A guest contribution by Perit David Xuereb, President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise & Industry.
The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry is cognisant of the fact that the financial services industry has grown consistently throughout the years, now generating over twelve thousand jobs, representing 5% of total employment in Malta. This is an important figure for Malta, a country that has traditionally focused on the capabilities of its human resources and invested in emerging industries. It must continue to do so to remain competitive especially given the trying times businesses are currently operating in.
Despite its strong performance in recent years, it is important to mention that the financial services industry was put in the spotlight last year due to the lack of prosecutions related to money laundering. As a result, both the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission required the Authorities to be more effective in their supervision efforts, and up their game in terms of financial crime compliance and enforcement action. As such, it is encouraging to note that, as the responsible Authority, the MFSA is investing in capacity building and new technology and knowledge management tools to be able to cope with the complex market requirements and the ever demanding regulatory framework. The country cannot afford to slip on this important challenge.
The Malta Chamber has always promoted the importance of the financial services industry as it has always believed that it needs to remain a principal pillar of the Maltese economy and this is why it has always been central to our mission. In January of this year, the Malta Chamber of Commerce published a document entitled ‘Ethical Businesses calls for Change – A Manifesto for Good Governance’. This document includes more than 60 concrete recommendations proposed by an engaged multidisciplinary team of experts. Some of the recommendations identified need the cooperation of the MFSA, as the central regulatory body, which remains an important stakeholder within the business community.
One of the recommendations was that there needs to be more enforcement and increased education of warranted professionals. Indeed, the Chamber was pleased to note that the MFSA is already taking steps in the right direction with their consultation document published in 2019 to further regulate Company Service Providers (CSPs). In addition, we are pleased to note that MFSA has also invested in a series of educational campaigns for consumers to enable the public to make more informed decisions. We are pleased to note that, over the past weeks, the Chamber and the MFSA agreed to cooperate in this area for the private sector to ensure it is also in line with its obligations in respect to corporate governance.
The Malta Chamber has been vociferous in addressing the skills shortages present in the market. As a result, the work that the MFSA has been doing on the Education Consultative Council (ECC), which encourages young people to plan a career in financial services, is an important mission that the Authority must continue to shoulder in order to protect the industry. At the Malta Chamber, we welcome the reforms laid out in the MFSA’s Strategic Plan
The Chamber believes that the road to restoring our reputation as a serious jurisdiction is still long and many more measures will need to be implemented. Nevertheless, it also appreciates that in these trying circumstances, the MFSA has been and continues to work hard to reform its internal structures to restore the sector’s good name and drive the reputation of our jurisdiction high.
Perit David Xuereb graduated from the University of Malta in Architecture and Civil Engineering in 1991 and then from the University of London in Structural Engineering in 1993. He is the Chief Executive of QPM Ltd. providing professional consultancy services in design, engineering and management in the construction and built environment industry. Mr Xuereb lectures at the University of Malta and has been elected a Council Member of the Malta Chamber since 2009 and last year he was appointed President of the Chamber of Commerce.