MIA holds 9th SME Fo­rum

The Malta Business Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

The fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of Malta’s econ­omy re­quires sus­tain­able SMEs. The 2018 SME Fo­rum, or­gan­ised by the Malta In­sti­tute of Ac­coun­tants, dis­cussed growth op­por­tu­ni­ties in the digital rev­o­lu­tion.

Held on 25 May at the In­terCon­ti­nen­tal Ho­tel in St Ju­lian’s, this was the ninth edi­tion of the fo­rum and saw the par­tic­i­pa­tion of en­trepreneurs, pro­fes­sion­als work­ing in the field, as well as peo­ple in­ter­ested in start­ing up mi­cro-en­ter­prises.

“The Malta In­sti­tute of Ac­coun­tants has, over the years, em­pow­ered and will con­tinue to sup­port SMEs and SMPs in Malta to be­come more pro­fes­sional, eth­i­cal and bet­ter equipped to face the chal­leng­ing times ahead," said MIA pres­i­dent Wil­liam Spi­teri Bai­ley in his open­ing speech.

An out­stand­ing line-up of speak­ers ad­dressed the fo­rum, delv­ing into dif­fer­ent re­al­i­ties fac­ing SMEs in the com­ing years. Cen­tral Bank Eco­nom­ics chief of­fi­cer, Dr Aaron G. Grech, said that SMEs re­main the back­bone of Malta’s per­form­ing econ­omy: “SMEs, rather than big­ger firms, have cre­ated most of re­cent growth; a healthy trend as de­pen­dence on SMEs make the econ­omy more diver­si­fied and less sus­cep­ti­ble to shocks."

Joseph Portelli, chair­man of the Malta Stock Ex­change, said that qual­ity of ad­mis­sion is cru­cial and re­vealed the MSE is cur­rently im­ple­ment­ing stricter ad­mis­sion rules to make it eas­ier for el­i­gi­ble com­pa­nies to be there but harder for those that should not.

Among other dis­tin­guished guests, Prof. Alex­iei Dingli pre­sented the gen­er­a­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth in dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies such as Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence, the Cloud, Blockchain, The In­ter­net of Things and Big Data. SMEs can take ad­van­tage of this emerg­ing wave of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion that is trans­form­ing the way busi­ness is done.

This ninth edi­tion of the SME Fo­rum co­in­cided with the com­ing-to-ef­fect of the GDPR across the EU and par­tic­i­pants had the unique op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand the im­pli­ca­tions of these reg­u­la­tions for SMEs.

A spe­cial ses­sion was led by David Cauchi, head of Com­pli­ance within the Of­fice of the In­for­ma­tion and Data Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner where Dr Bo­rana Hima from Grant Thornton Malta and Alan Alden from Kyte Con­sul­tants Ltd an­swered spe­cific and prac­ti­cal ques­tions of en­trepreneurs and pro­fes­sion­als.

The pres­i­dent of the Malta Em­ploy­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, Dolores Sam­mut Bon­nici, spoke about changes in the work­force land­scape and their ef­fects on em­ploy­ers. "The prospects of not hav­ing enough skilled em­ploy­ees have turned em­ploy­ers into ed­u­ca­tors. There are va­can­cies which can­not be filled at all levels. This is hin­der­ing all em­ploy­ers in Malta."

The fo­rum of­fered SMEs prac­ti­cal help in im­por­tant ar­eas for en­trepreneurs, in­clud­ing ac­cess to fi­nance. René Sal­iba, chair­man of the Malta De­vel­op­ment Bank, said that the bank was cre­ated to fill an in­sti­tu­tional gap: “Our pur­pose is to com­ple­ment, sup­ple­ment and col­lab­o­rate with other banks to see that in­vest­ments go through."

Busi­ness First CEO, Marika Tonna ex­plained the up­com­ing projects by the agency: “Our next step is to achieve an in­ter­ac­tive por­tal for run­ning a busi­ness."

Ad­dress­ing the spe­cific needs of a fam­ily- run busi­ness, Dr Sarah Rausi from Fenech & Fenech de­liv­ered an ex­pert anal­y­sis of the dif­fer­ent modes of trans­fer and the re­lated tax­a­tion law.

Noel De­bono from Bank of Val­letta dis­cussed the theme of man­age­ment within the con­text of SMEs.

The CEO of the Malta In­sti­tute of Ac­coun­tants, Maria Cauchi Delia said that this suc­cess­ful edi­tion con­firmed the SME Fo­rum as one of the land­mark events for small to medium en­trepreneurs and pro­fes­sion­als in Malta, in line with the Malta In­sti­tute of Ac­coun­tants’ prom­ise to sus­tain the growth of SMEs.

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