Updated | Muscat calls on financial services operators to help engage critics

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat insists Malta should not adopt a siege mentality despite all the criticism against the country's financial services sector

Joseph Muscat addressing the annual seminar organised by the Institute of Financial Services
Joseph Muscat addressing the annual seminar organised by the Institute of Financial Services

Malta's financial services sector remained under foreign scrutiny and the government needed the help of the industry to engage critics and opponents, rather than take on a defensive attitude, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this morning. 

"We need to acknowledge that our jurisdiction is under scrutiny for our financial services system, but we remain convinced of the solidity and transparency of our system, " Muscat said, while addressing an annual seminar organised by the Institute of Financial Services. 

He said that it was imperative that the country not take on a siege mentality in the face of all the criticism; instead he encouraged all practitioners to fully engage critics and opponents of Malta's system. 

"Now more than ever it is important to go abroad and explain our financial services setup," Muscat said. "But government cannot do this alone and needs the participation of operators."

He said that during the next few weeks, Malta will start to benefit from the overhaul of the Malta Financial Services Authority.

The government will, in fact, be introducing new proposals for discussion within Parliament and the industry.

"This will further solidify Malta's financial services sector and strengthen our position," he said. 

Opposition ‘four-square’ behind government on tax harmonisation

Safeguarding Malta’s reputation as an international financial services jurisdiction was of utmost importance if the country was to continue attracting interest and investment in the sector, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said.

”Unfortunately, our beloved island has been in the international press lately for the wrong reasons and this has not helped the image of our country overseas,” he said. “If we are to continue to attract interest and investment in the financial services sector, we need to ensure that we attain the highest international standards and that our good reputation remains intact.”

Delia said that the financial services were a key contributor to GDP economic growth in terms of value-added, provided high quality employment and facilitated a lot of ancillary work.

He said that competition in this area was continuously increasing and that Malta needs to ensure the country plays to its strengths and continues to invest to make sure that financial practitioners have the requisite professional competencies to cope with the new world order.

Delia said it would be unwise to ignore the current debate on tax harmonisation.

“Let there be no doubt. On this issue, the Nationalist Party is four-square with Government,” he said. “We are against tax harmonisation initiatives which restrict EU member states’ autonomy in tax matters and which would unduly harm small, service-oriented countries like Malta.”

Delia said the PN was strongly opposed to measures such as public country-by-country reporting, a common European consolidated corporate tax base, and other such proposals.

More in National