Malta 'outperformed' economic expectations - Muscat

New Bank Of Valletta offices at the House of Four Winds in Valletta inaugurated by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

John Cassar White (centre) speaking to economy minister Chris Cardona, finance minister Edward Scicluna and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
John Cassar White (centre) speaking to economy minister Chris Cardona, finance minister Edward Scicluna and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Malta has "outperformed" economic expectations and was enhancing its credibility with European institutions, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today.

Muscat was speaking during the inauguration of Bank of Valletta's new offices at the House of Four Winds in Valletta.

Flanked by ministers Edward Scicluna and Chris Cardona and parliamentary secretary Edward Zammit Lewis, Muscat said the economic results recently obtained by Malta have surpassed the already positive forecasts of the International Monetary Fund and credit rating agencies.

"This is building our credibility, where government agencies give realistic projections and not suit the needs of a government come elections. Credibility was something the country lacked before the European Commission," Muscat said.

He added that the government was holding the breaks on its debt while the deficit, despite the Commission's forecast, was now under 3%.

Muscat said that measures introduced in the 2014 Budget have seen an increase in first-time workers. 

The result of incentives aimed at increasing female participation will be tangible in the second half of the year, he added.

Employing 1,600 workers, Muscat said Bank of Valletta played an important and pivotal role in the country's economic development.

In a highly competitive market, BOV will face important challenges in the coming years including the asset quality review currently underway by the European Central Bank.

This quality review will determine the quality of the bank's landing in the past years and will be followed by a stress test as a result of Europe's new Banking a Union agreement.

According to the Prime Minister, the country's challenge will be that of choosing projects that would bring added value to the country. He said Malta's economy had to “move at a speed parallel with the global market.”

Insisting on the globalisation of the domestic economy, Muscat claimed that the Individual Investor Programme - the citizenship scheme - will allow Malta to set a foothold in the global network.

Commenting on the "bright" prospects of the Maltese economy, BOV chairman John Cassar White welcomed government's energy strategy: "This will ensure new investment in the country's infrastructure while guaranteeing a reliable and affordable electricity supply to Maltese businesses."

Speaking on its challenges, Cassar White said BOV needed to upgrade its IT infrastructure as modern information technology was a strategic issue for most banks.

The chairman also had words of praise for government's target in developing a maritime hub around the Marsa area, at the former shipbuilding premises: "I hope that investors recognise and take up the opportunities that will arise to set up shop in this area."

The new offices at the House of Four Winds, overlooking the Grand Harbour, will serve as the meeting place for the board of directors and will house the office of the Chairman and of the company secretary.

House of Four Winds was built during the British rule and served as government offices for a number of years.