Anton Borg, President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce
“Our proposals for Budget 2017 are focused on two overarching priorities, namely the continued consolidation of public finances, and enhancing the many factors that contribute towards competitiveness, such as energy costs, adequate labour supply and transport.
More specifically, the Chamber has proposed the need for another general reduction for commercial energy tariffs or alternative measures to reduce the cost burden currently faced by business operators, more specifically the manufacturing sector.”
In relation to the labour market, the Chamber is advocating more initiatives similar to recent Making Work Pay schemes which, nevertheless, are not enough and the Chamber is requesting for a holistic skills gap analysis coupled with the necessary updates to our curriculum. We are also recommending recognition of foreigners as vital human resources which is significantly contributing to our present economic performance. We have therefore requested simpler and more efficient processes for non-EU nationals to obtain work and residency permits.
Mr Borg said the current positive economic growth should not give us any sense of comfort as we are still operating in a very “turbulent” climate. “The Chamber is still advocating for proper fiscal and public finance consolidation and that our current buoyant momentum should not in any way be taken for granted. Surely, what the Chamber does not expect is policies or measures that can shock the economy or are implemented without prior consultation.”
The acute traffic situation, he said, is negatively impacting daily lives, the economy in terms of lost productivity and decreased competitiveness and the environment. “We appreciate that there is no quick-fix solution to the problem; nevertheless, we have suggested, among other things, long-term solutions. These include feasibility studies on alternative modes of transport and more short-term measures in terms of incentivising the use of public transport, sea transport, car sharing, more online services, incentives to schools to offer extracurricular activities on their premises and the initiation of national discussions to stagger opening hours within the public service.