Libya should be seen as an opportunity to businesses, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Thursday, an idea Malta is also pushing at EU level. 

In comments ahead of a meeting with the Malta Chamber of SMEs as part of a series of sessions with social partners ahead of the October 19 Budget, Robert Abela said the issue with migration and Libya is “a political one”. 

“Libya has to be seen as an opportunity. Nobody has a right to enter Libya and make it their own but we need to give Libyans opportunities to be trade partners,” he said. This approach will also help tackle the migration problem. 

He also assured businesses that the changes being carried out by the government to implement Moneyval’s recommendations would not impact them. 

“We will make sure that we won’t hurt businesses and their operations. We have appointed the best people and we are making progress but we won’t impact operations,” he said. 

On his part, president Paul Abela said the Chamber would be putting forward 19 proposals for the government’s consideration, saying “the storm had yet to pass”. 

He urged the government to consider increasing the period of repayments to the development bank from four years to 10, saying businesses who take the bold decision of investing further during such uncertain times should be assisted. 

Paul Abela said the Chamber is also calling for the VAT rates to be reduced this year, something other countries were doing as they try to recover following the hit the economy took because of the pandemic. 

Digital business should also be a priority, as should updating the tourism strategy, he said. 

“Even the smallest shop in the smallest village was impacted by the lack of tourists,” Paul Abela said. 

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