The passing of Vince Farrugia last night struck a deep blow to Malta’s business community which looked to the former Director General of GRTU and PN candidate as a mentor and leading voice for the small and medium size enterprises of the islands.
Many paid tribute to Farrugia for his dedication to his work, including a number of notable personalities and figures who shared anecdotal stories about the leading business lobbyist.
“I knew Vince Farrugia as the chairman of NTOM, which is now the MTA. We had worked together to increase the local leisure industry hours to compete with Spain, including late licensing for people to dine,” said Philip Fenech, Deputy President for the Chamber of SMEs.
“I saw him grow the organisation form a few hundred to a few thousand. He was a dynamic personality, always full of energy and passion when it came to the economy,’ he continued. “His legacy is that he made a lot change and did a lot for small and medium enterprises. He helped them grow further throughout the long years he worked for the organisation.”
“We worked together to broaden our tourism marketing mix from mainly English tourists arrivals at the early stages of our tourism, during the sterling forward buying rate for British tourism.”
“He was also decorated and received the Ġieħ ir-Repubblika for the work within the Chamber of SMEs.”
Current CEO of the Chamber of SMEs Abigail Mamo credited Farrugia for launching her career.
“On a personal level, Vince Farrugia launched my career at the Chamber of SMEs, which, back then, used to be called GRTU,” she said.
“My first encounter with Vince was as the tutor of my thesis, when I was a student finishing my bachelors degree. Immediately after that, he employed me at the organisation and throughout he always believed in me, pushed me and supported me greatly.”
“Vince Farrugia had great stamina at work and he never shied away from challenges. He was a mentor to me in my early years and taught me a great deal and invaluable lessons, on which I continued building on in the years following his retirement and in taking up his role at the SME Chamber.”
Chief pharmacy lobbyist Mario Debono also shared a story of Farrugia’s sensitivity to people’s financial plights and his all-round benevolent nature.
“Vince was a mentor to many of us. He used to pick the natural leaders in every section and encourage us to aim higher, in giving a service to our fellow business people, and in using our talents to the best of our ability,” he said.
“I remember once when he had called me, late at night, and had come to pick me up. I didn’t know why at the time, he said he needed my help. He took me to a business owner who was crippled with terrifying debt and was facing a bank foreclosure.”
“The man was desperate and suicidal, and his family was in a bad way,” he continued. “The business was in debt, but in actual fact was owed a lot of money from customers, far more than the debt. Vince stayed with the man all though the night, first calming him down, then having a look at his plight, and then discussing a recovery plan. By the morning, a potentially tragic outcome had been averted and the man regained his hope. It was a long night, and Vince did not stop until the man’s business was on an even keel.”
“Vince had a style of his own, and he may have been brash at times. He suffered no fools, especially dilly-dallying civil servants, and he never hesitated to pick up the phone and call the Prime Minister and Ministers. The few misjudgements he made are vastly overshadowed by the good he did for small businesses and in putting them up there as social partners.”
“Behind the giant there was a gentle human being, who loved nature and who loved his work. And who smiled. We have lost a friend, and we are much poorer for it.”
Even MEP Roberta Metsola chimed in to pay her respects, highlighting his time in politics as a PN MEP candidate in 2009.
“A person who has an opinion on everything, and an opinion that he is always ready to share with others. A person who you enjoy talking with because he would analyse and come up with proposals. A person who was not quiet, and was bubbling with ideas. This is how we know Vince, both as a candidate for the European Parliament election, in the GRTU and beyond,” she said.
Speaking on Lovin Daily today, Director General of the Malta Employers’ Association, Joseph Farrugia, spoke about Farrugia’s decorated life.
“One thing I used to admire in Vince is that he was extremely outspoken and energetic,” he said.
“He could be forceful in his arguments. He had a good sense of humour, and his passing is a loss for Malta.”
Farrugia passed away last night aged 77.
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