As COVID-19 put a stop to the local economy, the Malta Chamber has put together a think tank of business leaders, academics, and experts to identify how Malta can come together and build a sustainable and resilient economy in the face of a global pandemic.
The think tank is made up of a core group and several round-table committees representing different sectors, including tourism, hospitality, transport and manufacturing.
The different round-table groups put forward key recommendations that could help build a more competitive economy – here are a select few of them.
1. VAT should be reduced to 7%
A common recommendation among the groups was to reduce VAT from 18% to 7%. Lowering VAT would allow consumers to keep more of their disposable income and help give the economy a further boost. It would also help importers and distributors to boost revenue.
2. Technology should feature more strongly in education
According to the technology sector committee, headed by John Degiorgio, technology is not featuring sufficiently in the education cycle, and it should feature much earlier on in the process. They suggested that a campaign should be put in place to encourage children towards STEM subjects.
Degiorgio further highlighted that COVID-19 has provided a strong opportunity for education and training to be carried out remotely and internationally.
3. Malta should pioneer the autonomous vehicles industry
With one of the highest road network densities in the world, as well as a healthy mix of old and new road infrastructures, the transport committee recommended that the government should plan and design legislation to tackle various challenges brought about by autonomous vehicles. They further recommended that Malta could designate specific areas for autonomous vehicle-testing.
4. Better links should be established between industries and academia
With a shift towards smart manufacturing and automation, the manufacturing committee emphasised that Malta needs a workforce that is capable of addressing the digital requirements of certain industries.
The committee also stressed the importance of closer alignment between academia and the needs of the manufacturing industry, so that students
5. Implement rent laws for force majeure
Maltese rent prices have been on the rise for many years, and COVID-19 means that people are receiving lower wage salaries while paying the same rental prices. The think tank thus called for stronger laws on rent, with COVID-19 considered as a force majeure.
6. Maintain and improve the wage subsidy until a vaccine is administered
The wage supplement scheme was implemented to help subsidise the salaries of those working in hard-hit sectors. The think tank called for the continuation of this scheme until a vaccine is found and distributed.