Some of Malta’s top business leaders had the opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions at the first-ever Maltese Parliament of Enterprises, held as part of Parliament’s outreach programme, on Wednesday.
The event, organised by the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry in collaboration with Eurochambres, allowed participating entrepreneurs to discuss themes such as skills in the modern labour market, competitiveness, sustainable development and research, development and innovation.
Opening the session on behalf of the Malta Chamber, president Frank V. Farrugia said: “These themes are very close to our hearts. As people in business, we cannot emphasise enough, how important it is for Malta to get it right on these four fronts, in order to create jobs and growth for the country and our people.”
“Our event today is aimed at bringing businesses and our Parliament face-to-face for one morning, so as to enhance dialogue and mutual understanding.
“This initiative provides concrete proof of a will for collaboration between our two worlds. A dialogue, that I augur will span beyond these walls and way into the future, for the benefit of our entrepreneurs, our economy and our country,” Farrugia concluded.
What matters is not the size of the country but the ideas coming out of it
Christopher Leitl, president of Eurochambres, said that entrepreneurs in Europe should be proactive, providing appropriate answers in a world full of uncertainty, challenges and disruption.
He spoke of the important role that business people and entrepreneurs played within the social ecosystem and the need for backing from other sectors of society in order for this role to be effective.
“We are paying taxes, creating jobs, serving the countries and the people within them by doing that and we are proud of that, but we need support from the government, as well as social partners.”
Leitl said he saw a great opportunity for the future and a new kind of economy – the circular economy – which would not waste resources but, in fact, regain them.
“We should be discussing intelligent growth, not limits of growth. Some people may think of the circular economy as a threat, thinking that it will be expensive and incur losses, but it’s a great opportunity for us to be innovative, creative, find appropriate solutions and deliver it to all parts of the world.”
“What matters is not the size of the country but the ideas coming out of it,” Leitl concluded.
Among the speakers was Helga Ellul, former president of the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, who called on the private sector to continue to invest in its workforce through the numerous training and lifelong opportunities that exist even via European membership.
Stefano Mallia, also a former member of the Malta Chamber and current member of the European Economic and Social Committee, spoke about Brexit and insisted that Malta’s priority throughout the whole process is to defend European business interests.
Other speakers included Vodafone Malta CEO Sonia Hernandez, who urged the government to revise the taxation of telecommunication services and facilitate research and development in the sector.
Denise Micallef Xuereb, construction and development director at AX Group, stressed the difference between construction and development and that development did not mean sacrificing Malta’s built or environmental heritage. However, she insisted that there needed to be further regulation to ensure quality and safety of projects and well thought-out masterplans.
Chris Vassallo Cesareo, managing director of Domestica Ltd, said that the free movement of goods could not equate to a “free-for-all” situation, discarding all respect for a level playing field.
Speaking on behalf of the Importers Economic Group, he pointed out that excise duties introduced to give more power to Customs had been used against bona fide importers and merchants.
The session was also addressed by the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and members of Parliament from both sides of the House.
The event was organised in collaboration with the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Eurochambres.
Correction March 18: Denise Micallef Xuereb is director at AX Holdings not AX Group.
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