14 NOVEMBER 2001
Edwin Vassallo, Parliamentary Secretary in the Economic Services Ministry with the brief of overseeing SMEs and the self-employed, on Monday highlighted the new system of trading licenses currently being passed through parliament.
The new licensing system will see those offering a service outside the confines of a commercial premises being obliged to register themselves with the licensing authority.
Accordingly, Mr Vassallo explains, that those applying for a trading licence would be required to have a level of competence that would enable him to carry out the business and that those working from a commercial premises would also have to be duly competent and registered with the licensing authority.
He explains, "These provisions have been designed to ensure that the sector is delivering a quality product or service and would help in weeding out those that I call the cowboys, those that are here today but gone tomorrow, those who give the commercial community a bad name."
The Bill, which at the moment is being discussed at Committee Stage in Parliament, seeks to offer the opportunity to the commercial community to better organise itself.
Through the Bill, all those carrying out commercial activities will be registered and the level of competence of the enterprise will be known. Such a set up would not only ensure better consumer satisfaction and protection, but would also serve to protect the genuine businesspersons themselves from the charlatans. The new act will also provide for the removal of red tape in the processing of licence applications and will also curb, as much as possible, the ongoings of the black economy.
"When we talk of a free economy, of a liberalised market, we are not referring to a state of anarchy where everyone will do as he pleases! We need to create a structure of regulations that are enough to make the surroundings in which our businessmen operate manageable and are not of a burden.
"These are regulations that are meant to create a fair and competitive atmosphere for all. From the regulation of shops opening hours to the issue of the trading licences and the registration of service providers, these are all subjects that will be looked at and revising but these will not be abolished or eliminated.
"I believe in organisations and I believe in being organised. We cannot tolerate persons who think that they can do whatever they like, disregarding the rest. Our country, indeed the whole world, is going through a time of interesting changes. Here in Malta, we have introduced a number of new legislations with the scope of improving our level of business, our products, our services and our economy and making all of these competitive and compatible with circumstances elsewhere.
"We are restructuring our country and our economy so that we will not fall behind the rest of the world in an economy that is getting more and more global and where national frontiers keep getting thinner."
Mr Vassallo also highlighted The Multiannual Programme for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, a programme specifically designed for and aimed at SMEs. The programme intends to promote entrepreneurship as a valuable and productive life skill, based on customer orientation and a stronger culture of service; to encourage a regulatory and business environment that takes account of sustainable development, and in which research, innovation and entrepreneurship can flourish; to improve the financial environment for SMEs; to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs in the knowledge-based economy and to ensure that business support networks and services to enterprises are provided and co-ordinated.