Fabian Demicoli

Increasing enterprise competitiveness and removal of barriers essential for SME expansion into the internal market

GRTU was the co-organiser of an event together with MEP Miriam Dalli entitled ‘How to thrive in an EU environment’. The highlight of the event was the participation of European Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, responsible for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, who’s participation was also facilitated by Dr Dalli.

The event was a very good exercise of direct interaction with the 

Commission where entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to express their views on what obstacles they encounter and the challenges they are struggling with.

GRTU CEO Abigail Psaila Mamo said that the GRTU had always been in favour of EU accession because the Maltese market is very limited and Maltese entrepreneurs need the internal market of 500 million consumers to expand in. In order to penetrate the single market Maltese businesses need to be competitive, they need encouragement and they need the process to be simple, with the least red tape possible. We need to help SMEs see the opportunities and that going outside their comfort zone is worthwhile. 

The CEO emphasised that we first need to start by tackling our challenges at home because these are holding our SMEs back. Our public procurement system is extremely complicated and a barrier to both Maltese and EU small businesses. High electricity prices as well as the cost of access to finance are reducing our enterprises’ competitiveness. We also need to conquer the challenges posed by the Digital Economy and make the think small first principle a reality. These are all challenges we need to overcome and we need the EU to help us with.

During her speech Dr Miriam Dalli stressed that Microenterprises in general have contributed significantly to help the European and the Maltese economy grow. Their contribution is not limited solely to the economic sphere. Microenterprises play an important role in social development, in reducing unemployment, particularly among persons previously unemployed and in investing in human capital. We want to make sure that our local microenterprises manage to prosper in the EU. Their success is our country’s success.

Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna stressed the importance of a stable macro-economic environment and the removal of excessive bureaucracy as essential elements for micro-enterprises to succeed. He stressed that excessive bureaucracy is indeed a major obstacle to economic growth, and addressing such inefficiencies is a challenge in itself. Prof. Scicluna also remarked that micro-enterprises are the most vulnerable business ventures, yet one of the major economic players in the country.

Commissioner Bienkowska congratulated Malta and especially Maltese SMEs and microenterprises on their performance during the economic crisis. Ms Bienkowska addressed the floor on their comments and questions and said that she appreciated having direct feedback on what is and is not working. She said that there is more the Commission wants to do on issues such as late payments because the EU’s initiatives when implemented are sometimes watered down and become ineffective. She invited participants to inform the Commission formally of their issues.

 

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