Fabian Demicoli

GRTU Executive Council meets Hon Robert Arrigo, Opposition Spokesman for SMEs and the Self-Employed

In a meeting with the Opposition represented by its SMEs Spokesman Hon Robert Arrigo, GRTU President Paul Abela reiterated commitment to maintain an open and healthy relationship with both Government and the Opposition as it had done in the past. Abela explained how GRTU, as the chamber representing SMEs and self-employed, benefitted from funnelling its proposals and concerns to legislators to ensure that these are kept au currant with the priorities of GRTU’s members when policy is being prepared and implemented.

Hon Arrigo acknowledged GRTU’s important role in putting forward the interests of SMEs and self-employed in policy-making. This sector represented the vast majority of Maltese economic operators and their representation in decision-making fora was of essence. Hon Arrigo explained how the fact that he himself is coming from the business sector can serve to provide a stronger bridge between GRTU’s interest and policymakers. He explained how the Opposition would be ready to put forward proposals even in Parliament where social partners were of concern. The Opposition’s role was to become an alternative government and therefore needed to keep a constant relationship with major social partners such as GRTU in order to be able to build its policies around their concerns and priorities.

Hon. Arrigo elaborated on a number of ideas that the Opposition is preparing as part of its vision for the economy. The Opposition, he said, was pro-business and would be putting forward proposals that encourage an environment where everyone can work and business to prosper.

The GRTU council discussed a number of concerns touching upon the various sectors of industry which GRTU represents. Paul Abela explained how GRTU was involving itself in the discussions on the WEEE Directive which Malta is obliged to implement and which is to replace the Eco-Contribution Tax. The way the implementation would affect businesses needed to be studied closely to ensure that Maltese businesses catering for specific sectors would not suffer.

Other main areas of discussion raised included problems related to access to finance for small businesses whereby Maltese businesses do not find the necessary avenues in terms of resources to support them in growing or surviving through a difficult phase despite the provisions of the Small Business Act. Administrative procedures which lay unnecessary burdens on small businesses also remain a recurrent problem over the years whereby the public service or public agencies do not understand the implications of excessive bureaucracy on the self-employed or small business. GRTU council members also emphasized on the need to tackle unfair competition which puts genuine Maltese business, particularly in retail, at a disadvantage.

In this sense, both GRTU and Hon Arrigo agreed on the need towards taking on the necessary next steps to educate and implement a stronger digital approach in our business models. Despite a strong ICT infrastructure Malta still suffers in economic uptake of digital means through various sectors of industry. Businesses need to be supported to be able to shift towards a strong and constant online presence that can help them compete within the online market.

 

 

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