The Bank of Valletta will not have any relationship with Malta’s medical cannabis industry, whether that’s in its research or production, showing a clear discrepancy between the government’s plans and the bank.
Speaking on TVM’s Dissett, BOV CEO Mario Mallia explained:
“We do not have the necessary skills to understand this business. If you do not understand the business, how can you take risks?”
“If the government is promoting it, it does not mean that the banks have the risk appetite to accommodate the industry,” he said.
Mallia’s position was met with disbelief from entrepreneur Reggie Fava, who raised concerns about the lack of coordination while also questioning the bank for failing to take an interest in an emerging industry.
“As a businessman, when I see something new, that for me is the cherry on the cake, because it is something I can cultivate and grow – it is new and innovative. So why can’t we work together?”
“Pharmacy is something new to them. So just because they have never experienced this, they are writing it off completely. What’s that about?”
Mallia’s comments come just as Malta hosts two summits for the industry.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has insisted that Malta-based cannabis companies will produce and export around €1 billion worth of products over the next three years, with 900 new jobs created on the island.
However, with BOV reluctant to back the industry, it remains to be seen how this could become a reality.
Should things fail to change, it appears that the Maltese bank will likely be left behind in favour of EU counterparts.