Metsola calls for ‘massive public investment’ to make Malta ‘tech destination of choice’

Malta possess the right environment for it to become an island home for digital innovation and invention, Roberta Metsola told the Malta Blockchain Summit

PN MEP Roberta Metsola called for massive public investment for Malta to become the tech destination of choice
PN MEP Roberta Metsola called for massive public investment for Malta to become the tech destination of choice

PN MEP Roberta Metsola called for increased public spending on traditional and digital infrastructure in order for Malta to become a hub of digital innovation and invention.

Addressing the Malta Blockchain Summit on Friday, Metsola said with Malta having earned the Blockchain Island moniker, it now needed to become the tech destination of choice.

“We have the ideal environment, and we can create an island home for digital innovation and invention that can be a safe haven for new industries to develop, aided and protected by avant-garde legislation and policy decisions,” the MEP said. 

To achieve this, she said, Malta will have to match the “fantastic enthusiasm” seen at the summit with “massive public investment in both traditional and technological infrastructure, and to maintain the right regulatory ambition needed for the sector to grow”.

“As an archipelago in the middle of a vast sea, Malta and Gozo have always had to put innovation at the forefront of our economic policy,” Metsola said. “We have harnessed emerging technologies to create new spheres of economic growth, we got it right with Maritime, gaming and of course financial services. We grew because we realised the potential that these sectors had to offer and we used our size to our advantage to move quickly and expertly.”  

She said that while distributed ledger technologies, blockchain, artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies are revolutionising the way business is conducted, participants also needed to engage with the public and to ensure that “law enforcement’s money-laundering concerns are addressed”.

She highlighted “that this new, misunderstood, system must not create new dark-nets of anonymity to allow new places for criminals to hide ill-gotten wealth”.

Metsola praised the Maltese legislative framework passed over the summer, adding that the country needed to “be ready to understand and reap all the benefits that DLT and blockchain have to offer”.

She described Malta’s DLT legal framework as a good step forward, as was the setting up of the Malta Digital Innovation Authority, which is tasked with overseeing businesses in the sector. However, she said Malta needed to remain on its toes and to ensure it remained adaptable. “We have to continue to diversify, to breathe new life into our economies and to facilitate the creation of new ones.”

Finally, Metsola stressed the importance of targeted regulation, explaining that in the European Parliament she had become weary of “over zealous, sometimes unnecessary, regulation that serves to stifle innovative concepts”.

“For blockchain, artificial intelligence and so much more, we must make sure that we do not go down the road of regulation for regulations sake,” she said. “The maxim that a good headline does not always mean a good law remains true.”

She called on legislators to ensure the right type of targeted and specific regulation to be available at the right time. “Too soon and we risk jumping the gun, too late and we risk being totally left behind.” 

Metsola said that the overriding focus on these issues must always remain on unleashing all the potential of new technologies while strengthening safeguards and allaying people’s fears.

More in Court & Police