An information session on initiatives in favour of family businesses was held jointly between the Family Business Office, the Ministry for Gozo and the Gozo Business Chamber. During this session, there were a number of interventions, including by the President of the Gozo Business Chamber Joseph Borg, the Regulator of the Family Business Office Joseph Gerada, as well as the Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana. This event was also attended by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne.
In his intervention, Minister Chris Fearne stressed the importance of small enterprises which are family owned, and how the government is committed to continue assisting these business entities’ progress. He highlighted their importance for the national economy, and the need to continue providing them with the required assistance, so that they are able to compete on a level playing field with larger business entities, which leads to a more sustainable economy. He praised the initiatives being taken by the Ministry for Gozo in this area, and the significant work being done by the Ministry so that new initiatives targeting the Gozitan economy are formulated.
In her closing speech, the Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana highlighted how the opening of a branch of the Family Business Office in Gozo is only one of the initiatives being undertaken to continue to enhance the Gozitan economy. Initiatives currently in the pipeline also include incentives for companies to relocate to Gozo, initiatives to attract private companies’ back office work to Gozo, and also initiatives to incentivise companies, enabling them to provide teleworking to Gozitan employees. This, apart from other existing initiatives, such as the Gozo Employment Scheme, and the financial assistance provided to manufacturing concerns based in Gozo to transport goods and raw materials between the two islands. She also highlighted how the Ministry for Gozo is currently working to publish all the information on financial incentives related to Gozo in one place. Minister Justyne Caruana remarked how the Ministry for Gozo is a one-stop-shop for a number of services. One can also find representatives from Malta Enterprise and Malta Industrial Parks at the Ministry for Gozo. In the coming weeks, an office of the Malta Financial Services Authority will also be opening in Gozo.
In his address, the President of the Gozo Business Chamber Joseph Borg stressed the importance of the Family Business Act, that came into force on the 1st of January, 2017. He highlighted how the Gozo Business Chamber has always believed that the introduction of this type of legislation would strengthen the structure of Gozitan business entities. This is because, in Gozo, more than in Malta, business entities are relatively small and family owned. The Gozo Business Chamber has always promoted the incentives related to this legislation, by organising individual one-to-one meetings with the Family Business Office.
Dr Joseph Gerada, while outlining the importance of family businesses, highlighted how one of the objectives of the European Commission is to create a regulatory framework which facilitates the transfer of family businesses. Family businesses make up around 70 to 95% of all commercial entities. He said that 98% of businesses in Malta are small and medium enterprises, the majority of which are family businesses. Dr Gerada provided an overview of the legislation and existing incentives, and stressed the importance of family businesses being educated in order to enhance their knowledge of these areas. He finally announced that, through an initiative being undertaken by the Ministry for Gozo, a branch of the Family Business Office will open in the Ministry for Gozo. A trained person will be able to help Gozitan family businesses in all aspects of the family business legislation.