The Business Observer asked a few stakeholders what they expect to hear next Monday from Budget 2017 to keep the country’s current momentum going.
We’re a week away from Budget Day. Do you have particular expectations for the 2017 budget?
Malta’s economic performance for 2015 has been robust and the economy demonstrated notable resilience in a challenging macro economic environment over the last several years.
Bearing in mind that the annual real GDP growth rate registered at 6.3 per cent in 2015, making Malta one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, the expectation is that the government will not adopt any measures that destabilise the status quo or go counter to continued growth. This healthy economic environment should serve as an opportunity to take stock of the situation and take cognisance of the fact that further action needs to betaken to progress towards a sustainable public sector and revenue expenditure balance. There is also the need for a clear vision of upcoming opportunities and threats, and an invitation to the private sector to coordinate initiatives with the public sector to address these. Lastly, in a concerted effort with civil society and stakeholders, adopt and implement more initiatives to address inequalities in the country.
Are there any measures that the government can take to sustain the current momentum?
In the short term, Malta’s momentum can be constrained by the saturated utilisation of scarce resources. We are already experiencing tensions in the labour market, and clearly tensions are arising in the utilisation of land and in our transportation and infrastructure. The economy can regain momentum if tangible initiatives are adopted to relieve the pressure points. We need to consider diversification– flesh out the services sector into a broader-based collection of services and revitalise manufacturing. Also, we should look at building and capitalising more on Brand Malta. This idea may bebased on stereotypes but Brand Malta is still under utilised – it should be refined and revived. It carries an immense potential as ago-to-market asset.
Is there any particular measure that the government should introduce to foster more business activity?
Malta’s pro-business approach has already proven to be effective in facilitating and fostering business activity. The business community is thriving as a direct reflection or consequence of a strong economy. Naturally, parallel measures can be adopted to further harness business growth. One such measure could bridge the connectivity gap between the government and the private sector. Direction should flow around the system, not be solely bottom-down. Mundane problems that afflict us all, like traffic, require creativity and flexibility.”
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