The green revolution can create new jobs

I intend to work to attract more firms that start seeing the local market as an interesting prospect. That would ensure the creation of local niches and embed new firms more firmly within our economy

A greener economy is an economic opportunity: ‘waste’ that we discard today has the potential to become a source of energy
A greener economy is an economic opportunity: ‘waste’ that we discard today has the potential to become a source of energy

As we reach the end of year, we look back onto the 12 months that have disrupted our lives, forcing us into social distance measures, changing our habits and pushing us to look at the environment around us from a different perspective.

As all countries focus on plans to recover and revive their economies, Malta does the same with new impetus on sustainable development.

The Ministry for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development fits perfectly the vision of a country that wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. It goes without saying that this target can only be achieved if all of us – government, industry, private businesses, and citizens – are on board.

I am not one to measure the successes of a country based only on numbers. Numbers are important and economic growth will remain a priority, but so should the social and environmental aspects.

Figures however help us set a direction: last month, Eurostat published the results for the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure Scoreboard. These are a set of indicators through which the European Commission assesses the presence of economic issues in Member States. Malta was the only country in 2019 to be judged as having no imbalances. Another Eurostat report looked at the proportion of EU enterprises classified as high growth – these would be companies with an average annualised growth greater than 20% per year over a three-year period. Across Europe, just one in ten enterprises are classified as high growth. In Malta, more than one in seven Maltese firms are high growth.

These figures should be seen in terms of actual projects. Despite the pandemic, Malta Enterprise approved 107 projects. Compare this to the year 2012 and you are looking at double the projects.

These figures are what gives me the courage to focus on both attracting new investment to Malta, as well as encouraging existing companies and sectors to be the true drivers of the transformation of our economy.

Our strategy during the COVID-19 emergency was to leave no one behind. The government’s measures saved 100,000 jobs. At its peak the wages of half of all private sector workers were being subsidised. Similarly, with loans, Government allowed banks to provide moratoria that protected commitments of up to half a particular sector’s outstanding debt. After protecting firms during the crisis, we are committed to do our utmost to ensure that once the pandemic is over, they play a key role in our economic recovery.

It is key that existing sectors champion the adoption of new technology. The difference between a successful economy and one that lags behind lies primarily in the rate at which existing firms adopt new technologies.

Together with my colleagues, I intend to work to attract more firms that start seeing the local market as an interesting prospect. That would ensure the creation of local niches and embed new firms more firmly within our economy.

The model of having firms that come to Malta just to use it as an export platform has its limitations and needs to be revisited. COVID-19 has shown the importance of supply chains and the need of having resilient trading networks. When attracting new firms. we should ensure that they fit in within our existing industrial ecosystem and can enhance it.

We need to cooperate closely with firms already located here and learn more from them how best to create local niches of suppliers. This would facilitate our task of having a more resilient economy and facilitate the task for our education and training system as it would focus on the type of skills required and allow for more technical advancement. This would also help us go up the global value chain and increase the productivity of our workers, and in turn would lead to higher wages.       

Innovation is key. How do we join together economic growth and environment protection? Through a greener economy.

A greener economy is an economic opportunity: ‘waste’ that we discard today has the potential to become a source of energy, a new product or service. The power of the sea, air and earth can be harnessed to provide energy. There are so many great business opportunities in the projects envisaged as part of the European Green Deal. The green revolution has the potential to create new jobs, most of them of high quality.

All this creates a sensational opportunity for many local operators who have a major role to play and who can benefit from the enhanced economic environment which will result thereon. The road ahead is exciting and I am committed to work hard every step of the way.

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