Minister Carmelo Abela remarked that the MCESD should be more proactive and relevant by discussing – amongst other points – how Malta can strengthen its position, as a place where the testing of new technological solutions can take place prior to these being exported to larger markets. The Minister made these remarks during a Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) meeting held between the government and representatives for both employers and employees. Those present discussed the participation of social partners in the digital economic transformation in our islands. Minister Carmelo Abela described this as the future of the economy; a future which is relatively close to our present. He identified the digital economy, as well as the building of a sustainable and resilient Maltese economy, as the types of economy which could support and help the country go through difficult situations, in case it is – once again – afflicted by external major factors.
The Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister who is responsible for social dialogue mentioned that he held various meetings with social partners, during which the partners expressed their wish for Malta to be in this position, that of a Beta Island. Being a Beta Island means that Malta would essentially serve as a space where innovative technological projects are tested, before these are offered to larger markets. Malta is an already known test base in various sectors. In the past, it has served as a test market for cellular telephony and other technologies. Minister Carmelo Abela noted that one needs to recognise the tough competition which characterises this sector on an international level.
In Minister Abela’s words, “Maltese people have always been innovative. Therefore, I encourage you to contribute to today’s discussion and to send us your feedback. This to ensure that the role of the MCESD, as set out by law, is being fulfilled in an appropriate manner.”
When referring to the digital sector, he said that this may be used to diversify Malta’s economy. This by investing more in certain sectors such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cryptocurrency, internet of things, as well as technologies which are related to the space sector. He also mentioned the importance of being innovative, stating that, although there were improvements in relation to this point, more needs to be done. By way of example, he mentioned the possibility of testing pilot projects in our country which can then be implemented in other countries if successful.
During his intervention, Minister Carmelo Abela mentioned that government is considering diversification, not only in relation to the economy, but also in relation to its commercial partners. He said that government had already announced that it will be assisting businesses based in Malta to export their products to different parts of the world, including Africa and Latin America. The Minister also mentioned how the government is considering diversification of commercial partners as a means to build significant relationships which can prove to be useful in future circumstances where issues in supply chains – such as those which happened in other countries – could arise.
Minister Abela made reference to sustainable development and to how the intention is to base economic recovery on the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. He remarked that the latest statistics issued earlier on this year, indicate that Malta ranks 32 out of 166 countries in relation to the implementation of these goals.
In his concluding remarks, Minister Carmelo Abela thanked Mr John Bencini for his contribution as Chair of the MCESD during these past seven years. He mentioned how, under Mr Bencini’s leadership, a number of different goals were reached, providing a solid base for more work and development to be carried out within the Council, including its administration.
Economists Kirsten Cutajar Miller and Kearon Bruno presented technical explanations of what this can offer to the country, as well as about sustainable and digital economy. They spoke about new economic niches that the country may explore and how a new preparatory platform could be created. This, whilst allowing other traditional economic sectors such as tourism, to continue flourishing. They added that investing in these two sectors would help the country to remain competitive when compared to other larger countries.