What kind of educational changes are needed?
the business we can take and probably the business to which we can appeal. I really do not see Brexit as a threat: in some aspects there might be some opportunities because, for smaller players looking for a European jurisdiction, Malta might neatly fit the bill.
“What we need to protect is the fact that we are still fast and nimble – we can act quickly for the right players and carry out the due diligence quickly.
We always need to bear in mind our size – we are doing well and let’s continue to.
We noticed a sense of urgency in your speech at the recent launch EY’s Attractiveness Survey, with your theme being that the future is changing, and it was as if you were saying that if we do not act now, the world will pass Malta by. Am I correct?
Yes, in the sense that it is a fastpaced world. If you look at what we spoke about last year at FINTECH, which is finance and technology, you’ll see that we’ve been saying this for about 18 months. There’s a lot of good already in Malta, but other countries are moving more quickly to adapt their business models to the changing technology. I think Malta could be faster in terms of adapting its regulations to suit companies in the technology sector. I think we can act faster and that there is a lot of opportunity out there.
I think size is less important in the technology industry compared to others. If you are looking at manufacturing plants, which require a lot of people, then Malta
I am not an education expert myself. What we are saying is that people are not finding the right human resources for what they need. I firmly believe in workplacement programmes. The Maltese labour force is good, but from my personal experience I have noticed that we just need to learn to communicate better. In schools, maybe we need to get people more open and confident and this needs to be done quickly, as the world will not wait for us.
Even when it comes to technology, we can invest more in getting people used to the 21st century. It’s all about upgrading.
At the EY attractiveness conference you announced a think-tank that would focus on economic strategy. Can you tell me more about this?
This is all an evolution. Last year we identified five areas on which we said Malta should focus. There was FINTECH – logistics, commodities, etc., and in order to gain more insight we organised focus groups. So for logistics, a number of operators met four or five times at the office as a result of which we drew up a report. We eventually did this for each section. For logistics, we submitted our proposals to the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, and it set up a new Logistics Section. We said that this was basically an informal ‘think-tank’, so this year let’s organise it properly from the start. The three sections this year were technology, education and infrastructure.
We were concerned about feedback and participation because those involved do not get anything out of it – it was more for the greater good, so-to-speak. However, I was surprised by the high level of participation – they are not getting paid for it: people come and share ideas and participate.
I can’t avoid mentioning the 15 per cent plunge in the belief on the part of foreign direct investors in Malta’s political, legal and regulatory environment. Is this down to the Panama Papers scandal? How would you explain it?
I don’t know. We carried out the survey, and it gave us the picture that Malta remained attractive and that this had increased over the