Difficult banks causing businesses to reconsider Malta investment, GRTU warns

GRTU meets with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to discuss what they describe as an 'unprecedented' banking situation

The local banking sector situation is making businesses doubt whether it is worth the effort to invest locally, the retailers' lobby said in a meeting with Joseph Muscat
The local banking sector situation is making businesses doubt whether it is worth the effort to invest locally, the retailers' lobby said in a meeting with Joseph Muscat

The reluctance of banks to open corporate accounts for foreign companies is leading to investors starting to question Malta's reputation and the worthy of investing locally, the retailers' union has warned.

In a meeting with the Prime Minister on Thursday, the General Retailers and Traders Union expressed its concern at the unprecedented situation businesses were experiencing in relation to the banking sector.

In this regard, the union called for the opening of new banks in Malta to address the issue.

GRTU president Paul Abela said that the situation was causing business to be lost on a daily basis, adding that the union "does not expect things to be the way they were in the past, but what can be helped should be helped."

Corporate services represenatives present at the meeting echoed Abela's sentiments, saying doing business has become "a challenge" for both them and their clients, with the current banking sector situation.

"Clients find it difficult to understand why they can open a business in Malta but not have a Maltese bank account," the representatives said.

"The banking situation is pushing good value investment away - investment that the government and private sector worked hard to attract," emphasised the GRTU.

Asking why it should take almost a year to open a bank account - ever for low risk businesses - the union said that the banking sector was lacking, across the board, clearly defined procedures for client onboarding.

"...Businesses cannot operate in a limbo, without knowing whether or when they will be given an account or be refused without reason."

To make matters worse, client and union members who traditionally did businesses with local banks were now being turned away and asked to close their accounts, the GRTU lamented.

It went on to call for more banks to operate in Malta to ease the current deadlock.

The union also highlighted the need for a "more harmonised application procedure" for local banks to structure the client onboarding process and make it accessible and clear to all.

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