PRESS RELEASE: MALTA BUSINESS AWARDS: “An opportunity to showcase unique initiatives”

Last few days remaining. Application submission deadline is on Sunday 25th of September

The first edition of the Malta Business Awards, announced earlier this month, is nearing the end of its first phase, with applications being accepted until Sunday the 25th of September at 23:59 (CET)

The Malta Chamber of SMEs and Malta Enterprise are working together to organise this first edition of the Malta Business Awards.

The CEO of the Malta Chamber of SMEs, Ms. Abigail Agius Mamo, said that the Malta Business Awards are a platform for business celebration. The Malta Business Awards, according to Ms. Agius Mamo, are an opportunity for businesses to showcase great initiative in a variety of themes of high importance for all today, including the social and environmental.  Businesses are sometimes portrayed in a negative light, but in reality, there are more businesses that take positive initiatives and these rarely make headlines. The Malta Business Awards will not only present an award of recognition but will also give visibility to unique initiatives taken by businesses with the aim of generating more good and inspiring others.

Following the submission deadline of Sunday, September 25 and an evaluation by an impartial panels, the finalists will be revealed on October 10th. The winners will be revealed at the Gala Night, which will take place on Friday, October 28, at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta. Numerous businesses have submitted applications for one of the 24 awards since the launch of the awards.

Businesses can submit their application themselves or they can even be nominated by third parties. Applications are open until the 25th of September 23:59 (CET) on www.maltabusinessawards.mt.

Malta Chamber of SMEs positively welcomes measure aimed at addressing banking issues

The Malta Chamber of SMEs has been very vociferous in pushing for the improvement and the accessibility of banking services. Multiple discussions were held with the Prime Minister, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for the Economy and the banks and their representative Association.

The SME Chamber therefore greatly welcomes the measure announced yesterday by Economy Minister Hon. Silvio Schembri, some of which come out of proposals pushed by the SME Chamber itself. The SME Chamber commends the government on prioritising this important subject, given the drastic deterioration

of the banking services and also the failures in the market functioning. This marks a very courageous move from the governments’ side in support to businesses, something the SME Chamber greatly appreciates.

Enshrining the right to a bank account to self-employed and businesses is an important basic right that is a very good step forward. It is unfortunate that escalating the matter to a level that required legislative action was needed to give businesses this basic need.

The Steering committee that has been launched is also an important tool to define a common due diligence process so as to ensure consistency. Whilst the SME Chamber is in favour of having a robust and rigorous process, the Malta Chamber of SMEs maintains its position that businesses should not be overburdened with what is unnecessary, therefore much fine-tuning is required in that respect. The process should also run efficiently and automated as far as possible. Additionally clear timeframes must be set to avoid undue delay, and provide better guidance to all stakeholders.

The SME Chamber looks forward to seeing these measure implemented for the benefit of Malta as a whole and to ensure a fair and adequate eco-system for businesses to operate in Malta.

The Malta Chamber of SMEs will continue its work with the stakeholders involved to achieve further advancement in this respect.

 

 

Malta Chamber of SMEs congratulates Dr Robert Abela on being elected Prime Minister of Malta

DR ROBERT ABELA WAS ELECTED FOLLOWING LAST SATURDAY’S GENERAL ELECTION

Following last Saturday’s election and today’s swearing-in of Dr Robert Abela as Prime Minister of Malta, the Malta Chamber of SMEs extends its congratulations and looks forward to continue working closely for this coming legislature.

Throughout the past 2 years Prime Minister Robert Abela always had an open channel of communication with the SME Chamber. The SME Chamber and Prime Minister have been working side by side during some of the hardest times our country has ever experienced for the benefit of the economy at large. We now look forward to continue building on this positive experience during the next five years.

The Malta Chamber of SMEs also congratulates all candidates on being elected as Members of Parliament.

Malta Chamber of SMEs welcomes pledge to address compliance and banking bottlenecks for SMEs

The Malta Chamber of SMEs believes that the implementation phase of these proposals is key in order to achieve the desired results

The immense bureaucratic burden and impossible situations businesses have been facing in relation to access to banking services and compliance have only become more serious and counterproductive over the last years.

The Malta Chamber of SMEs has been highlighting its concern on the situation and how this was harming businesses and our economy. The SME Chamber was never against putting in place the required checks and balances. Over-regulation and burdening SMEs with the inability to work and waste of precious resources was never the answer, or a solution to any problem our country was facing. Access to banking services and the issue of the repetition of compliance exercises were main budget proposals from the side of the Malta Chamber of SMEs and we are therefore pleased to see them being taken up.

Apart from this, the SME Chamber also asked the government to intervene to protect corporate bank clients from the abuse of dominant position, from unfair treatment and the imposition of unjustified costs and charges. The SME Chamber still believes that while the cost of banking services is increasing exponentially, the quality of the service is not only not being elevated at par but continues going down in quality. Therefore, while paying much more for basic banking functions, SMEs are many times greatly unhappy with the level of service being given by the major banks. Regulatory surveillance and protection in this area is evidently missing.

The commitment made yesterday by the Prime Minister to give access to banking services to all businesses and centralise all compliance efforts across the country are greatly welcome. The Malta Chamber of SMEs also notes the positive remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in this regard. The Prime Minister’s commitment initiates a principle and a very important step to address Malta’s failures in the banking sector and give businesses guaranteed banking support.

The Prime Minister is also confirming that the compliance burden on businesses will not be removed but will be alleviated, as it should be. The Malta Chamber of SMEs believes that the implementation phase of these proposals is key in order to achieve the desired results.

The SME Chamber will continue supporting the business community and those implementing these important steps throughout this phase and will also continue working to have a healthy banking sector in Malta.

ANNUAL SURVEY: Businesses report improvement in 2021, positive outlook for 2022; SME Chamber presents 5 proposals to mitigate inflation

SME CHAMBER PROPOSES TO REDUCE THE VAT RATE FROM 18% TO 15.5%

A study conducted by the Malta Chamber of SMEs among 250 business owners  shows that 44% of SMEs in Malta expected their business to fare better this year.

The survey was carried out between the 10th and 27th of January amongst business owners. 17% replied that 2022 will be worse than 2021 while 39% replied that 2022 will be the same as 2021.

The press conference was addressed by SME Chamber Vice-President Mr Marcel Mizzi, Deputy President Mr Philip Fenech and CEO Ms Abigail Agius Mamo.

 According to the Business performance survey, businesses reported a better 2021 over 2020 but it was nowhere close to 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Asked about their biggest concerns for the year, businesses said they were seriously concerned about the increases in costs, the prolonged uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the uncertainty created by the impending general election.

In terms of financial constraints, businesses biggest concerns were sales levels, cash flow, problems with collecting payments, employee wages, banking issues and repaying deferred taxes.

Several businesses reported that they have suffered a difficulty in performance due to quarantine rules, as 13% reported that 30% or more of their employees were out at one go due to quarantine.

38% of the respondents remained neutral on whether they were satisfied with the overall business sales in the first few weeks of 2022. 20% and 15% responded being dissatisfied and very dissatisfied respectively. Despite this, an overwhelming 44% of the respondents believe that 2022 will have better results than 2021, factoring in better control of the pandemic and increased consumer confidence. 

Click here to download full survey results

During the same press conference, the Malta Chamber of SMEs has presented 5 key proposals that will address the biggest challenges facing our economy and businesses during 2022:

  • Eliminate Excise Tax on Consumer goods such as Water, Non-Alcoholic Beverages and Toiletries. Eliminating this invisible tax imposed by our policy makers would leave Eur 5 Million in the pockets of local consumers during 2022, according to government budget estimates.

  • Reduce the VAT rate from 18% to 15.5%. While safeguarding Government’s income, this measure would ensure that the Government would not be gaining out of the calculation of the VAT percentage on the inflationary increases. This leaves the difference in VAT in the pockets of consumers and businesses.

  • Reduce quarantine leave, in accordance to the recommendation by the CDC, to 5 days for positive cases only. This would be followed by 5 days of mask wearing.

  • Facilitate the employment of TCNs from countries that have a positive track record in terms of visa acceptance. The engagement of TCNs should be centrally administered by the government and fast tracked.

  • Malta to lobby in favour of harmonised travel rulesin order to increase the level of confidence in travelling for private and corporate clients.

Press Release: SME Chamber augurs for stability for the well-functioning and advancement of the Education sector

SME Chamber and its members look forward to experiencing it being led with the seriousness and commitment that is required and expected

The Malta Chamber of SMEs, in representation of a number of sectors directly dependent and affected by the Ministry for Education, amongst which licensed private educational institutions, wishes to pass on its congratulations to the new Minister Hon.Clifton Grima and Permanent Secretary Mr. Matthew Vella.

While auguring them all the success in their new role, the SME Chamber and its members assure them with their cooperation and commitment to drive the private education sector forward.

It must unfortunately be said that the Ministry has been marred by a lot of turbulence and this has made work and collaboration extremely difficult, with energy and initiative not achieving the desired results. Education is the most important pillar on which our society and our economy is built on.

As such, the SME Chamber and its members look forward to experiencing it being led with the seriousness and commitment that is required and expected. This will enhance the quality in this sector and we are fully committed to contribute in this regard.

The Malta Chamber of SMEs has full faith in the capabilities of the new Minister and Permanent Secretary. It is important that our policy makers at large invest in full in supporting the stability in this Ministry as its functions are crucial.

The Malta Chamber of SMEs firmly believes that both Hon. Dr. Clifton Grima and Mr.Matthew Vella are more than capable with improving the education state of affairs in Malta. Both Dr. Grima and Mr. Vella have always kept an open line of communication and closely collaborated with the SME Chamber with the aim of finding a workable solution for issues faced.

PRESS RELEASE: Green MT continues to deliver and make the environment a priority despite the challenges

Malta Chamber of SME’s Green MT is a private entity specifically set up 15 years ago to help businesses in complying with the many environmental obligations. Rather than leave it up to the Government to create state owned solutions, or through ECO taxes which would both be expensive and wasteful, the Chamber had decided to create its own scheme. Green MT has been working hard against all odds to implement the EU’s “the polluter pays principle” since the first Packaging Directive. After all these years the waste sector continues to be difficult and problematic. Under different administrations and individuals responsible for the waste sector, there never was a quick fix solution and there is none now. Green MT has throughout continued supporting the business community to meet their obligations and has been providing uninterrupted services across Local Councils got the past 15 years in spite of countless hurdles.

As private citizens we all need to do our bit. Although we have seen the public steadily taking up the challenges to separate waste, clearly, we still have a long way ahead. We must continue relentlessly to safeguard the environment for future generations. The underlying themes highlighted in the COP26 conference are the principles Malta must strive to keep in focus. It is abbunduntly clear that we are already at the point of no return. We must act now and without further delays. Each and every one of us has a role to play but without cooperation and a joint effort little will be achieved.

Green MT therefore reiterates that despite these challenges it will continue to work hand in hand with the business community, households and the various authorities. It will continue educating, encouraging and incentivising to cause change in the right direction to ascertain that only recyclables reach Wasteserv MRF Facility.

Policy makers are key coordinators to the overall strategy and as such Green MT will be meeting and cooperating  with Hon Aaron Farrugia as the responsible Minister, WasteServ and ERA in order to achieve overall better results. WasteServ’s approach to paying only for recyclables received at their facility is supported by Green MT.

The Chamber of SMEs and Green MT appeals to the general public and the business community to care and to take own responsibility and safeguard the future of the generations to come by doing their bit in separating at home and the workplace. From the waste Green MT collects, Green MT is aware that there is significant room for improvement in how individuals deal with waste and this is a main area where its efforts will be invested.

Most serious approach expected in Rfp process for the National Lottery

Many livelihoods depend on the well-functioning of the concession agreement

The Lotto Receivers Union (LRU) and the Gaming and Lotteries Agents Association (GLAA), both part of the Malta Chamber of SMEs, emphasise, as direct stakeholders in the National Lottery system, how important it is to ensure the highest standards in governance and diligence in the evaluation process that will choose the next concessionaire.

The last concession lasted 10 years and therefore once the bidder is confirmed a long-term track record is expected. The concession is a contract of significant importance, with tens of millions in commitment, and therefore there is no room for error.

Lotto Agents have been present since the very beginning of the process, when the National Lottery was still directly run by the then Public Lotto, well before it was issued in the form of a concession, some ten years ago. Till today over 210 Lotto Receivers and Sellers, 465 seller assistants and their families depend on this concession for their livelihoods.

In the run up to the concession the LRU, the GLAA and the SME Chamber have presented proposals to the government with the aim of learning and improving on the past experience and we are pleased to note that the Rfp reflects a number of important improvements. An important point highlighted in the proposals is to give significant weight to the seriousness and repute of the bidders and for these to have an already proven track record.

In Malta’s situation, the country does not afford mistakes and the life of businesses has already become overly difficult due to the impact of the FATF Greylisting and the AML requirements. The government must do everything in its power to ensure that the sector is not overshadowed by additional bad light and that choices are based on a healthy functioning sector.

Press Release: Pharmacies opening on Sunday

The Chamber of SME’s will continue consulting its members

The Chamber of SME’s, along with the Chamber of Pharmacies, have been in discussions with Government to enhance the Pharmacy Service even on Sundays.

This is no easy task. There are large logistical and other costs involved, and any enhancement of the service must take this into account. There is also a human cost in the equation to consider.

It is a known fact that the pharmacy service in Malta is one of the best, however, times change, and necessary tweaking is essential in order to improve an already excellent service.

The Chamber of SME’s will continue consulting its members and work towards an equitable solution that will ensure a fair compromise.