An­ton Borg, Pres­i­dent of the Malta Cham­ber of Com­merce

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

“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.

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