The economic and social report on Malta announced last month by the European Commission has been discussed at a conference, with the participation – among others – of the Deputy Secretary General of the European Commission. The conference also tackled trends in the Maltese economy and the challenges it faces.
The argument was made during the conference that these challenges can be overcome if Malta continues to receive European financing through cohesion funds.
Two senior officials from the European Commission took part in the presentation about the Commission’s report on Malta which tackles economic and social aspects.
During the conference, which was organised by the European Commission representation in Malta, the Director within the Directorate General on the Economy and Finance Benjamin Angel stated that economic growth of 6.2% experienced by Malta last year surprised the European Commission. Angel said this growth was nearly the same as that of China.
Malta, Angel added, still has a number of challenges it has to address. “There are clearly the need in Malta for further investment to try to alleviate the road congestion that you have at the moment, in waste management, in skills and skilling of the people where Malta scores quite poorly when compared to the EU average in this field, we also flagged issues with the sustainability of the pensions.”
The Head of the European Commission representation in Malta, Dr Elena Grech, stated that in the Commission’s view, Malta had made great progress, which has to be sustained. “The Commission’s forecasts are that this growth will perforce reduce slightly until it stabilises, but the Commission is impressed with Malta’s acquisitions through its economic growth.”
Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Aaron Farrugia stated that the challenges outlined by the Commission can be tackled through cohesion funds for the next seven years. “We are therefore convincing with our arguments that Malta needs more investment, more European funds.”
Some points mentioned in the report about money laundering and corruption were also raised, with the Commission’s Deputy Secretary General Celine Gauer saying Malta has not done enough in the fight against corruption.
In reference to this, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said Government is strengthening the regulatory authorities through 47 measures to be implemented over a three-year span. “The FIAU has a plan which the European Banking Authority is accepting and is happy with, the the MFSA has to do the same.”
Minister Scicluna said Government is committed to ensure economic growth is spread over all the economy and will be felt by all Maltese citizens.