Malta must wake up to the fact that ensuring good governance is not just a box-ticking exercise, but something which requires a change in the country’s values, the Malta Employers Association has said in a reaction to today’s greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The FATF plenary this afternoon voted to include Malta on the list of countries requiring increased monitoring, a decision that could have very serious implications on the country’s economy.
“We may have all the governance systems in place, but we will only be allowed to operate without the stifling straightjacket that we are now being forced to wear if we rebuild the trust of the International Community,” the MEA said in a statement this afternoon.
Greylisting, it said, was “unprecedented and embarrassing” for Malta.
“Unlike the COVID-19 pandemic, this crisis is entirely self-inflicted and the result of lax and corrupt practices by a minority of dishonest politicians and businesses, compounded by ineffective governance systems,” lamented the MEA, adding that greylisting would “stretch the Maltese economy to its limit”.
It added that the fact that Malta’s justice system had in recent years shown itself to be “strong with the weak” while also allowing “glaring transgressions and crimes” to remain unsolved. This, it said, included the case of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
“Our country has been shaken by too many scandals involving senior politicians and politically exposed persons, as well as the major institutions. The best efforts of the current Minister of Finance, Clyde Caruana, to clean up the mess left by his predecessor, failed to impress the FATF,” the MEA said.
The first step in the process of rebuilding, the MEA said, was accepting today’s outcome for what it was. “It will be pointless to waste time on political bickering and the pointing of fingers in an attempt to deny or downplay the severity of greylisting.”
Rather than “blaming the referee”, Malta needed to rethink its strategies and start holding people to account, irrespective of who they are or what their connections might be.
“We are all aware that as a small economy, the cards are often stacked against us, but we must also wake up to the realisation that we brought this on ourselves,” the MEA said.
Finally, it said that what was unfortunate about the whole situation was that the repercussions would fall on honest businesses and their employees.
It pointed out that the cost of added compliance procedures was already stifling many businesses, stressing that it had been campaigning for reforms on the political level for a long time though these had been ignored by the government.
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