Economy minister says Malta must be ‘country with a moral compass’

Chris Cardona: ‘Malta must brand itself as a stable and reliable jurisdiction’ 

Pressed by the moderator about the fact that the Maltese government, and Cardona himself, were regularly having to fend themselves against accusations of corruption, Cardona said that “contrary to what most like to believe, the situation is better today than it was in the past.”
Pressed by the moderator about the fact that the Maltese government, and Cardona himself, were regularly having to fend themselves against accusations of corruption, Cardona said that “contrary to what most like to believe, the situation is better today than it was in the past.”

Economy minister Chris Cardona has stressed the need for Malta to brand itself as a reliable and stable jurisdiction to do business in. 

The minister was speaking during a Q&A session at the EY Attractiveness Summit, along with deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne and parliamentary secretary for digital innovation Silvio Schembri where he was asked about the fact that the survey had registered a drop in Malta’s attractiveness to foreign investors. 

Cardona, who has been thrust at the centre of allegations by the Daphne Project consortium of journalists, said that this had a lot to do with the way in which Malta was being portrayed in the international media, insisting that while there were concerns, they weren’t being reflected in the reality on the ground. 

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He noted how he had said at the same event a few years ago that Malta needed to invest in developing a brand identity for itself. “We need to be a country with a moral compass,” he stressed, adding that Malta had to be a jurisdiction that investors associated with stability and reliability. 

Pressed by the moderator about the fact that the Maltese government, and Cardona himself, were regularly having to fend themselves against accusations of corruption, Cardona said that “contrary to what most like to believe, the situation is better today than it was in the past.” 

He said that there were many companies that were on the verge of moving out of the Maltese jurisdiction six years ago, but which had decided to stay and had since expanded their operations. 

He asked whether there would have been such a response from the private sector had there been as many doubts as some believed there were, pointing out that imports of industrial machinery had increased drastically in recent years, “further proof of an increased confidence and economic activity.” 

He said Malta had a lot to offer, singling out its flexibility and ability to be nimble when it comes to adapting to new developments on an international level. 

Silvio Schembri was also asked about whether Malta’s leap into the world of cryptocurrency was risky, given that some 15% of virtual currency coins had been stolen. “As an innovator, Malta risks having to learn lessons the hard way and potentially being blamed for people’s losses,” the moderator pointed out. 

Schembri responded by saying that the real question was whether the country was ready to embrace technology and change. “While there was always a risk in embracing a new technology, growing a vibrant ecosystem in Malta would lead to positive results, some of which are planned for and others which aren’t. 

“With Blockchain, Malta is looking to attract enough operators to come together and create something new, which is why the government has introduced a robust regulatory framework... Malta is entering this sector isa risk, but a calculated risk that the country is well-equipped to be taking.” 

Schembri also said that in addition to passing laws to regulate distributed ledger technologies, which would mainly impact the private sector, the government was also embracing the technology in its own processes, such as administering public records. 

“Malta is one of the first countries in the world where students get their certificates on the blockchain. The cannabis industry could similarly benefit from the application of blockchain technology which could certify products from seed to product.” 

On his part, Fearne emphasised the need for Malta to be in a position to attract talented and skilled individuals. “Malta is an ambitious country aiming to be the best in the world, but to do so, it needs to be in a position to attract the best minds. We need more minds and more innovation. We need to be the best.” 

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