID-19 measures in the coming days, a sign that the country is “edging closer to normality every day.”

No time to waste - Abela

The Prime Minister said that the government is committed to sustaining the country’s economic recovery, both for those who have managed to progress despite the challenges of the pandemic as well as those who fell behind as a result.

In the context of digitalisation and decarbonisation, the government is committed to forging ahead to meet targets.

“We have no time to waste in reaching our targets, although we are not very far from getting there,” Abela said.

“We are looking towards the IIP and European funds to sustain our efforts, although we believe that the path to success is found in partnership with the private sector.”

He added that the government would be allocating more resources for a “culture change” towards sustainability and look at it not as a challenge but as an opportunity to transform and grow.

While condemning the “atrocities” happening in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Abela acknowledged that the war was putting pressure on both businesses and citizens and said they were “preparing for the impact war will have on the people”.

Abela added that the government was also putting a particular focus on its employment policies, with the aim of increasing leadership and upskilling.

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