12 January 2005

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A new year offers new opportunities

One opportunity that should definitely not be missed is the realisation of foreign investment. Such investment does not develop by chance, it requires focus, attention and initiative.
The first reality that needs to be addressed is why foreigners feel Malta is no longer an ideal location for investment. The competitive, bureaucratic and tax measures are usually at the heart of each and every decision taken by an investor, creator and business enterprise.
The central body responsible for investment has been and is Malta Enterprise. In the last weeks investors who have spoken to this newspaper have complained of bureaucracy and red tape from a body which is supposedly ordained with the precise function of enticing and facilitating investment - both local and foreign. This is sad observation.
As is the case, the stories recounted to this newspaper would be impossible to digest were it not for the fact that they are repeated not by one, but by several individuals.
The authorities lack not only leadership and vision, they lack a compass with which to steer their way ahead beyond the different regimes that make the setting up of a business in Malta a nightmare.
Just look at the Malta’s industrial estates and what do you see?
It is untrue that investment fails to materialise because of unions or the local political climate. The main concern is the lack of understanding and competence of the units that are meant to deal with prospective investors.
For years now we have been retold the stories of policies aimed at galvanising investment in Malta and Gozo.
Yet the statistics speak for themselves - the number of new ventures that have eyed Malta is on a downward curve.
There are functional problems which need to be ironed out. With a staff complement of under 100, Malta Enterprise needs to get its act together, and its priorities too, very fast.
It needs to liase and have working synergies with all the Maltese embassies around Europe, the US and Australia. The embassies could start operating as commercial centres instead of simple abodes for ageing political appointees.
The authorities tasked with attracting foreign direct investment need to have an aggressive group of marketing professionals and an efficient administrative unit with a carte blanche to open doors and fast track all potential investment opportunities.
Discussions must be held with the banking sector to encourage venture capital investment.
If there was ever proof of the authorities’ lack of vision, this year’s awards ceremony is it. There is no argument over whether the companies crowned with the awards are both serious and efficient companies. However, the companies awarded should have been new, small companies with the potential to grow and diversify - not established companies that have long called Malta home.
Malta Enterprise and the authorities need to be challenged to wake up to the new age.
We are afraid we do not see this happening.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | E-mail