Government has 'radical proposals' on land-based gaming - Herrera

Economy Minister - Islamic banking intended to attract Gulf investment

The government has 'radical proposals' regarding land-based gaming in Malta, parliamentary secretary for competitiveness Jose Herrera said. 

"It's a delicate situation because we dont want people to abuse gaming. However, the majority of gamers dont have vices."
He was speaking at the third series of the public consultation activity 'a government that listens'.  

In his introductory speech, Economy Minister Chris Cardona said that the aim of Budget 2015 was for the government to encourage more businesses, including non-European ones, to set up in Malta.

As an example, he said that the introduction of Islamic banking as stated in Budget 2015 is intended to encourage more investment from the Gulf States and the Middle East.

"The UK, Luxembourg and South Africa have already reaped economic benefits from opening their markets up to these countries, and indeed we've already sent delegations to countries like Kuwait and Qatar to attract them to invest here."

The two also said that Maltese businesses must respond to competition from online shopping by setting up their own online platforms. 

Although 77% of Maltese people now shop online, only 14% of Maltese businesses have an online presence. "Therefore, we will launch the Bling Directorate, an online interactive directory for Maltese businesses, that will offer free expert advice to companies setting up online," Herrera said. 

Cardona also said that the government had already allocated 200,000 square metres of land to the manufacturing sector and that an enormous, abandoned factory in Mriehel will be transformed into a 'food hub' for food manufacturers, part of the governments plans to regionalise different manufacturing sectors. He also said that the installation of a second optic fibre-link between Malta and Gozo was crucial to encourage investment in Gozo. 

"Gozo should not be seen as an extension of Malta or as a dumping site for what Malta doesn't want but as a location for industries that employ high-skilled workers," Cardona said, adding that the government was working on three new projects in Gozo that will generate jobs for Gozitans and stem the brain-drain of skilled Gozitan workers from Gozo to Malta.

Meanwhile, Herrera said that the amount of free wi-fi areas in Malta is set to double next year, that a White Paper on the regulation of the real-estate agent industry will be published in the coming weeks, and that the budgetary measure that will allow cruise-liners that dock in Malta to open their casinos to their passengers is intended to encourage such cruise-liners to stop-over in Malta.

Cardona also highlighted the need to improve and broaden out the skills of the Maltese workforce. He mentioned initiatives such as the Youth Guarantee Scheme, the introduction of vocational subjects in secondary schools, the introduction of an employability index, and the government's commitment to improve trade schools.

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