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Communications on beneficial owners: increasingly severe sanctions for offenders

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For almost three years, Maltese law has obliged companies to keep and transmit adequate, accurate and up-to-date information on their beneficial owners. Since its entry into force, this duty has become so established and entrenched that company owners (direct or indirect, foreign or local) or their officials who do not comply with these measures risk incurring heavy penalties, aggravated by factors such as intentionality and premeditated deception. In the most serious cases, the penalty may even be imprisonment.

Unless all shareholders of a company are natural persons acting in their own name and appearing on the Malta Companies Register (MBR) lists, or the Maltese company itself is listed on a regulated market as described in the law, compliance with the Beneficiaries Act is a must.

But let’s see what the latest news in this regard. Since June 2020, companies are also required to pay an annual fee to contribute to the collection of data and supervisory operations by the public body.

The maximum penalties provided for by law for non-compliance, moreover, after having been contained in an initial phase, have gradually increased, now reaching completely relevant thresholds. The maximum daily penalty for each day of delay, until the non-compliance is remedied, has risen from 10 to 100 euros. While an unintentional delay in filing a form for a fortnight could cost the company up to 6,300 euros.

There is also the sanction that could be imposed by the Malta Registrar of Companies if it finds a discrepancy between the records on beneficiaries transmitted by a company and those kept internally by the company itself. In this case the factor of voluntariness emerges, and the maximum threshold set for this sanction has increased from 10,000 to 100,000 euros.

Companies that existed before the entry into force of these rules (before 2018), which did not comply with the new rules when the initial moratorium expired, and which are still in default, are subject to a daily penalty of up to €500, plus a maximum of €10,000.

Finally, the maximum lump sum penalty for late filing and failure to keep documents has increased from 1,000 to 5,000 euros.

It is hoped that these penalties will discourage those who want to deceive or mislead the public administration on this front. And that they can enhance Malta’s image of legality in the eyes of the world after difficult years.

But there is also the problem of excessive sanctions compared to what could be mere oversight. For this reason it is advisable not to take these obligations under advisement and, in case of doubts or difficulties, to rely on the advice of a professional. The Malta Business Agency staff is also at your complete disposal on this matter.

The 2021 Renewable Energy System Scheme

As promised on the occasion of the presentation of the 2021 Budget, the Maltese Government has launched the Renewable Energy System (RES) Scheme, which is administered by the Regulator for Energy and Water Services to further encourage the better use of the renewable energy being generated by the country.

This scheme is funded through national funds and applies to private individuals (natural persons) for use on their residential properties, and for organisations that are not carrying out an economic activity, provided that photovoltaic installation should have no active feed-in tariff allocation. If the photovoltaic installation was allocated a feed-in tariff, the guaranteed period should be expired.

This scheme was launched by means of Government Notice 298 of 2021.

The 2021 RES scheme is slightly different form past PV schemes as it will be incorporating different technologies under one scheme. Basically, the scheme will be split into the following options:

Option A – PV system with standard solar inverter.
Option B – PV system with hybrid inverter.
Option C – Hybrid/battery inverter and battery.
Option D – Battery storage only.

Applicants can only apply for one option with the exception of Option B whereby an applicant may also apply for Option D.

For option C only (Inverter plus battery), the inverter must be rated for the size of total kWp of the existing photovoltaic modules. As such systems where the ratio of inverter nominal ac power at standard testing conditions (STC) is lower than 0.8 times the array nominal power shall not be eligible for the grant.

For options A and B, the minimum system size is 1kWp and for Options C and D the minimum storage size is 2kWh.

In addition to the above, a standard minimum of 10 years warranty will be requested on all options.

As you may be aware, prior to submission of applications, all equipment has to be registered with REWS. In this regard, please note that Government Notice 52 of 2010 was amended to cater for the registration of Energy Storage Systems and now REWS is accepting applications for registration of equipment that meets the following standards:

– Lead Acid Batteries shall be certified to EN 61056-1-2, BS EN 60896-11, 21 and 22 as applicable or an equivalent thereof when so considered by the Standards and Metrology Institute within the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority;

– The lithium-ion shall be certified to IEC 62619 as applicable or an equivalent thereof when so considered by the Standards and Metrology Institute within the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority;

– Flow batteries shall be certified to BS EN 62932-1-2 as applicable, or an equivalent thereof when so considered by the Standards and Metrology Institute within the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority;

Applications for registration of technology can be accepted prior to the launch of the scheme. To access the funds ask the Malta Business Agency team for support by filling in the following contact form.

Fitch affirms Malta at A+, outlook stable

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Fitch Ratings has affirmed Malta’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘A+’ with a Stable Outlook.

A full list of rating actions is at the end of this rating action commentary.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

Ratings Strengths and Weaknesses: Malta’s rating is supported by high per-capita income levels, a large net external creditor position and a pre-pandemic record of strong growth and sizeable debt reduction. These strengths are balanced against its large banking sector, the small size of its economy, which is highly vulnerable to external developments, and a recent deterioration in public finances with large fiscal deficits, which have led to a sharp increase in the moderate public debt burden.

Strong Economic Recovery but Outlook Weakens: The Maltese economy rebounded strongly in 2021, following a severe contraction in 2020. Real GDP rose by 9.4% in 2021, significantly exceeding our November forecast of 5.7%. Fitch has lowered its growth forecast to 4.2% from 6.1% for 2022 due to the stronger-than-expected 2021 recovery and (mostly) indirect effects from the invasion of Ukraine and imposed sanctions on Russia. Malta’s direct economic and energy ties to Ukraine, Russia and Belarus are limited but, as a small and open economy, Malta is highly exposed to the weaker economic outlook in key tourism markets in the EU and the UK. However, we expect Malta’s tourism sector to further recover this year as tourist arrivals remained 65% below their 2019 level in 2021. Private consumption and services exports are projected to further increase in 2022/23, albeit more moderately compared with our previous forecast.

Government Intervention Limits Price Increases: Fitch projects that inflation will reach 4.1% in 2022, largely reflecting partial adjustments in HICP weights and higher services and food prices. Maltese households have so far remained largely unaffected by a sharp increase in international wholesale gas and electricity prices due to fixed-price purchase agreements, protecting real disposable incomes and private consumption. The government remains committed to limit the increase in energy prices. Government measures to control them include sizeable subsidies to the public utility company to cover the loss from keeping electricity prices stable and a reduction in excise duties for petrol and diesel. The government is also intervening in the food market to cap the increase in wheat prices.

Sizeable Fiscal Deficits: Following a large fiscal deficit of 9.5% of GDP in 2020, Malta’s general government deficit narrowed marginally to 8% of GDP in 2021 (higher than the ‘A’ peer and eurozone current medians of 6.3% and 5.2% of GDP, respectively), despite a strong rebound in revenues. Fitch now expects a slower improvement in public finances, forecasting a fiscal deficit of 6.4% of GDP in 2022 and 5.5% in 2023, compared with our November forecast of 6.1% and 4.1%, respectively. Solid nominal GDP growth and a strong labour market will continue to support government revenues but government measures to mitigate the impact from inflation and support the economic recovery will lead to continued fiscal deficits in our baseline scenario. Pandemic-related measures will amount to EUR245 million (1.6% of GDP) in 2022 while another EUR210 million (1.4% of GDP) is budgeted to mitigate the impact from inflation on households and businesses.

Higher Public Debt: General government debt increased to 57% of GDP, in line with the ‘A’ median of 56.6%. Malta has seen one of the largest increases in public debt since 2019 among ‘A’ rated peers with debt increasing by 16.3pp over the past two years (compared with 9.2pp for ‘A’ rated sovereigns). We expect that total general government debt will further increase to above 61% in 2023. Continued fiscal deficits are partially offset by strong nominal GDP growth and negative stock-flow adjustments.

Economic Policy Continuity, Institutional Reforms: Following the re-election of Malta’s governing Labour party on 26 March, the centre-left party continues to govern alone under Malta’s two-party political system. As part of the Resilience and Recovery Plan, the government has committed to strengthening the institutional framework, including the judicial and anti-money-laundering framework, and partly address the European Commission’s concerns over the availability of aggressive tax planning practices. Malta’s World Governance Indicators (WGI) continue to outperform the ‘A’ median but perceived weaknesses in the quality of Malta’s institutions and governance framework led to a sharp deterioration in 2019/ 2020 and WGI scores only partially recovered in 2021.

FATF Greylisting: The Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) decision in June 2021 to place Malta on its so-called greylist has not yet materially affected the Maltese economy, as evidenced by the strong economic recovery and continued strong performance of the large financial sector. Following an FATF on-site visit in April this year, the FATF could vote on whether to take Malta off its greylist during its next plenary meeting in June.

Resilient Financial Sector: The Maltese household and banking sector should be relatively resilient to an increase in the ECB’s main policy rates. Fitch now expects the ECB to raise its main refinancing operations and deposit rate to 0.5% and 0%, respectively, before end-2022. Despite a prevalence of variable mortgage rate loans (93% of the total mortgage stock), Maltese households possess ample liquidity to relatively quickly pay off their debt burdens. Vulnerabilities to the financial sector are further mitigated by banks’ strong balance sheets, including solid capitalisation and low non-performing loans. The Central Bank of Malta introduced borrower-based measures to strengthen the resilience of lenders and borrowers against financial vulnerabilities back in 2019, including limits to the loan-to-value ratio and mandatory stress-testing of borrowers against an interest rate increase of 150bp.

ESG – Governance: Malta has an ESG Relevance Score (RS) of ‘5[+]’ for both Political Stability and Rights and for the Rule of Law, Institutional and Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption. Theses scores reflect the high weight that the World Bank Governance Indicators (WBGI) have in our proprietary Sovereign Rating Model. Malta has a high WBGI ranking at 79.8, reflecting its long track record of stable and peaceful political transitions, well established rights for participation in the political process, strong institutional capacity, effective rule of law and a low level of corruption.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating action/downgrade:

– Public Finances: Continued upward trend in general government debt over the medium term, for example due to a more prolonged period of fiscal stimulus, weaker growth prospects or loss of key sources of revenues.

-Structural Features: Further deterioration in governance or banking supervision or concerns over wider financial sector transparency that could adversely impact Malta’s attractiveness as an investment destination.

-Macro: Weakening of the economic recovery, for example due to a setback in the revival of tourism

Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating action/upgrade:

– Public Finances: General government debt/GDP returning to a firm downward path over the medium term, for example due to sustained economic growth and/or fiscal consolidation

– Macro: Confidence that Malta can return to sustainable high GDP growth in the medium term, supporting a convergence of GDP per capita with that of higher-rated sovereigns.

-Structural Features: Further progress in addressing key weaknesses in governance, banking supervision and the business environment.

SOVEREIGN RATING MODEL (SRM) AND QUALITATIVE OVERLAY (QO)

Fitch’s proprietary SRM assigns Malta a score equivalent to a rating of ‘A’ on the Long-Term Foreign-Currency (LT FC) IDR scale.

Fitch’s sovereign rating committee adjusted the output from the SRM to arrive at the final LT FC IDR by applying its QO, relative to SRM data and output, as follows:

– Macro: +1 notch reflecting macroeconomic performance, policies and prospects. The positive notch adjustment offsets the deterioration in the SRM output driven by volatility from the pandemic shock, including on GDP growth. The deterioration of the GDP growth and volatility variables reflects a very substantial and unprecedented exogenous shock that has hit the vast majority of sovereigns, and Fitch believes that Malta has the capacity to absorb it without lasting effects on its long-term macroeconomic stability.

Fitch’s SRM is the agency’s proprietary multiple regression rating model that employs 18 variables based on three-year centred averages, including one year of forecasts, to produce a score equivalent to a LT FC IDR. Fitch’s QO is a forward-looking qualitative framework designed to allow for adjustment to the SRM output to assign the final rating, reflecting factors within our criteria that are not fully quantifiable and/or not fully reflected in the SRM.

BEST/WORST CASE RATING SCENARIO

International scale credit ratings of Sovereigns, Public Finance and Infrastructure issuers have a best-case rating upgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a positive direction) of three notches over a three-year rating horizon; and a worst-case rating downgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a negative direction) of three notches over three years. The complete span of best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings for all rating categories ranges from ‘AAA’ to ‘D’. Best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings are based on historical performance. For more information about the methodology used to determine sector-specific best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings, visit https://www.fitchratings.com/site/re/10111579.

REFERENCES FOR SUBSTANTIALLY MATERIAL SOURCE CITED AS KEY DRIVER OF RATING

The principal sources of information used in the analysis are described in the Applicable Criteria.

ESG CONSIDERATIONS

Malta has an ESG Relevance Score of ‘5[+]’ for Political Stability and Rights as World Bank Governance Indicators have the highest weight in Fitch’s SRM and are therefore highly relevant to the rating and a key rating driver with a high weight. As Malta has a percentile rank above 50 for the respective Governance Indicator, this has a positive impact on the credit profile.

Malta has an ESG Relevance Score of ‘5[+]’ for Rule of Law, Institutional & Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption as World Bank Governance Indicators have the highest weight in Fitch’s SRM and are therefore highly relevant to the rating and are a key rating driver with a high weight. As Malta has a percentile rank above 50 for the respective Governance Indicators, this has a positive impact on the credit profile.

Malta has an ESG Relevance Score of ‘4[+]’for Human Rights and Political Freedoms as the Voice and Accountability pillar of the World Bank Governance Indicators is relevant to the rating and a rating driver. As Malta has a percentile rank above 50 for the respective Governance Indicator, this has a positive impact on the credit profile.

Malta has an ESG Relevance Score of ‘4[+]’ for Creditor Rights as willingness to service and repay debt is relevant to the rating and is a rating driver for Malta, as for all sovereigns. As Malta has track record of 20+ years without a restructuring of public debt and captured in our SRM variable, this has a positive impact on the credit profile.

Except for the matters discussed above, the highest level of ESG credit relevance, if present, is a score of ‘3’. This means ESG issues are credit-neutral or have only a minimal credit impact on the entity, either due to their nature or to the way in which they are being managed by the entity. For more information on Fitch’s ESG Relevance Scores, visit www.fitchratings.com/esg.

CETA Business Forum: registration now open

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Registration is officially open for the CETA BUSINESS FORUM, the first major online matching event aimed at companies and professionals who want to strengthen the internationalization activity and their network between Europe and Canada.

The virtual event will open on June 22, 2022 with two days of educational and informative panels, called CETA TALKS. In the meantime, participants will be able to meet in a large exhibition area dedicated to B2B meetings, which will remain active until June 30, 2022.

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This is an opportunity not to be missed to promote oneself and gain international visibility by establishing contacts and creating new opportunities for exchange and growth, both at present and in the future, to become part of a network that will remain active on a permanent basis through the CETA BUSINESS NETWORK.

The conference will take place through a digital platform able to reproduce an exhibition event at 360°, with the presence of virtual spaces for videoconferences, stands and services for the interaction between the participants.

Companies and professionals can register as visitors or join as exhibitors to take advantage of a series of services designed specifically to promote their reality. All visitors will be able to attend the CETA Talks and enter the virtual stands.

The agenda of the CETA TALKS foresees the start of the works on Thursday, June 22 at 5.00 pm, followed by a series of sectoral meetings hosted in two virtual halls dedicated to Europe and Canada.

This is the full schedule of events:

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22

  • Green Economy and Sustainability: Conference Room Europe – 6.00 pm – 6.50 pm

  • Food and Agriculture: Conference Room Europe – 7.00 pm – 8.00 pm

  • Start-ups and Young Entrepreneurs: Conference Room Canada – 6.00 pm – 6.50 pm

  • Training and Job Opportunities: Conference Room Canada – 7.00 pm – 8.00 pm

THURSDAY, JUNE 23rd

  • Public Procurement and Services: Conference room Canada – 5.00 pm – 6.00 pm

  • Women Entrepreneurs: Conference room Canada – 6.00 pm – 7.00 pm

  • Artificial Intelligence and ICT: Conference room Canada – 7.00 pm – 8.00 pm

  • Creativity and Fashion: Conference room Europe – 5.00 pm – 6.00 pm

  • Automotive and Industrial Machines: Conference room Europe – 6.00 pm – 7.00 pm

  • Fintech: Conference room Europe – 7.00 pm – 8.00 pm

This program is complemented by “Training Pills,” technical and educational sessions designed specifically to provide a thorough understanding of CETA’s implementation.

Through this rich program of talks and B2B meetings, CETA BUSINESS FORUM represents a unique opportunity to create business synergies and networking between countries and companies of the two geographical areas, to provide a platform for the exchange of experiences on the main economic trends of CETA, to know the development opportunities offered by the FTA in key economic sectors, to promote investments and to present development plans or innovative projects.

Don’t wait: reserve your place at the CETA Business Forum!

Finance leaders gathered at the ICPAC Mediterranean Finance Summit

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For the first time, THE INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS OF CYPRUS (ICPAC) held the ICPAC Mediterranean Finance Summit at the Parklane Hotel Limassol, Cyprus on the 5th – 6th of May 2022, with the partnership of Malta Business.

“It is my pleasure to address today’s audience in what is considered to be the most prestigious gathering of finance leaders and key decision makers of the year.. Finance function was associated with an ocean-liner as opposed to a speedboat – notoriously inflexible and slow to react to change. The future of finance combines the emotional intelligence of experienced financial professionals with the right technology. Don’t forget, embrace technology and sustainability and be ready to make the difference” As quoted by Pieris Markou, President at INSTITUTE OF CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS OF CYPRUS (ICPAC).

This prestigious Summit welcomed 200 local and global finance executives. The Opening Keynote Speech was delivered by Constantinos Herodotou, Governor at the Central Bank of Cyprus; Member at European Central Bank.

“ ..Our thoughts with those affected by the tragic events of the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Russia’s war against Ukraine has disrupted further the global supply chains and in-effect the growth and inflation patterns around the world.. Causing a new negative shock that is weakening the pace of the post-pandemic recovery. I call on continuing the discussion but more importantly to move from talking to doing..” as quoted by Constantinos Herodotou, Governor at the Central Bank of Cyprus; Member at European Central Bank

The scale and pace of innovation in the financial services industry presents unique opportunities and challenges.. The trends we have seen are certainly more digitalization, more online, more mobile trading platforms and we have seen the growth of sophisticated technologies like AI, blockchain, big data technologies and so on.. These trends are impacting the way that the financial services industry is functioning” As quoted by Dr. George Theocharides, Chairman at Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC).

Joined by a prestigious Speaker line-up from leading global organizations, specifically: Aon, Microsoft, ING, UBS, Deloitte, NetU, PWC, FedEx Express, Novartis, Bridgestone, Exness, EcommBX, eBOS, Cyprus Central Bank, Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), Marcolin, FCM, ICAEW, SOL Crowe who explored future visions and the latest market developments in finance, automation and digital transformation.

The ICPAC Mediterranean Finance Summit acted as a foundation for attendees to stay aligned and engaged with the future of the finance function.

“As ICPAC, we are delighted to eventually hold this Summit, as the covid restrictions deprived us of the pleasure to do it earlier. The idea of our CFO’s team behind the event served two principal purposes: To bring together finance professionals..To render Cyprus as the focal point for such a gathering in the wider Mediterranean area.. I believe that both of the above goals have been positively checked in our KPI checklist!” As quoted by Kyriakos Iordanou, General Manager of ICPAC.

The Summit was powered by Viva Wallet, the leading European cloud-based neobank with the largest footprint in Europe, delivering the future of payments, now. Among other C-level speakers, Yannis Larios, Senior VP / Strategy & Business Development at Viva Wallet, took delegates through the first Greek “unicorn’s” journey.

From start-up to neobank, they followed a bottom-up business model, connecting with local payment systems in 24 countries, developing own breakthrough technologies and cloud-based infrastructure, owning the complete value chain. “Breaking into” the local financial “castles” as he remarked, allowed Viva Wallet to offer truly unifying, yet localized, advanced digital payments solutions and customised embedded banking services. Speaking of an innovation-focused company mindset, Yannis highlighted Viva Wallet’s latest breakthrough, the “tap-on-phone Viva Wallet POS app”, that turns any Android mobile to a card terminal.

Premium Sponsors: AON, Deloitte, eBOS, NETU, EcommBX, PWC

Supporting Sponsors: Char. PILAKOUTAS Group, Hellenic Bank

Powered by: Viva Wallet

Networking Technology Partner: Covve

Media Partners: CIBA, ACB, ICAEW, ITKeyMedia, FinTech Belgium, Malta Business, Financial IT, FINTECHNA, FinTech Futures, Coinpedia, CryptoNewsZ, FinTech Weekly, ALPHA TV, ThePaypers.

Central Bank annual report: “Maltese GDP will grow by 6.0%”

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The Central Bank of Malta has released its Annual Report for 2021, including its detailed financial statements, an opening statement by the Governor, an analysis of economic and financial developments in Malta and abroad, and a review of the Bank’s policies and operations. The Report also includes articles on the financing conditions affecting firms in Malta, public debt sustainability and the balance sheet of different institutional sectors. It also includes an analysis of sectoral developments in labour productivity and unit labour costs using national accounts data and another analysis on advertised rents in Malta.

The Central Bank’s Report notes that in 2021, the global economy began to recover from the COVID-19 shock, but the recovery remained uneven across sectors and countries. The strong rebound in global demand occurred in the context of bottlenecks caused by disruptions in production and supply. Mismatches between supply and demand in turn led to broadening of inflationary pressures that were amplified by rising energy prices. Against this background, towards the end of the year, the central banks of a number of major economies began to signal that the end of expansionary monetary policy was under consideration.

As was the case in most other economies, the Maltese economy also began to recover from the effects of the pandemic. In fact, gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 9.4% in 2021, driven by domestic demand, and to a lesser extent, net exports. The GDP level was marginally above that of 2019.

Employment continued to benefit from the ongoing normalisation of economic activity in the context of a tight labour market and from COVID-related support measures, in particular the Wage Supplement Scheme. The unemployment rate fell and stood well below its average since at least 2003 as well as the average rate in the euro area.

The fiscal balance remained strongly in deficit, reflecting the extension of COVID-19 related economic support and health expenditure in this regard. The current account balance also remained in deficit in 2021, reflecting a significant increase in imports which included the aviation sector. Furthermore, tourism-related earnings, while recovering, remained well below pre-pandemic levels.

The annual rate of inflation based on the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) fell marginally to 0.7% in 2021. By the end of 2021, however, inflation had risen to 2.6% as international price pressures affected the Maltese economy. Nonetheless, HICP inflation in Malta remained well below that in the euro area, mainly because domestic energy prices remained cushioned by fiscal support from the surge in international commodity prices. Changes in the weights assigned to HICP sub-indices in light of changes in consumption patterns following the pandemic also contributed to the lower inflation rate relative to the euro area. Inflation based on the Retail Price Index, which is unaffected by the aforementioned changes in weights, rose from 0.6% in 2020, to 1.5% in 2021.

The Central Bank’s latest economic projections show that economic activity levels are expected to continue recovering in 2022. However, as economic activity levels have already returned to those prevailing before the pandemic, growth is expected to moderate to more normal levels. The Central Bank expects that GDP will grow by 6.0% in 2022, 5.3% in 2023 and 3.8% in 2024. Inflationary pressures are expected to remain elevated in 2022 but should begin to dissipate in 2023, as supply bottlenecks are expected to gradually fade. The general government balance is expected to remain in deficit until the end of the projection horizon, although narrowing to 3.3% of GDP by 2024 as COVID-related support measures are phased out. Government debt is set to reach 60.9% of GDP by that year.

Risks to economic activity over the medium term are judged to be balanced, with some downside risks in the short-term, where the pandemic could affect tourism exports more negatively than envisaged in the latest projections. A prolongation of supply bottlenecks would also negatively affect activity. However, the start of the conflict in Ukraine in late February 2022, after the cut-off date of the Central Bank’s latest projections, has heightened uncertainty and represents additional downside risks to economic activity. Furthermore, in the absence of a swift resolution to the conflict, prolonged elevated commodity prices could impact domestic consumption in the medium term, unless mitigated by fiscal support and/or a faster decline in the saving ratio.

With regards to inflation, risks are on the upside during the entire projection horizon. Moreover, prolonged geopolitical tensions in Europe could also lead to higher imported inflation than envisaged in this projection exercise.

Risks to the fiscal projections mainly affect 2022 and are deemed to be deficit-increasing. In particular, these risks relate to the likelihood of additional COVID-related support, the impact of Air Malta’s restructuring on the likelihood of State aid to the airline, and support to cushion the impact of rising commodity prices following the conflict in Ukraine.

During the year, the Central Bank continued to implement the Eurosystem’s monetary policy decisions in Malta through standing facilities, liquidity-providing operations and asset purchases. Credit institutions established in Malta participated more actively in main refinancing operations conducted by the European Central Bank (ECB). In 2021, the banking system also made significant use of the third targeted longer-term refinancing operations instrument due to its attractive pricing. Take up of pandemic emergency long term refinancing operations also increased, while use of three-month long-term refinancing operations remained more limited. As in 2020, Maltese credit institutions did not use the marginal lending facility. Recourse to the deposit facility decreased as banks continued to add to their balances held at the Central Bank of Malta.

The Central Bank continued to purchase sovereign bonds under the public sector purchase programme (PSPP) and the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP). In 2021, it purchased €216.1 million worth of Maltese sovereign bonds under the PSPP and €235.2 million under the PEPP. The Bank also made additional purchases under the two programmes for the ECB’s portfolios.

The Central Bank’s balance sheet continued to expand, reaching €12,400.1 million at the end of 2021 from €10,035.4 million a year earlier. Operating profit before transfer to provisions decreased to €26.1 million from €42.8 million in 2020. Following the transfer of €3.9 million to provisions, the amount of €22.2 million is payable to the Government of Malta, as against €33.0 million a year earlier.

The Central Bank carried out regular assessments of financial sector conditions, also through stress tests and sensitivity analysis, and through the Bank Lending Survey. The Bank also published a first analysis on the extent of non-bank financial intermediation in Malta and of the domestic financial sector’s expo­sure towards climate-sensitive sectors.

As the pandemic situation in Malta improved, certain macroprudential policy measures that were postponed, in response to the pandemic, were reviewed. Moreover, following a public consultation, the Central Bank published an amended version of Directive No. 16 on borrower-based measures, mainly reflecting revisions to borrower definitions and other refinements. During 2021, the Central Bank worked on a comprehensive dataset to be reported by banks, targeting the whole population of real estate loans.

As in past years, the Central Bank continued to participate in ECB and the European Systemic Risk Board meetings related to the financial sector. Financial stability issues and the general economic situation were regularly discussed with the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the rating agencies.

Locally, the Central Bank remained active in the Joint Financial Stability Board as well as the Domestic Standing Committee and its Crisis Management Task Force. Meanwhile, it continued to monitor developments concerning Anti-Money Laundering as the differ­ent stakeholders continued their work in addressing the recommendations made by MONEYVAL and the Financial Action Task Force.

The Central Bank also remained active in the National Productivity Board, the Building Industry Consultative Council and the Housing Authority’s Rental Observatory. Contacts with private and public institutions were maintained and a new quarterly publication summarizing information collected from these discussions – the Business Dialogue – was launched.

The Central Bank again held webinars on economic topics as well as its Annual Research Symposium, which focused on climate change. Work progressed on a new model for the Maltese economy. Staff continued to work with the National Statistics Office on the fourth round of the Household Finance and Consumption Survey.

The Bank continued to compile and disseminate statistics to official institutions and the general public. A number of statutory returns were launched or amended in fulfilment of ECB statistical requirements in the area of payments and banking statistics and additional payment statistics were published on the Bank’s website. In 2021, the Bank launched directive No. 15 on the supervision of credit rating agencies. Meanwhile, the Bank continued to operate its Central Credit Register to provide information on borrowers’ credit risk to eligible institutions and borrowers.

The Bank continued to monitor credit institutions and other professional cash handlers, ensuring that all cash handlers were certified and trained to detect counterfeit euro banknotes and recirculate banknotes. Directive No. 19 was issued with a view to reduce the usage and potential abuse in the use of cheques and bank drafts. Meanwhile, following the ECB’s launch of the investigation phase of a digital euro project, a unit was set-up to build the required expertise for the Bank to be in a position to contribute to such project.

In 2021, the Bank carried out further upgrades to its physical as well as IT infrastructure and began to implement a new Financial Crime Risk Management system.

As part of its efforts to support the transition towards a sustainable global economy, the Bank applied several Sustainable and Responsible Investment practices in its investment decisions. In 2021, it continued to ensure that any external institutions involved in the management of some of its portfolios comply with Environment, Social, and Governance considerations in all their investment decisions. There was also an increase in the share of green, social and sustainable bonds in the Bank’s inter­nally managed portfolios. The Bank also continued to participate in the Network for Greening the Financial System, which brings together several of the global systemically-important banks and insurers. With a view to reduce its ecological footprint, the Bank maintained a number of initiatives that were introduced in recent years.

Looking ahead, the Bank will continue to monitor closely the economy and the financial system and to disseminate its knowledge to the general public. Within its remit, it will also collaborate with other stakeholders to strengthen Malta’s Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism framework. Another area which will merit particular attention during the upcoming year includes the alignment of the Bank’s analytical and operational practices in line with various ECB initiatives that are being planned to bring climate change considerations in the monetary policy framework. At the same time, the Bank will need to comply with standards and guidelines that the ECB may adopt in relation to non-monetary policy portfolios.

The Creative Business Cup is back

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The Creative Business Cup returns after last year’s success and is once again calling on Malta’s most promising creative entrepreneurs to join this global community of creative industries.

The Creative Business Cup, is regarded as the Olympics of creative start-ups and was launched in Malta by Culture Venture in 2021. Malta’s winner for 2021 was YouRun Ltd with the video game Warshmallows. The Creative Business Cup is a global competition organised by the Creative Business Network bringing together 80 national winners and is a unique event for innovators who aim to change the world and impact the global economy through their own unique creative enterprise.

The Global competition will provide Malta’s creative startups with an international platform and unprecedented access to networks, experts and investors in the field. Globally, the creative economy generates $2.2 trillion in revenues and creates 30 million jobs. In Malta the creative industries account for 7.9% of total GVA, exceeding the direct contribution of the construction and civil engineering sector and the accommodation and food services sector.

Startups utilising creative skills in the production of a creative industry product or service or creative startups collaborating with other industries are eligible to apply. These include businesses in advertising, architecture, craft & artisanship, design, experience technologies, fashion, film, video & photography, gastronomy, leisure activities, music, performing arts, play & learn, publishing, radio & television, software and 3D printing makers.

All participants who make it to the Malta final stand to receive: 10 hours access to business spaces at the Creative Incubator; professional mentoring by Culture Venture and follow-ups by Arts Council Malta and Malta Enterprise; and access to the Creative Business Network. A jury will also determine which of the 3 finalists will be entitled to receive a €1,500 award for creative business development from Arts Council Malta.

The winner from Malta, who will be announced during the National Finals, and will go on to represent Malta at the Creative Business Cup Global Finals in Copenhagen between June 27th and 28th and access BRIGHT: a two-day global event of innovation, creation, and knowledge from all over the world and lastly hold the title of Best Maltese Creative Start-up of 2022. This will be the first time Malta’s winner will join other creative startups for the finals in Copenhagen in person since the pandemic.

Online applications was open until May 4th, and all finalists will be announced by May 11th with the National Finals taking place on May 20th.

Malta has best value broadband in Western Europe

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Research conducted by Cable.co.uk, an organisation which exists specifically to help consumers compare the price of broadband internet, has revealed that Malta has the cheapest cost per megabit in Western Europe.

The research, which examined the cost of broadband in 220 countries worldwide, found that consumers in Malta access broadband internet for €0.07 per megabit, 2 cents less than Andorra, Spain and Portugal which came next on the list.  When considering the cost of internet access worldwide, in US Dollars, Malta places twelfth cheapest at $0.08 per megabit.

Harald Roesch, Chief Executive Officer at Melita Limited, said, “Our mission is to deliver communication products that rank top tier in Europe for value; the results of this research show that we have succeeded.  This is the good news for Malta, which enjoys an excellent reputation for the quality and resilience of its telecommunications infrastructure. The investment which our industry, particularly Melita, has made to bring superfast internet to the whole country, together with the vibrant competition that exists between providers, continues to deliver quality services to customers at some of the best prices globally.

When analysed on a cost per megabit basis in US Dollars, the results showed several countries in Eastern Europe including Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia, together with Singapore and Thailand, leading the list. The data for Western Europe, which compared prices in 29 countries and territories, showed that broadband internet is most expensive in Norway, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland.

More information is available at https://www.cable.co.uk/broadband/pricing/worldwide-comparison/

DSA and DMA: new global standards for the digital market

Over the last few decades, the digital world with large online platforms has become an integral part of all of us lives; without questioning the numerous advantages acquired, some of the “big techs” identified with the term gatekeeper, or “guardians”, have managed to build a real monopoly by exercising control over consumers and users’ choices in accessing the services of others companies. In this scenario, in order to ensure innovation and growth in the near future, on a clear and fair basis for all businesses, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament have presented two draft regulations known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA) that will set new global standards, setting precise rules in the digital market.

The DSA aims to create a digital space based on respect for fundamental rights online, therefore safer: harmful and illegal content will be eliminated more quickly, as well as topics that can misinform on a political or health level.

The DMA defines the role of the “gatekeepers” to limit their dominant position, ensuring respect for the free market and possible competition: one of the key points concerns the positioning of the products and services offered by them, higher than those offered by third parties on the digital giant’s platform.

The Commission, aiming for a rapid evolution of digital markets, will carry out a series of investigations that will allow to:

– identify the “gatekeeper” platforms

– constantly update the obligations foreseen for the platforms

– specify corrective measures to avoid recurring violations of the legislation.

EU governments plan to give technology companies a year and a half before the content moderation regulation is enforced, instead of the three months as initially suggested, this would lead to the effective application of the rule in 2024.

The consequences of non-compliance with the law are also very clear: late payment penalties of up to 5% of the average daily turnover and fines of up to 10% of the company’s total annual worldwide turnover.

In case of systematic violations, corrective measures proportionate to the violations committed are also expected.

The new proposals relating to digital certainly show all their potential effectiveness from a global perspective: taking into account the time and the ordinary legislative procedure, the hope is to see it soon applied throughout the European Union, as the beginning of future changes in the international digital scenario.

CETA BUSINESS FORUM: the new EU-Canada network

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The CETA BUSINESS FORUM was launched!

Almost five years have passed since the entry into force of the free trade agreement CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), which opened a new era of facilitations in exports and trade between the European Union and Canada. After years of discussions, the time has come to reap the benefits of this valuable legal instrument.

It is an innovative international conference, which aims to become a permanent platform dedicated to the development and strengthening of relations between EU member states and Canada in the commercial, industrial, technological and educational fields.

Ceta Business Forum

The first edition of the event is scheduled for June 22-23, 2022 and will take place in virtual format, through a digital platform that will faithfully reproduce a trade fair event, with the presence of classrooms, stands and services for interaction between participants, all in 3D format. A first “remote” version that anticipates what will be subsequent editions, in physical presence and traveling, through the EU countries and Canada

The participation in the CETA BUSINESS FORUM offers a unique networking opportunity for companies, professionals, startups, associations, institutions, universities and media from Europe and Canada.

An opportunity to learn in depth and make the most of the opportunities offered by the international treaty Ceta, which already in these first years of provisional effectiveness has brought flattering and in some ways unexpected results in terms of EU-Canada trade, despite the difficulties that arose in early 2020 with the emergency Covid-19.

An opportunity to promote oneself and gain international visibility by establishing contacts, opportunities for exchange and growth, not only at present but also in the future, becoming part of a network that will remain active on a permanent basis, and that will find in the annual conferences an occasion for a reunion.

An opportunity to get out of one’s own space-time boundaries, to have an aware and punctual vision of the world that surrounds us and of the future that awaits us, with perspectives mainly linked to innovation, sustainable development and global cooperation that translate into opportunities of great value, not only economic, and that find in Canada and in the European Union two absolute protagonists at a global level.

The CETA BUSINESS FORUM looks with particular interest at the following sectors: Energy, Agriculture, Furniture, Space, Sustainability, Automotive, Food & Beverage, Technology, Fashion, Education, Circular Economy and Blue Economy.

At the event it will be possible to participate in various ways, depending on interests and objectives: as exhibitors, promoting your business with a virtual stand and organizing B2B meetings; as speakers for workshops, seminars and round tables; as partners or media partners, to inform and weave the great EU-Canada network; and as simple visitors, to update and find new inspirations that can stimulate your professional and personal growth.

The CETA BUSINESS FORUM is organized by Malta Business Events, with the support of Trade & Invest British Columbia (Canada), Anima Investment Network (France), Ascame (Spain), Unci Agroalimentare (Italy), UPO University of Eastern Piedmont (Italy) , Iconic Cluster (Romania), Cluster Energia (Spain), Mediterranean Academy of Culture, Technology and Trade (Malta) and the participation of UniExportManager, the network of Italian Export Managers.

But many other partners and supporters are about to be announced, and many more will join to build together this new network that will cross the Atlantic in both directions to push two great realities towards a future of hope that we owe to the next generations.

“Sustainable finance plays role in sustainable future”

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Sustainable finance plays a crucial role in the transition to a sustainable future, MFSA Chief Officer Supervision Christopher Buttigieg said. He was speaking recently during a webinar organised by the Financial Supervisors Academy (FSA) on the topic of Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) which brought together experts from European and international institutions as well as National Competent Authorities.

The organisation of the webinar was motivated by the pressing need for a convergent approach to supervision of this field, with practical implementation of this regulation high on ESMA’s agenda.

Evert van Walsum, Head of Investor and Issuers Department at ESMA, stressed this point during his intervention, explaining that environmental, social and governance factors had to be integrated into supervisory practices.

OECD Acting Head of Corporate Governance and Corporate Finance Division, Serdar Celik, focussed on the G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance, which support corporate sector sustainability and resilience as they lead to better access to capital markets which in turn results in stronger balance sheets. Climate change is a significant financial risk for companies representing two-thirds of global market capitalisation, he added, noting that new and innovative businesses that support green and digital transitions are essential for long-term resilience.

Martin Moloney, Secretary General of IOSCO, spoke about the organisation’s commitment to increasing transparency and mitigate greenwashing. In his message, he pointed out IOSCO’s work in developing standards on the quality of corporate reporting of sustainability information.

Ryan Borg, MFSA Deputy Head, International Affairs, took part in a panel discussion on the topic of “Adapting in a fast-moving European regulatory environment – The Supervision of SFDR” alongside representatives from supervisors in Austria (Martin Wieshaider, France (Chloe Abdessater) and Luxembourg (Xavier Sans Sansa).

Mr Borg explained the MFSA’s supervisory approach and its work on raising awareness and guiding market participants to address the challenges, ensuring a stable regulatory environment. The MFSA included sustainable finance in its supervisory priorities and it is one of the key cross-sectorial themes for 2022.

More events on the topic of sustainable finance are planned throughout 2022, complemented by FSA training for MFSA staff members.

The FSA thanked all the speakers for their contribution and expressed gratitude to the continued support from participants.

The FSA is planning other events this year on topics such as AML Examinations with the US Federal Reserve, FinTech and the role of Innovation and more.

Employee management in Malta: what you need to know

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From its membership of the EU to its low tax rates and business costs, there are numerous advantages to choosing to bring a business to Malta, or part of it. Starting with workforce management and employee-related paperwork, thanks to fair and simplified employment legislation. Let’s review below what needs to be considered in this specific aspect when deciding to open a new business or office in Malta.

Workforce

English is one of Malta’s two official languages, and many people also speak Italian and/or French. This makes the Mediterranean archipelago an easy place to do business with the rest of the world, as most companies use mainly English.

Malta can also rely on high educational standards, and therefore a well-educated and skilled workforce, particularly in the areas of technology, information and communications.

Obligations

Of course, Malta also has legislation governing employee rights and employer obligations. It is important to know and understand at least the salient points of this legislation. of the legislation regarding employee rights and employer obligations.

A key element is obtaining a PE Number (Employment Permit), which is necessary to be able to hire workers and deduct taxes and social security contributions from employees’ wages. There is a simple procedure to obtain this code, but the documentation varies depending on the type of business and the industry in which it operates.

Wages

Malta has a minimum wage that, as of January 1, 2022, is set at €182.83 per week (€9507.16 per year) for people of legal age.

Social security

Malta has a social security system that is funded through contributions from employers and employees (including the self-employed). The range of benefits that these contributions help support include: maternity leave and benefits; sickness benefits and medical care; accident benefits and pensions; and more.

In Malta, both employers and employees are required to make social security contributions, the rate of which is determined by the employee’s age and annual salary paid.

As of January 2022, employer contributions are 10% on annual wages up to €25,986, or a flat rate of €49.97 per week for annual wages above €25,986 per year (provided the employee was born after 1.1.1962). Employees also pay social security contributions at the same rate.

This level of contributions is average internationally, i.e., significantly lower than the jurisdictions with the highest rates in the world (Mexico 43.72%, Russia 38.5%, and South Korea 24.84%), but higher than the countries with the lowest rates such as South Africa, Georgia, and Macedonia (2%, 2%, and 0%, respectively).

Leave

There is legislation covering all aspects of employee leave in Malta.

Full-time employees work 40 hours per week and are entitled to receive 216 hours of paid annual leave. This does not include public holidays (there are 14 per year in Malta) and is regulated on a pro rata basis for employees working less than 40 hours per week. Unless employment is terminated, the minimum four-week vacation period cannot be replaced by other benefits.

The Wage Regulation Order (WRO) regulates employee sick leave, and in all cases all employees are entitled to two weeks of sick leave per year. At the end of the two weeks, additional sick leave benefits may be provided through welfare contributions.

Maternity leave in Malta is set at 18 weeks, beginning 4 weeks before the due date, and female employees are required to take a minimum of 6 weeks of leave after the birth of the child. The initial 14 weeks of maternity leave are paid by employers at 100% of regular salary; after that, the leave is paid by social security.

There is no mandatory paternity leave in Malta, but there is a 4-month parental leave entitlement until a child reaches the age of 8 years (provided the employee has been employed for more than 12 consecutive months).

Other forms of statutory leave to which employees are entitled in Malta include marriage leave, bereavement leave, jury service leave, and court witness leave.

Termination of Employment

Malta has a number of regulations in place regarding employee termination, which can vary depending on the employee’s status and length of service.

A fixed-term contract may be terminated by an employer for business or personal reasons, or as a result of employee misconduct (in which case advance notice is required).

An employee may be terminated for cause, by layoff, or by reaching retirement age. The amount of notice that must be provided depends on the length of the employee’s service, with a maximum of 12 weeks (however, it is possible for an employee to receive a refund in lieu of notice).

Malta, on the other hand, has no laws in place regarding severance pay.

For more information or specific advice on managing employees in Malta, contact the Malta Business Agency team by filling out the form below.

FATF visited Malta to assess exit from grey list

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Experts from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) were in Malta for a three-day visit to assess whether the Maltese authorities have begun to implement the necessary reforms to improve the fight against money laundering and tax evasion.

Malta has been included on the FATF’s grey list since June 2021 for the following reasons:

  • a lax attitude towards rampant tax evasion;
  • lack of risk-based and analytical financial intelligence to resource the police and prosecutors to investigate and charge complex money laundering, including tax evasion;
  • lapses in ensuring that beneficial ownership of entities, covering not only the obvious case of companies, but all sorts of vehicles including obscure NGOs.

During its trip to Malta, the FATF delegation is holding meetings with various Maltese government officials.

The decision to make a visit to Malta was confirmed by the FATF at its February 2022 plenary session, in which it was stated that Malta has substantially completed its action plan.

Last month, the FATF publicly announced that initial indications showed that Malta appeared to have addressed the deficiencies identified ten months ago. However, the FATF is expected to announce its decision on Malta’s status at its next plenary session, scheduled for June.

The Maltese film “Carmen” awarded at the Canadian Film Fest

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New international success for Maltese cinema thanks to the film “Carmen”, directed by director Valerie Buhagiar, which won the best film award at the Canadian Film Fest.

Produced by Pierre Ellul and Anika Psaila Savona of Falkun Films, in collaboration with Canadian producer Coral Aiken of Aiken Heart Films, Carmen is Buhagiar’s third film as director. Executive producers are Daniel Bekerman (Scythia Films), José Luis Escolar, Mark Gingras and Dorothy Coetzee.

Inspired by true events and set in a village in Malta, Carmen is the story of a woman, played by actress Natascha McElhone, who finds love, and rediscovers a new life, at the age of 50, in a Maltese village in the 1980s. Accompanying the protagonist is a cast that features several Maltese names in the lead roles: newcomer Michaela Farrugia, along with veterans Henry Zammit Cordina, Peter Galea and Paul Portelli. The crew list is also predominantly and at all levels composed of Maltese film professionals.

The production of the film was supported by a €80,000 grant from the Malta Film Fund, and filming took place in various locations and villages in Malta and the sister island of Gozo.

“The release of this film came at the end of a long journey. During filming we showed glimpses of a traditional Malta and brought to life a story inspired by little known traditions. We are delighted that the film was successfully received in Canada, creating interest and curiosity about our islands, while showcasing the talents of our cast and crew. The collaboration between Maltese and Canadians worked so well to bring Valerie’s story to life, and we can safely state our belief that co-productions are the way we can build a superior film industry,” commented producers Ellul and Psaila Savona.

Valerie Buhagiar is the second case of a Maltese director who has moved to Canada and built her own success there, following Mario Azzopardi’s flattering achievements as a director of television serials.

The film Carmen will be distributed by the end of 2022 in Malta, Canada and the United States.

For more information or advice on investment opportunities in audiovisual production in Malta contact the Malta Business Agency team by filling out the form below.

Conclusion of the MAST project: tourism restart from sustainable development

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The Mediterranean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (MAST) project has been successfully concluded.

The project, funded by UfM for Employmen Promotion, was carried out by the association MACTT Ngo, together with four other partners from Greece (EILD Ngo), Italy (UPO – University of Eastern Piedmont), Tunisia (UMNAGRI) and Morocco (AORADRCS).

In over six months of work, the project partners have involved companies, professionals, teachers, young people and students who work in the tourism sector, or are in some way related to it, to start a process of ideas and discussions on the restart of the world of travel after the Covid-19 emergency: a restart that sees the sector called to re-propose, re-adapt and reinvent itself in a new form, based on models of sustainable development.

Tourism operators have therefore been called upon to make their future projects grow with this vision, not only out of a sense of responsibility in the face of climate change, pollution and environmental protection.

The MAST adventure started with a free online course dedicated to the new models of sustainable tourism post-Covid, offered free of charge to all participants from the five countries involved. All of them were then invited to submit new projects or business ideas always related to sustainable tourism, and the best proposals, collected at the end of 2021, were eventually rewarded with a business plan toolkit and a technical support consultancy aimed at providing entrepreneurs with the technical tools to structure and launch their projects.

The path ended with a coaching phase addressed to all participants, a final conference during which the winners and their ideas were presented, and the launch of some online forums to give life to a new community, and bring together entrepreneurs, professionals and educational institutions.

ICPAC Summit: a premium gathering of finance leaders

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We are proud to announce that the ICPAC Mediterranean Finance Summit is going to be hosted on May 5th – 6th in Limassol, Cyprus, with the partnership of Malta Business.

The ICPAC Mediterranean Finance Summit 2022 is the premium gathering of finance leaders and key decision-makers. This interactive Summit will focus on the evolving role of the CFO, the intelligent technologies breaking new ground, risk management, the volatile regulatory landscape, customer centricity and much more. 

We are now facing the biggest era of digital transformation and automation – CFOs and Finance Executives must evaluate how they should be planning for the future of their function. The ICPAC Mediterranean Finance Summit 2022 is the perfect platform for exploring future visions and the latest market developments, facilitating the necessary dialogue and collaboration among these industry pioneers.

KEY BENEFITS FOR PARTICIPATING

Interactive Hybrid Platform
Hybrid events enable you to put a virtual face to your organisation or come actually face-to-face by speaking to your viewers, attending meetings and networking

Build Thought Leadership
Showcase expertise and establish yourself as an industry thought leader

Generate Leads
It is the most cost-effective way to generate qualified leads of key B2B decision makers

Targeted Audience
Meet & engage with your target group

Global Reach
Hybrid events enable you to connect with your target audiences both locally and globally

New Prospects
Engage with new prospects and support existing relationships thus helping to drive leads into your sales funnel

About QUBE Events:

QUBE Events are created to provide an authentic platform where business leaders can build and cultivate long lasting relationships in a healthy and productive space. We believe in building credible relationships with our participants and sustaining mutual growth through our combined successes.

For more information and the full Agenda contact the ICPAC Mediterranean Finance Summit 2022 team at [email protected] or by visiting the event website: https://www.qubevents.com/mediterraneanfinancesummit

 

Research and development in Malta: the success of Aquaculture 4.0

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Malta exports innovation in aquaculture all over the world thanks to a robust ecosystem of support for research and development activities, which are considered fundamental for the development of economic activities and the achievement of recognition in terms of business and prestige even at an international level.

The ideal environment built in this small archipelago in the center of the Mediterranean in the last decade for those who want to do research and build new models of development, based on innovation and sustainability, is favored by important public incentives, advanced facilities, a streamlined bureaucracy and tax breaks.

If we add to all this a natural element such as the sea, in which the Maltese islands are immersed, success is guaranteed. So in fishing as in a strategic sector such as aquaculture.

An example of success comes from the experience of AquaBioTech Group, a Maltese company engaged in research and development of new technologies of the latest generation, which have already taken the name of “aquaculture 4.0”. These include applications of marine biotechnology to the “multipurpose” marine space and systems to counteract the impacts of climate change.

The group now employs as many as 85 people with high-level qualifications, thanks also to the 2.45 million euros recently collected through funds allocated for research by the European Union and the local government.

Following this path, which combines economic support with a look towards the future, the company has contributed to the development of world-class services and technologies, making Malta a country at the forefront of the aquaculture sector, thanks also to a research center located in the town of Mosta, where among other things another cutting-edge research facility, the Malta Life Sciences Park, is also located. The success of the Maltese company, which today collaborates in various research and development projects funded by European and Maltese institutions, is an example to follow for those who want to do research in order to improve our world and our economies by combining innovation and sustainability.

Malta Business Agency offers support for the development of research and development activities and for their internationalization.

Malta registers progress to be removed from the grey list by FATF

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The Financial Action Task Force confirmed that Malta has addressed or largely addressed the action plan at the technical level following the decision taken in June 2021 by the FATF to include Malta in its list of countries under enhanced monitoring referred as the “grey list”.

Malta is the first and only EU country listed in the grey-listed by the global anti-money laundering watchdog. In an action plan agreed with the FATF, Malta made a political commitment to focus its financial intelligence capabilities on tax evasion and money laundering and increase transparency on anonymous shell companies.

The FATF said that Malta has substantially completed its action plan and started implimenting anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing. Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said that a delegation of the Financial Action Task Force) will be visiting Malta to verify the action taken by the government in its attempts to be struck off the FATF’s grey list.

The delegation is expected to visit Malta during the first half of the year. Abela said that the FATF will be able to see that Malta is taking the necessary steps to address its shortcomings, while the country remains cautious and works silently but surely to show it is a serious jurisdiction.

Source: ITALPRESS

German Federal Court rejects lawsuits against CETA

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Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has rejected a series of constitutional challenges to the provisional application of the CETA trade agreement between the European Union and Canada.

In a ruling in Karlsruhe on Tuesday, the Court ruled that the Council of the European Union did not exceed its powers by deciding on the provisional application of the free trade treaty.

According to the Court, constitutional appeals against an EU Council decision on the final application of Ceta and against the German ratification law are also inadmissible, because they both refer to measures that are still pending.

Two citizens’ associations and the parliamentary group of the German Left had filed the appeals in 2016. The final decision came after more than five years, during which CETA came into force on a provisional basis, already demonstrating its effectiveness from a commercial point of view, as well as safety and protection vis-à-vis quality and certified European products.

From the point of view of CETA’s opponents, the agreement would limit citizens’ rights of political participation, environmental and consumer protection, subordinating these priorities to the logic of free trade. But the facts have shown something else.

The president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, drew a first positive balance during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in June 2021: in 2019, trade in goods between the EU and Canada, grew by 25%, and trade in services by 39%.

For the Ceta agreement to enter fully into force, it must still be ratified by the parliaments of all EU member states: among them Germany and Italy.

It should also be remembered that in the coalition agreement for the formation of a new government between the SPD and FDP after the general elections held at the end of 2021, it was agreed that a decision on the ratification of Ceta would be taken after the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court. This decision has now arrived and should pave the way for Germany’s full membership of the treaty.

Discovering casinos in Malta: from real to virtual

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As is now well known, Malta is the island of gambling: from real and virtual casinos, the sector confirms itself as one of the most influential and dynamic on the island, ready for a great restart once the coronavirus emergency is behind us.

Let’s discover this world of gaming starting with a summary of the main Maltese casinos, frequented both by tourists and by the resident population.

The first of these is the Olympic Casino Malta. Located in Eden Place, it is the newest on the island, opening in late 2015. It is also the largest, with a mix of Las Vegas-style entertainment and gaming in a space of 3,000 square meters. The casino houses 29 tables including 10 poker tables and 300 slot machines. On weekends you can catch a show by various performers or relax in the comfortable bar lounge.

Then there is the historic Dragonara Casino. Housed in a 19th century mansion by the sea in St Julian’s, it has retained much of its original architecture and interior design. First converted into a casino in 1964, it underwent an extensive renovation in 2010 and now features an exciting design and some of the world’s best gaming equipment, with more than 300 slot machines, 18 live table games and more. Open 24 hours a day, it also offers hospitality packages that include lunch and dinner at a celebrated brasserie.

Located on Qawra’s waterfront, the Oracle Casino on the other hand hosts a variety of daily poker tournaments, table games and slot machines. Visitors can also gamble live in the Sports Lounge, or enjoy live entertainment at the Oracle Casino Bistro restaurant, which features Mediterranean cuisine.

Finally, there is the Portomaso Casino, part of the Portomaso residential and recreational complex in the heart of St Julian’s, which has a minimum entry age of 18 for foreigners and 25 for Maltese, and has become a hub for gambling, leisure, entertainment, and dining.

But perhaps an even more thriving sector is online gaming, as Malta is renowned worldwide as the industry’s gold standard for its innovative gambling regulation, which has attracted a large number of operators. The regulatory authority responsible for the supervision of all gaming regulations is the Malta Gaming Authority: since its inception in 2001 it has accompanied the growth of the online gambling industry with the biggest names on the international scene, covering in recent years over 12% of the country’s GDP.

But what are the advantages granted by Malta to obtain a gaming license?

The Maltese gaming license is highly prestigious as it is one of the most respected in the world: in the gambling environment Malta is associated with fairness and transparency.

Social and economic stability is another attractive factor for the Mediterranean island, whose government is known to be very welcoming to international businesses with an adaptable and flexible regulatory system for companies wishing to apply for a license.

Other benefits include access to more markets, the ability to advertise products and platforms in all EU markets, tax benefits and more.

It must also be said, however, that obtaining a gaming operator’s license in Malta is not easy: and this is one of the reasons for trusting operators who already have one. Supervisors want to ensure that they are working with honest and reputable companies in order to keep the reputation of their jurisdiction intact. This translates into timeframes that are not short, documentation that needs to be produced and interviews that need to be conducted especially in order to properly implement CFT/AML, responsible gaming and underage gaming policies.

This might mean that a Malta gaming license might not be the best option for smaller operators, such as startup brands, but it definitely represents a great option for large-scale multinational companies.

All in all, Malta is a great place to visit for those looking for a safe and fun casino experience, as well as an attractive tourist destination. And for fans of online casino games, joining a platform with a gaming license issued by the MGA can be a guarantee of reliability and transparency.

To develop your business project in the world of gaming or verify the requirements for applying for a license in Malta, rely on the support of the team of Malta Business Agency.