Recently, members of the Malta Maritime Forum (MMF) met at the Conference Hall in BOV Centre in Santa Venera for a progress update meeting.
Welcoming the participants, Mr Kenneth Farrugia, Chief Business Development Officer at the Bank expressed the Bank’s satisfaction in hosting this first event since the signing of the collaboration agreement with the MMF. “The Malta Maritime Forum has an important role to play in bringing all the stakeholders together in order to elevate the visibility of this industry, and we are proud to host this event which boasts a richly diversified programme.”
Mr Farrugia explained that over the years, the BOV Group has evolved from a credit institution to become a full-fledged financial services organisation, providing specialised services to support stakeholders in managing both the credit and asset side of their balance sheet, as well as facilitating their banking requirements through the suite of digital banking channels and products. “We are highly pleased to be in a position to actively support the MMF through the provision of subject matter expert speakers from across our organisation, who can provide specialist insight on service areas within the Bank that are relevant to the members of the MMF.”
The management of corporate portfolios and pensions was the topic presented by Mr Steve Ellul, Head BOV Asset Management. He explained that this service has only recently been introduced, though BOV Asset Management, now a fully-owned subsidiary of the BOV Group, has been successfully managing individual portfolios since 1994. Mr Ellul gave an overview of how these portfolios, aimed at institutional clients having excess liquidity and seeking to generate higher return without entering into unnecessary risks, are managed by a dedicated team on a day-to-day basis in line with the mandate given by the respective client.
Mr Joe Bugeja, CEO of the MMF gave a progress report of the Forum’s work over the previous four months. Among the highlights mentioned were the participating of the MMF representatives in the Informal Ministerial Conference Blue Growth, Ocean Governance in the EU as well as the Mediterranean Innovation and Nautical Tourism held in Valletta. MMF has also signed a collaborative agreement with MCAST that will see the existing relationship between the Maltese maritime industry and MCAST growing stronger. Mr Bugeja made reference to the discussions that are underway between MMF, Transport Malta and the Mediterranean Maritime Research and Training Centre with a view that MMF would be in a position to launch a dedicated course this November.
Other speakers who intervened during the Forum were Captain David Bugeja, Chief Officer of Ports and Yachting Directorate within Transport Malta and Harbour Master, who gave an update of Transport Malta’s function and interactions with the maritime community. Particular reference was made to the function of the Port Authority and the role of Harbour Master. Mr Sonke Stein, CEO of Oiltanking Malta gave an insightful overview of oil storage and trading within the Mediterranean region, highlighting the challenges ahead and future prospects of the industry in Malta. Dr John Refalo from the Federation of Maltese Aquaculture Producers discussed difference aspects of the aquaculture industry in Malta, and the challenges lying ahead, in particular vis-à-vis tuna farming.
Mr Joseph Chetcuti, Director General of Customs Malta highlighted how customs procedures may be further improved while the cruise industry in Malta and its prospects in the future formed the basis of the presentation delivered by Mr Mark Cauchi Galizia from Valletta Cruise Port.
In his concluding remarks, MMF Chairman Dr Joe Borg expressed his satisfaction at what the Forum managed to achieve so far. He then outlined the main objectives of the MMF saying that, “It is important to upgrade the standards in education of this industry. Where gaps have been identified, we are willing to provide for them because we firmly believe that a better educated and trained workforce means a stronger industry.” He also spoke about the importance that the stakeholders speak with one voice, so that the Forum is able to present a common position endorsed by everyone to authorities. Dr Borg emphasised the importance of cooperating closely with authorities and institutions, many of which they have already signed memoranda of understanding with them. “Now the challenge is to give life to this memoranda, and for this we seek the active involvement of our members,” he said. Finally Dr Borg stressed that MMF is working hard to build a strong international presence. “Our sector is by nature international, and we need to move a pari passum with our counterparts abroad, thus ensuring a stronger position.”