News

MALTA, POSITIVE BILATERAL RELATIONS WITH BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Minister for Foreign Affairs G. W. Vella  received the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mr Igor Crnadak, for official talks. The two Ministers welcomed the positive bilateral relations that exist between Malta and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and discussed the possibility of furthering these ties through exploring ways of improving accessibility between the two countries with the view to develop tourism links in the future. 

Minister Vella underlined Malta’s continuing support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU Perspective, and commended the progress that was achieved by the country this year on its path to EU accession, positively recalling Bosnia and Herzegovina’s bid for EU membership which was submitted in February 2016. He welcomed the cooperative spirit which was recently demonstrated by the three members of the Presidency, and expressed his hope that this unified approach will continue. 

Minister Crnadak thanked Minister Vella for Malta’s consistent support to his country’s EU aspirations. He gave an overview of the reforms taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly those relating to the Reform Agenda, and the Government’s efforts to implement the Stabilization and Association Agreement. Minister Vella welcomed the positive developments, and the two Ministers agreed on the importance of such tangible reforms, particularly for the youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The two Ministers discussed the ongoing challenges in the Mediterranean and the Balkans, particularly with regards to the issue of migration and radicalization. Minister Vella noted that during Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, migration will be one of its key priorities and Malta will strive to keep this issue high on the EU agenda. The importance of political stabilization in the Western Balkan region was also emphasised by the two sides.

(Photo credit: MFA and DOI – Jason Borg)

(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

ALGERIA, IMPORTS OF VEHICLES DOWN

According to the Algerian Customs, the imports value of vehicles is state of 691 million dollars during the first quarter of 2016, a decrease of 67.53% compared to 2.13 billion dollars to same period in 2016. The Algerian National Centre of Statistics (CNIS) indicated that the imported quantities were down of 73.63% with 47,484 units imported from early January to the end of June 2016, compared to 180,082 units from the same period of 2015. The value of imports of automotive accessories was 198.1 million as compared with $ 201.15 million of dollars of 2015 (-1.52%).
(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

MALTA, FOR SCICLUNA EDUCATION AND COOPERATION AGAINST TERRORISM

The current turmoil in the EU, the Middle East and North Africa is undermining economic growth in the region. Dialogue, networking and cooperation are the tools through which this impasse can be overcome.
Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna made this statement whilst addressing the Malta-Libya-Tunisia-Algeria-Morocco Trade Exhibition & B2B Networking Forum event entitled Bottom-Up Economy. Minister Scicluna explained that the current international monetary system was devised during World War II, as the engagement of countries through trade was seen as an effective measure leading to long-lasting peace.
In drawing comparisons with the current era, Minister Scicluna stressed that countries can achieve peace through networking between private investors and entrepreneurs hailing from the region. To this end, he explained that the terrorism should be countered with education, as “we want business, we want peace, and we want to create jobs”. The Minister for Finance also said that the EU should look beyond its borders and concentrate on fostering trade and communication south of its borders, as the Mediterranean countries are eager for stability and innovation.

To this end, he referred to the role of the international development banks, including the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and, more recently, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which has started operating in Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon, and which intends to extend its operations to neighbouring countries in the near future.
 Minister Scicluna described Malta as an “honest broker” given that its sole agenda is that of fostering investment, employment, economic growth and opportunities in the region. The Maltese Presidency of the EU will seek to divert attention to this crucial region. Malta will also act as an honest broker during the negotiations over Brexit, as Malta wants the UK to remain a strong country.
(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

MALTA, PRESENTED THE RESULTS OF THE EMPLOYEE SKILLS SURVEY

Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business Chris Cardona and Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo attended the launch of the results of the Employee Skills Survey held by the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE), in collaboration with Malta Enterprise and Jobsplus. This research forms part of the Erasmus+ project “Promoting the Bologna Process in Malta 2014-2016”. The Employee Skills Survey was launched earlier this year with the goal of a research project aimed at identifying shortages in skills, whilst gaining insight on the supply and demand in different sectors of the labour market in Malta. The population for this study included all employers in the Jobsplus’ database, excluding self-employed (without employees). The sample size was weighted according to the company size and NACE sector. The data collection was carried out among a representative sample of employers during the first quarter of 2016. A panel discussion and workshops were held after the presentation of the results. Minister Cardona congratulated the innovative venture which provides useful information and expressed himself in favour of it being replicated in the years to come so as to allow comparative studies to further idenitfy local labour market needs and trends. Such a study gives insight into the micro-decisions that employers make about factors such as recruitment and use of skills in the workplace, whilst also underpinning the macro-level trends that drive Maltese economic growth and productivity. It also gives insight into how changes in the economy are impacting on different types of business and raises important questions for policy makers and business owners alike.

“At the heart of this study is a desire for the worlds of education and business to collide. At a micro-level, these factors may be damaging for business. At a macro-level, they could be damaging for the Maltese economy and our future success,” said Minister Cardona.
Education Minister Evarist Bartolo emphasised the need for education to be contaminated with reality. This can take various shapes, one of which is experience in the industry. He said that for education to become relevant and stimulating there needs to be a stronger link between what happens in class and what happens outside. Businesses no longer require just academic skills but are constantly emphasising the need for social and collaborative skills which are so crucial in the working environment.
Skills gaps can mean heavier workloads, higher operating costs and difficulties in introducing new techniques and work practices for businesses. A need for softer skills, such as time management and prioritising tasks, were observed in the study, with 56.2% of employers declaring that hard-to-fill vacancies were down to the lack of applicants with the required skills, with 43.7% saying that this was down to the lack of the required attitude and personality. Skills lacking in applicants for vacancies that are hard to fill were: written communication skills (32.9%); technical skills (32.1%); problem-solving skills (30.9%) and team-working skills (29.3%). Minister Cardona noted how a skill shortage reduces competitiveness and productivity, and can hinder Malta’s economic performance.

Minister Cardona also noted how we are currently achieving significant results, with a rate of economic growth which outstrips most of our European neighbuors, but in real terms for employers and employees alike in their business demands and quality of life. The latest Eurostat figures showed that in the three years under this administration, more than 20,000 jobs have been created, this whilst also registering the second lowest unemployment rate in the European Union. Of note is Malta’s current standing with the best youth unemployment record in Europe, aided by such measures as the Youth Guarantee which ensures that all school leavers are earning or learning. With the Government’s diversifying strategy for the economy and projects in the pipeline, collaboration is necessary so Malta keeps attaining such positive results for the economy.
“I want each individual to reach their full potential and I want Malta to punch above its weight in the world, with a reputation that others will admire. There is a need for synergy at all levels. This is good, valuable research and we should use this resource wisely,” concluded Minister Cardona. 
(ITALPRESS).


Source: medNews

MALTA, VELLA "TURKEY ATTEMPTED COUP CANNOT BE PRETENCE FOR CRACKDOWN"

Minister for Foreign Affairs George W. Vella has joined his EU colleagues in categorically condemning the attempted coup in Turkey over the weekend, while expressing Malta’s full support for the democratic and legitimate institutions of the country.
Speaking in Brussels on the sidelines of a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, Minister Vella called on the Turkish government to use the events on Friday night as an opportunity to strengthen Turkey’s democratic credentials. The Minister stated that Malta considers Turkey to be a close partner and stands in full solidarity with the Turkish people at this difficult time. Minister Vella urged the authorities to resist the temptation of retribution, stating that the perpetrators must be brought to justice in full accordance with the law and that the attempted coup cannot be used as a pretence to mute political opposition and slide towards authoritarianism. He also joined his EU counterparts in calling on the Turkish authorities to ensure full adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights, recalling Turkey’s obligations under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
During the meeting, EU ministers also discussed the tragic attack in Nice and held a minute of silence out of respect for the victims. Minister Vella reiterated Malta’s full solidarity with the government and people of France, while underlining that the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first semester of 2017 will do its utmost to ensure that anti-terrorist cooperation takes centre-stage in EU fora.

During the Council meeting, the ministers also discussed the EU’s relationship with China, highlighting that the EU-China summit last week had been a welcome opportunity to engage on matters of joint importance. In this context, Minister Vella welcomed a communication by the EU’s High Representative, entitled “Elements for a new EU strategy on China”, while underlining the importance of continuing the EU’s positive engagement with the country. The ministers also held discussions on the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy and discussed the EU’s engagement with Latin America. Prior to the Council meeting, Minister Vella joined his counterparts in a working breakfast with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, where discussions were held on various issues of joint concern, including the attempted coup in Turkey, the situation in Syria, the Middle East, Libya and global terrorism. This evening, Minister Vella is participating in a joint Council and ministerial meeting of the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

MALTA ARGUES FOR FAIR APPLICATION EU FISCAL-STATE AID RULES

Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna stated that there is need for a fair and balanced approach to the application of EU rules governing the public finances in order to ensure that they work in the interest of citizens. Minister Scicluna was speaking to the press on the sidelines of a meeting of euro area finance ministers (Eurogroup) in Brussels. “There is a very thin line between unravelling the rules, [thus] making them ineffective, and being draconian [and encouraging] euro-scepticism,” stated the minister, as he pointed out that a balanced approach does not imply that the rules are ignored altogether. “Definitely there must be a middle way, but we [also] cannot just bend the rules for the sake of bending them”. Minister Scicluna pointed out that there is enough flexibility built into the rules to ensure that responsible fiscal policies do not rely exclusively, for their compliance, on draconian sanctions which could cause more harm than good to national economic reform programmes, at the cost of the livelihood of citizens. The same applies to state aid rules, which should be applied fairly. The Eurogroup meeting, which focused its discussions on the budgetary situations in Portugal and Spain, as well as the euro area’s general fiscal stance, was followed today, 12 July 2016, by a meeting of all EU finance ministers, known as the ECOFIN Council. 

The meeting discussed an anti-money laundering proposal which will make it more difficult to finance terrorist activities through illicit means. Other issues which were discussed included the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact, the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance, and a proposal for a European Depositor Insurance Scheme. This scheme is expected to strengthen the guarantee given to citizens that they would not lose their savings should their banks collapse. 

While in Brussels, Minister Scicluna held several other meetings, including those regarding preparations for Malta’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first semester of 2017. These included a meeting with the European Parliament’s Budgets and Economic and Monetary Affairs Committees, and a meeting with the current Slovak Presidency, the UK which is – to date – scheduled to hold the Presidency following Malta, together with the European Commission and the European Parliament

Minister Scicluna was accompanied by Ambassador Marlene Bonnici, Permanent Representative of Malta to the EU and the Permanent Secretary for Finance, Mr Alfred Camilleri, during the ECOFIN Council meeting. Preliminary fi gures show that Malta registered a trade defi cit of €256.3 million in May 2016, compared to €424.0 million in the corresponding month of 2015.
(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

MHRA TO ALPA AND GOVERNMENT, HANDLE AIR MALTA WITH CARE

MHRA commissioned Deloitte to carry out a survey as to the performance of the Malta’s tourism industry following the Brexit decision. The sample sentiment analysis survey indicated that hoteliers and restauranteurs remain confident and positive about the performance of the tourism sector as a whole. MHRA reiterates however that the success of the tourism sector cannot and must not be taken for granted as it is very sensitive to political and economic changes that can happen both at a local and international level. Indeed BREXIT is the latest development at an international level that may impact the tourism sector however safety and security still rank highest in order of importance and sensitivity. From a local perspective Air Malta is probably the major challenge that Government is currently facing and decisions on this front definitely have an impact on the future performance of the tourism sector. MHRA asserts that Government must ensure that the decision making structure in any potential business arrangement that AIRMALTA may embark upon in the current restructuring process must remain within Maltese control. Indeed it is when the going gets tough that such control becomes critical and appreciated by the wider tourism sector in Malta.

Furthermore, MHRA insists that AIRMALTA is a critical variable in the success formula of our tourism sector and accordingly also calls upon the AIRMALTA pilots association (ALPA) to act with prudence and refrain from short-sighted actions or threats that may lead to damaging the confidence of the tourist traveling to Malta. MHRA reminds ALPA that the consequences of their actions, motivated by requests for further improved financial and working conditions, are already threatening the industry and livelihood of thousands. This is unacceptable. Let’s not take success as some given right. We must all remain focused and seek solutions to ensure that Malta remains successful.
(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

MALTA, REDUCTION ELECTRICITY TARIFFS LAUDED BY UE COMMISSION

The reduction of electricity tariffs in Malta has been lauded by the Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefcovic. In his intervention at the Informal Energy Meeting hosted by the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union in Bratislava, attended by Minister Konrad Mizzi, Vice-President Sefcovic said that households in Malta have the lowest electricity costs in the EU as a percentage of their income. This is in contrast with the increasing tariffs across the EU since 2008, which have increased by 4% per annum for households. 

Addressing the meeting Minister Konrad Mizzi said that energy costs make a real impact in people’s lives, and prices are directly correlated with economic growth, and people’s prosperity. Minister Mizzi said that Malta fully supports the energy union and electricity market design, while stressing that taxation should remain the remit of national governments. Mizzi also commented that work on route identification of the Malta – Gela gas pipeline is progressing.

The meeting stressed on the importance of cheap and affordable energy, on optimisations of the energy mix and cost structure, and investment in new gas-fired plants and floating storage units. LNG is becoming a global commodity and this is attributed to technologies such as Floating Storage Units, which is leading to more affordable LNG facilities. This further confirms that Malta’s energy policy for secure, sustainable and affordable energy mirrors the EU’s Energy Union strategy.  
Permanent Secretary Mr Ronald Mizzi is accompanying Minister Konrad Mizzi in Bratislava.  (ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

ENEL LAUNCHES IN TEL AVIV A HUB FOR INNOVATION IN ISRAEL

Enel launched its hub for innovation in Israel in Tel Aviv, in the presence of the Group CEO Francesco Starace, Italian Ambassador in Israel Talò Francis, the managing partner of the fund Genesis Partners Jonathan Saacks, Saul Singer, co author of the book Startup Nations and Anya Eldan, head of Early Stage Incubator Programs and the Israeli Ministry of Economy. The inaugural event was held in the headquarters SOSA. Enel is the first Italian company to create a center for the innovation of this size in Israel.

Enel has chosen to partner with SOSA & The Junction, a community of innovation the most successful in Israel, with the goal of creating a one stop shop that can offer solutions to the Israeli start-ups willing to develop and produce products and cutting-edge services with social and economic impact.

Enel Innovation Hub aims to do scouting every year to identify up to 20 Israeli start-ups with high potential by offering them a dedicated support program.

“We are in a very interesting environment in the energy sector – said the CEO of Enel, Francesco Starace – companies like Enel, which make technological innovation a pillar of its industrial strategy, they face great opportunities. Our Innovation Tel Aviv hub represents an important milestone in this new environment. We adopt the philosophy of open innovation by working with the best start-ups around the world and providing our technological and engineering expertise to foster new uses of energy, new ways to manage it and make it accessible to more people. Israel is one of the most innovative countries in the world that every year sees the birth of hundreds of start-ups. I am confident that our presence in this country allow us an acceleration in innovation in the field energy”.

“We are proud of the exceptional opportunities for collaboration that we have been offered by a market leader such as Enel. Under the program, SOSA & The Junction analyze Israel’s tech sector according to the strategy and criteria set by Enel, bringing together the company with the most promising technologies and revolutionary, “said Jonathan Saacks, managing partner of the fund Genesis Partners and co-founder of SOSA.

In Israel, the Group will adopt the business model that has been tested in other areas such as Latin America, a model that is already giving results and that has enabled Enel to identify 30 start-ups which strategic projects are currently running.

More specifically, the start-up will be selected by an advisory committee made up of senior representatives of Enel, which will evaluate compliance with the strategic objectives of the Group and the business potential. Every start-up that will work in the overall Group will have alongside a figure of inner link that will facilitate interaction with global business lines and the Group’s market units.

In addition, the start-up selected will benefit from a number of resources such as: tutoring provided by senior Enel and SOSA & The Junction, a high-tech and comfortable place to work, test benches to improve their solutions, ability to execute projects pilot in the countries in which Enel is present and access to the Group’s sales channels that reach millions of customers every day.

Start-ups that will work with Enel will have the opportunity to receive additional funding from the Israeli Ministry of Economy which, under an agreement with Enel, will provide assistance in an amount equal to the support made available by Enel.

The Group aims are to be an active player Israeli ecosystem by working with universities, venture capital funds, institutions and other enterprises, in order to enrich the network of Israeli innovation and link it to other ecosystems in which Enel it is part.

(ITALPRESS/MNA).


Source: medNews

MALTA HOPE TO BUILD STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS WITH LIBYA

The Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business Dr Chris Cardona addressed the Libya British Business Council in the House of Lords of the UK Parliament. Minister Cardona stressed the long-standing and significant relationship between Malta and the UK, and highlighted Malta’s association and role with Libya. Libya as a near neighbour, has a long relationship as a trade partner with the island. Malta has been a link for Libya and Europe, keeping communications open and bringing parties together. 

Minister Cardona stressed that the business community should strive for future and further stability and security in Libya. Enhanced stability will guarantee the future prospects of Libya, with investment being allowed to flow in and the country to prosper. Malta has historically acted, and will continue to be seen by both parties as a kind of ‘second home’ where business relationships may be brokered. This Government has committed itself to create a legal and administrative robust structure which nurtures and supports such transactions to take place. Malta at current has a rate of economic growth that outstrips most European countries, with one of the lowest rates of unemployment and adoption of a pro-active strategy that diligently seeks investment and nurtures companies that get started in Malta. “We offer political stability, with agreement across the political divide on the issues that really matter. Malta is open for business and we hope to build further on our relationships with the U.K. and Libya,” said Minister Cardona.

The meeting was hosted by the Rt. the Lord Trefgarne PC and was also addressed by Mr Ahmed Kashadah, Managing Director for the Libya Africa investment Portfolio. The Libya British Business Council expressed its intention to organize a delegation to Malta later this year. 

(ITALPRESS).


Source: medNews

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