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THE COMMERCIAL/62

COURIER THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS MAGAZINE OF THE MALTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, ENTERPRISE AND INDUSTRY SINCE 1947

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

Star attraction

Fort St Elmo’s return to glory

NEWSPAPER POST GOLD COLLABORATING PARTNERS

IN THIS ISSUE SPOTLIGHT ON GOVERNMENT’S REVAMPED RESIDENCY AND VISA PROGRAMME / THE LATEST ON CHOGM AND THE UPCOMING COMMONWEALTH BUSINESS FORUM / BUDGET 2016 SPECIAL / PRESIDENT MARIE LOUISE COLEIRO ON HER AGENDA AND WORK AS HEAD OF STATE / A LAST WORD WITH OUTGOING HSBC CEO MARK WATKINSON / IN THE STUDIO WITH PROFESSOR RICHARD ENGLAND / THE LATEST BUSINESS NEWS


THE COMMERCIAL/62

COURIER OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

93.

food trends

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10 COVER STORY

87 INTERVIEW

GOVERNMENT’S REVAMPED RESIDENCY PROGRAMME: GOOD NEWS FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES?

“I LEAVE MALTA WITH A SENSE OF OPTIMISM ABOUT THE DIRECTION OF THE ECONOMY”

Sarah Micallef speaks to local Real Estate leaders about how Government’s recently launched revamped residency and visa programme stands to affect the economy and local business.

Outgoing CEO and Director of HSBC Malta Mark Watkinson speaks to Sarah Micallef about his time on the island and what the future holds for him, the bank and the local economy ahead of his new post as CEO for HSBC Bermuda.

17 COVER STORY CHOGM: BUSINESS IN FOCUS With CHOGM drawing nearer, Jo Caruana discovers the fantastic array of speakers who will be sharing their knowledge at the Commonwealth Business Forum set to be held between 24th and 26th November.

24 INTERVIEW LEADING BY EXAMPLE Martina Said meets President of Malta, H.E. Marie Louise Coleiro Preca at her official residence to find out about her office’s most recent achievements, her belief in the importance of communities, and the Community Chest Fund’s new status as a foundation.

30 BUDGET SPECIAL “THE CHAMBER IS ALL FOR BETTER ENFORCEMENT, BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF ITS MEMBERS” President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry Anton Borg shares his views following the 2016 Budget speech with Martina Said.

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style review

95 DESIGN TRENDS

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A STAR ATTRACTION RESTORED

52 MEET THE ARTIST “I DON’T WANT REALITY, I WANT MAGIC” Sarah Micallef interviews celebrated architect Prof. Richard England about the lesser known side of his artistic career: discussing sculpture, photography, poetry and drawing.

85 IN FIGURES THE BUDGET 2016… IN NUMBERS A look into the figures related to the recently announced Budget 2016.

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Following the completion of an extensive restoration project, Martina Said meets conservation architect at Heritage Malta Daphne Fenech to find out about Fort St Elmo’s glorious reinstatement.

105 INTERVIEW BEYOND LIMITS Inspire cycling champion and KPMG Audit Partner Hilary Galea-Lauri tells MarieClaire Grima about his incredible 1,600km bike ride from the southernmost part of the United Kingdom to its uppermost village in order to raise funds for local NGO Inspire.

stablished in 1947, The Commercial Courier is the official magazine of the The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. It is the leading business magazine, having one of the best distribution channels in the sector. The publication is distributed for free to the members of the The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. It is also distributed with The Malta Business Weekly as well as delivered to leading business people on the island.

The Exchange, Republic Street, Valletta VLT1117 Tel: +356 2123 3873 Fax: +356 2124 5223 info@maltachamber.org.mt www.maltachamber.org.mt

Articles appearing in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.

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ON THE COVER Detail shot of the chapel ceiling within Fort St Elmo. Photo by Steven Psaila

Malta chamber’s bronze collaborating partners OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

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CC Editorial

“The Malta Chamber expresses its disappointment at the manner in which the Eco Contribution system was changed to an Excise Tax system on a number of products.”

Budget 2016 – a mixed bag The annual Budget is an opportunity for Government to take stock of the economic and financial direction it is heading towards, and make the necessary adjustments in order to stay on track, as well as inject new energy in the required areas. The Budget for 2016, in the Malta Chamber’s view, elicited mixed feelings, as it proposed positive measures in certain areas, while it fell short of taking action in others.

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he underlying priorities of the 2016 Budget were evidently fiscal consolidation, strong economic growth and better living standards for all. These priorities are similar to the objectives the Chamber itself proposed during its active participation in the pre-budget consultation process, and in fact they are welcome. From a macro point of view, the data for the Maltese economy in general remains encouraging, but the country must not allow for any complacency and must at all costs ensure that no slippages take place in any area, with special focus on public finances, labour market policies and practices, and partnerships with the private sector. In this regard, the Malta Chamber warns that while it is understandable for society to enjoy the benefits of economic prosperity, this needs to take place in full recognition of the private sector’s role in the generation of wealth in the economy. The Chamber welcomes the efforts being made in the area of better regulation, in particular the promise to address the

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

country’s ease of doing business rankings, updating bankruptcy legislation, streamlining tendering procedures and reducing the performance guarantees from 10 per cent to four per cent for contracts below €500,000 in value. Furthermore, the Chamber positively notes the newly announced programmes for business to be administered by Malta Enterprise, the possible re-establishment of an export credit guarantee scheme as well as the furthering of Public Private Partnerships in the health care sector, and the upkeep of industrial zones, tourist areas and parking facilities in Mosta and Marsascala. In the field of transport and infrastructure, the Chamber is eager to engage in discussions with the authorities on the transport of workers. The Chamber welcomes new grant schemes to encourage further use of electric transport, the 30 per cent increase in the allocation for road maintenance and the Malta-Gozo underground link. Nevertheless, the Chamber augurs

that these initiatives fit within a holistic masterplan which the Chamber proposed. As the Chamber has recently stated publicly, the solutions to Malta’s traffic problems lie in the urgent and careful identification of sustainable transport solutions where various modes of transportation are seamlessly integrated to provide smooth mobility. The long-term solutions to the problem do not lie in a series of knee-jerk reactions. With regards to the announced second phase of the Eco Contribution reform, the Malta Chamber expresses its disappointment at the manner in which the Eco Contribution system was changed to an Excise Tax system on a number of products. In spite of the Chamber’s repeated calls during the pre-budget consultation process for Government to avoid any surprises in the Budget speech that could bring business to a standstill, the Government forged ahead in announcing this measure without any consultation on this matter. The Chamber supports the principle of transforming the Eco Contribution regime into a more efficient and enforceable form of taxation but besides being easier to enforce, one cannot classify this Budget measure as efficient. This is because responsible operators that self-complied or subscribed to a private waste management scheme to recover and recycle their packaging waste were exempt from Eco Contribution. Unless the same exemption will also apply on Excise Tax, the measure 07


CC Editorial

“The price hike [on fuels] is considered by Chamber as an avoidable measure that will only serve to undermine Malta’s competitiveness.”

will impose an additional tax burden on lawabiding operators. The Chamber maintains that the announced measure is also environmentally counter-productive because if the tax burden on products increases, contraband will be rendered more attractive. If illicit trade persists, the country will continue to suffer from waste, particularly packaging, that is unaccounted for and for which no one assumes responsibility. With all its defects, Eco Contribution was correctly intended to raise the necessary resources for the country to address the negative externalities created by the packaging waste placed on the market. With the announced shift, the tax element has seemingly shifted from the package to the product contained in the package. This, in the Chamber’s view, is fundamentally wrong because the tax has become detached from its environmental purpose and will now serve as general taxation and another source of revenue for Government without really addressing the point on packaging waste recovery or the usage of more environmentally friendly packaging such as

returnable packaging. From a competitive point of view, the Chamber could not but express its disagreement with the increase in duties on fuels. The Chamber has warned time and time again, that governments need to refrain from actively generating self-induced costs on the country’s competitiveness over and above those limitations that are extraneous to our control. This is one such example. The increase in duty on fuels seems to raise the minimum level of prices somewhat permanently and will be a threat to competitiveness rather than keep vehicles off the roads. The price hike is therefore considered by Chamber as an avoidable measure that will only serve to undermine Malta’s competitiveness. Chamber does not accept the argument that it is a traffic mitigating measure. Commercial vehicles have no choice but to operate on the roads to provide their services. Furthermore, the Malta Chamber is disappointed to note that there were no measures to lower energy tariffs for business – the Chamber’s prime recommendation

prior to this year’s Budget. It is feared that this fact may support the further gradual erosion of Malta’s competitive position in cost-sensitive sectors relative to other regions and states. The Chamber is also disappointed to note that little or no reference was made to the proposals made by the Chamber in the field of Research, Technology, Development and Innovation (RTDI). Backed by several other social partners, the Chamber called for a focus on RTDI as one of the key factors of the country’s competitiveness which can be achieved independently of costs. Malta has missed a valuable opportunity to re-invest part of its proceeds from prosperity in safeguarding a competitive future. In conclusion, the Chamber noted that the 2016 Budget is a mixed bag that follows on previous budgets in a number of areas, though a decline in capital expenditure for 2016 was noted. The Chamber welcomes the announced measures in support of business and better regulation but at the same time, notes with regret that specific measures it proposed were not taken up to the detriment of Malta’s general competitiveness position. On its part, the Malta Chamber is committed to work towards supporting the growth of business, employment and prosperity in Malta. cc


CC COVER STORY

Government’s revamped residency programme: good news for local businesses? Following the launch of Government’s revamped residency and visa programme, Sarah Micallef speaks to local Real Estate leaders about how the scheme stands to affect the economy and local business. 10

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


CC COVER STORY

Photo by viewingmalta.com

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revamped residency and visa programme aimed at attracting international investors to Malta through what Government described as an ‘advantageous’ programme that will grant residency and a visa permitting access to the Schengen area has been recently launched. It has been reported that through the scheme, each individual will spend at least a quarter OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

of a million euro, which Parliamentary Secretary José Herrera maintains “will be invested in the creation of more jobs, the training of workers, embellishment projects, the engagement of more nurses and investment in education.” Kevin Buttigieg, CEO & Managing Director for Re/Max Malta outlines how Government’s newly launched residency

and visa programme can help businesses, explaining that it will attract middle to highend individuals and businesses to establish themselves locally, and indeed has already done so. “It is introducing a stream of high-end, high-earning individuals on both a professional and financial level. Hence, one could easily say that there has been movement and changes in our workforce, introducing new positions into the market; changes that are allowing local companies to grow both locally and overseas,” he says. Certainly, as Mr Buttigieg continues, with this comes spending power, and with the number of new companies setting up locally, “we have seen an increase in expenditure and increase in demand towards property rentals as well as increase in developments built for rental purposes.” He goes on to point out that this has, in turn, also spiked an increase in the properties bought-to-let market, as well as an increase in the onceprevalent trend of buying these investments on plan. “We have also seen that this scheme is appealing and has attracted people coming from war-torn countries seeking alternative residence for their families. They are high net-worth individuals that fit the target market profile we are trying to attract towards Malta,” he states. Meanwhile, Sara Grech, President and CEO at Engel & Völkers Sara Grech brings another dynamic to the equation, explaining that the newly revamped residency and visa scheme can further help economic growth by enabling Government to invest in the islands’ infrastructure, so as to be able to attract more residents and tourists while retaining the residents and tourists it already has. “Government can also invest in the creation of new jobs, train its workers and invest in the education system which would all help further economic growth. One of the best investments the Government can organise is retirement planning,” she maintains. 11


CC COVER STORY

“Investors from Asia, Russia and America coming into Europe, which gives them easy access to the EU. Our Engel & Völkers network provides all offices full details of each county’s benefits and schemes, which enable our properties locally to be available instantly globally.” Sara Grech, President and CEO at Engel & Völkers Sara Grech

The new programme is not the first of its kind. Starting with a scheme entitled the Permanent Residence Scheme, which was suspended by the previous government and replaced by the High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) Scheme in 2011; it proved unpopular and was replaced by a Global Residence Programme in 2013. With the 2013 scheme suffering the same fate, a revamped programme was drafted in consultation with the Opposition and stakeholders. The revamped scheme features prices that are higher than those of the previous programme, stating that the value of immovable property bought in Malta by foreigners has to be at least €320,000, while the minimum value for property is in the south of Malta or in Gozo for €270,000. Applicants can choose to rent property in Malta for a yearly minimum of €12,000 or in southern Malta or Gozo for a minimum of €10,000. Additionally, beneficiaries must also make periodic investments as determined by Identity Malta at an initial value of €250,000 and a contribution of €30,000. Further to this, applicants must also prove that their annual income stands at €100,000, or that they hold a minimum capital of €500,000. The scheme is also to be differentiated from the controversial Individual Investor Programme (IIP) of 2013. Highlighting the main differences between this scheme and the IIP, Mr Buttigieg explains that the difference is simple: “the IIP gives the individual applicant Maltese citizenship, making them a Maltese national and allowing them to enjoy the full benefits of a Maltese national in terms of health care, taxation, education and more. This scheme meanwhile allows the applicant to benefit from Maltese nationals’ benefits for the period of five years.” The greatest difference however, according to Mr Buttigieg, is in the price. “The IIP is much more expensive and requires an investment from the applicant in terms of purchasing or letting property within a higher bracket than the residency 12

programme. That said, individuals applying under the residency programme would have a higher propensity to spend more money on property (in terms of value),” he says. Sara Grech also notes that the residency permit is not a work permit, but rather a means of easy access into the Schengen area. Apart from this, contrary to the IIP scheme, she says, “the residency permit will remain in place for as long as the permit holder maintains their investment and retains a clean police conduct.” Asked about the type of clients this scheme would attract, Mr Buttigieg explains

that clients attracted to this scheme would be those individuals who are seeking for an imminent alternative residency for their families, or those investing in a safe haven should something go wrong in their own countries, which would force them to migrate. “These are found to be the medium to high net-worth individuals who hold the safety and comfort of their families as a priority,” he says. Certainly, the scheme, according to Mr Buttigieg, would appeal to those who would like to enjoy European freedom of movement due to the nature of their OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


CC COVER STORY

Photo by viewingmalta.com

“We are being inundated with requests through our partners from overseas, as well as receiving a substantial amount of direct requests through our channels, mostly our websites.” Kevin Buttigieg, CEO & Managing Director for Re/Max Malta business requirements. “The benefits that these people will find if they choose Malta include the quality of our educational system; the high standard and easy access to health services; the ease of relocation due to location and language; the peaceful way of life; and most importantly, a safe environment which is far enough from the dangers back home without being too far away should they need to return,” he adds. On behalf of Engel & Völkers Sara Grech, Ms Grech also maintains that clients which the scheme targets are primarily “investors from Asia, Russia and America coming into Europe, which gives them easy access to the EU. Our Engel & Völkers network provides all offices full details of each county’s benefits and schemes, which enable our properties locally to be available instantly globally.” As for what the feedback received so far has been like, since the scheme’s launch last month, Ms Grech affirms that it has been positive, due to the fact that the residency permit comes with freedom of movement, no OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

death duties, an unusually low tax rate and repatriation of capital and income. Having said this, she adds, “Government can still do more to be heard, so as to ensure the success of the programme offered. We have noticed that not all countries and clients have heard of the revamped scheme.” On the part of Re/Max Malta, Mr Buttigieg also confirms the feedback so far to be positive. “We are being inundated with requests through our partners from overseas, as well as receiving a substantial amount of direct requests through our channels, mostly our websites,” he says. Mr Buttigieg also goes on to add that clients who are currently in Malta are also enquiring about the possibility of being part of the programme. “We also feel positive about this scheme as a business. In fact, we are currently in discussion with Government about improving some aspects of the programme that require more definition and are eagerly waiting for feedback,” he affirms. cc 15


CC CHOGM 2015

CHOGM: Business in Focus With CHOGM now just weeks away, Jo Caruana discovers the outstanding array of speakers who will be sharing their knowledge at the Commonwealth Business Forum – an event to be held between 24th and 26th November, specifically designed to help create a more prosperous Commonwealth.

Lord Marland at Launch (London)

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ll eyes will be on Malta for the next few weeks in the final run-up to CHOGM 2015. After all, the Commonwealth is a unique network of countries that come together at CHOGM to work on some of the world’s most important challenges. Speaking recently and highlighting this, H.E. Rob Luke, the British High Commissioner for Malta, said, “the Commonwealth reflects the ideal that international affairs are not just the business of governments and diplomats, but the common interest of communities and civil society. It provides the Commonwealth’s 2.3 billion people with a global identity to complement their own OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

nationality – an identity built on shared values and history, but one that is also forward-looking and modern.” There will be a huge variety of activities on-going in the days leading up to CHOGM. The Commonwealth People’s Forum (CPF) will be the largest gathering of civil society organisations within the Commonwealth, and it will take place between 23rd and 26th November. The Youth Forum, between

21st and 25th November, will reach out to the 60 per cent of the Commonwealth population that is under 30. Plus, this year’s CHOGM will see the creation of a brand new Women’s Forum between 22nd and 24th November, to raise awareness of women’s issues in Commonwealth countries and show how women’s contributions can have a positive impact politically, economically and socially.

“The Business Forum will analyse the Commonwealth’s position by providing practical and tangible support to help governments and the private sector work together to create prosperity and sustainable economic development across all member countries.” 17


CC CHOGM 2015

Adrian Hillman, Chairperson Commonwealth Business Forum

The Commonwealth Business Forum Malta will also be hosting the Commonwealth Business Forum for the second time (the only country to do so) between 24th and 26th November. This is set to be one of the landmark events in the week leading up to CHOGM and, building on the CHOGM theme of ‘Adding Global Value’, it will analyse the Commonwealth’s position by providing practical and tangible support to help governments and the private sector work together to create prosperity and sustainable

economic development across all member countries. “Over three days, participants will take part in discussions and workshops revolving around the themes of infrastructure, finance, tourism, health, sustainability, technology and maritime,” explains a CHOGM spokesperson. “These themes are considered of high importance – not just on the local level but globally through the Commonwealth’s outreach.” The Business Forum will bring together key speakers such as Heads of Government, Ministers and senior business leaders.

“Confirmed speakers include the Presidents of Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique and Zambia, as well as the Prime Ministers of Malta, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Bangladesh, Lesotho, Mauritius and Papua New Guinea.” 18

Among them, confirmed speakers include the Presidents of Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique and Zambia, as well as the Prime Ministers of Malta, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Bangladesh, Lesotho, Mauritius and Papua New Guinea.

Adrian Hillman, Chairperson Commonwealth Business Forum & Lord Marland at Launch (Malta) OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


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“For those interested in joining in with the Business Forum, organisers have planned a number of networking sessions, with the added possibility of booking meetings in advance with particular participants.”

Tabitha Karanja, CEO of Keroche Breweries in Kenya

“Another speaker of note is Tabitha Karanja, the CEO of Keroche Breweries in Kenya,” he continues. “Keroche Breweries is the second largest brewery in Kenya and the only large-scale brewery in the country actually owned by a Kenyan. She is also the only woman in Africa to have founded a beer company, this being an industry that is largely considered to belong to the big boys. For this reason she was awarded the Forbes Africa Business Woman of the Year 2014.” Among other key-note speakers, Gerard Grech, who is originally from Gozo and is now CEO of TechCity UK, carries a baggage of 15 years’ experience in the world of digital media, web and mobile. “His international experience building digital products and rolling them out in five continents from bases in London, Paris and New York has given him global vision and local

expertise, spanning product development, business strategy and venture capital,” the spokesperson says. “As the CEO of Tech City UK, an organisation focused on accelerating the growth of digital businesses in London and across cities in the UK, he is also a member of the UK Government’s Digital Economy Council and Greater London Authority’s Smart London Board, both of which are focused on economic growth through digital innovation and which will bring a lot of interesting information to the table during CHOGM.” Finally, Paul Manduca, Chairman of international financial services group Prudential plc, will also feature as one of the main speakers. He will deliver a talk on how financial and professional services contribute on delivering jobs and growth. “Co-organised by the Commonwealth

Gerard Grech, CEO of TechCity UK

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“This is a huge chance for Maltese businesses, and one that we hope they will embrace.”

Economic and Investment Council (CWEIC) and the Government of Malta, this Business Forum really is set to provide unrivalled networking opportunities whereby the international business community can identify new business and investment opportunities at country, regional and sector-specific sessions,” he continues. “For the Maltese business community, this Forum will provide a springboard to further widen Malta’s connections. Malta’s position as member of the EU, as well as a member of the Commonwealth, places it in an advantageous position for businesses to flourish in both networks.” For those interested in joining

in with the Business Forum, organisers have planned a number of networking sessions, with the added possibility of booking meetings in advance with particular participants. “Finally, this Forum will provide a platform for brands to be showcased and introduced to a global business audience, thereby meeting potential investors and partners for your projects. This is a huge chance for Maltese businesses, and one that we hope they will embrace,” he concludes. cc To register and for further information, visit https://chogm2015.mt/fora/business, email businessforum@chogm2015.mt or phone 2200 2835/9 during office hours.

Paul Manduca, Chairman of international financial services group Prudential plc

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at the CHOGM official launch. Photo by CHOGM Malta 2015.

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CC CHOGM 2015

Student Design Competition 2nd prize awarded to Visualising the Future of the City – London, The Floating Square Mile By Assia Stefanova – Newcastle University, United Kingdom

Value in what we do By Perit Vincent Cassar, Senior Vice-President of the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA).

The upcoming CHOGM 2015 event in Malta presents to us another ideal platform where governments, national professional representatives and business leaders can develop strong partnerships and promote opportunities that can serve to add value to a wide variety of important issues. Present for the CHOGM 2015 event will be the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) Executive Council members, who will be visiting Malta not only to participate in the various fora associated with the event but also to hold their council meeting. This is of great significance since the CAA had convened its first meeting in June 1965 on the island of Malta. This year, the Association has been marking its 50th anniversary through a number of initiatives primarily held at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London. One of the events held during these celebrations was a two-day international conference entitled ‘Designing City Resilience’, which is the main theme for this year’s Commonwealth People’s

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Forum at CHOGM. Another successful initiative was the organisation of a Student Design Competition among all Schools of Architecture and/or University Architectural Faculties in Commonwealth countries. The submitted designs were exhibited at the RIBA offices in London and will now also be exhibited for public viewing in Malta during the CHOGM event. The objective of the Association always remains that of shaping the science of architecture to address and respond to the changing challenges and demands that exist within and outside the Commonwealth. Our Association carries an obligation not only to support the further development of the Commonwealth but also to support the objectives and achievement of international initiatives, such as Agenda 21, and the crucial move to renewable energy resources. At a local level, over the last 50 years, the Kamra tal-Periti (Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers) has kept a close working relationship with the Association and has always supported its work and function. It will, therefore, be an honour for me, in

March 2016, to assume Presidency of the Association for the period 2016-19. CAA has recently embarked on a process of restructuring and repositioning with a Strategic Plan ‘Vision 2025’ renewing its enduring commitment to the values and principles of the Commonwealth. This vision endorsed the principles of the Commonwealth’s Accord for Enhancing Development Effectiveness and its commitment to the rule of law, good governance, respect for diversity and human dignity, opposition to discrimination, and the promotion of people-centred and sustainable development. These are the guiding values for the CAA’s continued development as we journey through our next decade. We are optimistic that the upcoming CHOGM event and CAA council meeting will serve as an opportunity for the architectural profession to continue to contribute and positively influence the history, culture and fabric of life of every country. This we will do by sharing our stories and experiences that are as diverse as the 2.3 billion people that live within the Commonwealth. cc

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“The executive committee of CORE is currently developing its own Action Plan for 2016 – among its aims, it will be reaching out to SMEs to make them more aware of CSR and sustainable development, and establish synergy on collective or joint projects between companies and NGOs.”

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CC INTERVIEW

Leading by example From the start of her tenure as President of Malta, H.E. Marie Louise Coleiro Preca was determined to make use of her role to improve the well-being of Maltese society. Martina Said meets the President at her official residence to find out about her office’s most recent achievements, her belief in the importance of communities, and the Community Chest Fund’s new status as a foundation.

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t’s been a year and a half since H.E. Marie Louise Coleiro Preca was sworn in as the ninth president of the Republic of Malta, and judging by the achievements of her office so far, she is determined to make every minute count. She briskly enters one of the stately meeting rooms at San Anton Palace, where we met for this interview, keen to get started. She informs me she’s already running a little late for her next appointment, albeit having started her day as early as 4am. This is but one of the defining features of the President – she is a doer and an achiever, and is keen to lead by example. One of her office’s most recent endeavours was that of facilitating the setting up of CORE with the help of the Malta Chamber and other entities, which serves as a national platform for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). “CSR in Malta was widely thought to be a case of large businesses donating money to a charity or cause, but it is more than that. Some local businesses were carrying out CSR without even knowing, while others mistake it for philanthropy. We wanted to bring stakeholders together to create understanding of the real meaning of CSR and give it more visibility too.” She adds that while donating money is certainly part of it, it is not the be all and end all of CSR. “We felt the need for transformative and innovative economic and societal change, as well as a collective effort – with the involvement of companies, investors, stakeholders, Government and civil society – to address issues concerning the environment, depletion of resources, financial pressures and demographic changes.” With this in mind, her office stimulated and supported the creation of a collaborative mechanism to involve enterprises, associations, civil society, as well as any parties interested in reinforcing social cohesion and sustainable economic growth through a sense of citizenship and social responsibility. “I set about establishing a task force with these stakeholders to bring the CORE platform to life. The task force worked with CSR Europe – the European organisation that represents the CSR organisation of 42 countries and more than 10,000 companies – and through our affiliation, we will be participating in CSR Europe’s major annual event this November.” H.E. Coleiro Preca, who is now the patron of CORE, acknowledges the help of expert Maria

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Rauch, who coordinated the setting up of the platform from the Office of the President’s side, as well as the work of former Chamber President and prominent businesswoman Helga Ellul, who was on board the initiative from the very start, and was appointed by the Chamber of Commerce to act as its first president. “I’m very thankful for the work conducted by the Chamber of Commerce, which a number of years back had already taken a number of steps on the matter and was on the right track. Through CORE, we have consolidated a number of initiatives

that had been taken individually by different entities. I’m very pleased to have arrived to where we are now: to have a platform made up of different stakeholders and be affiliated with CSR Europe, ensuring that our approach is not an insular one.” The executive committee of CORE is currently developing its own Action Plan for 2016 – among its aims, it will be reaching out to SMEs to make them more aware of CSR and sustainable development, and establish synergy on collective or joint projects between companies and NGOs.

Photos by Alan Carville

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This initiative is one of many that the President sought to establish at the beginning of her term. She goes on to add that this presidency is concerned with the well-being of society, and the very first structure she set up in June last year – The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society (PFWS) – sought to reflect this. The PFWS works in a two-pronged approach. Seven areas of discussion were 26

identified, relevant to different aspects of Maltese society. “We brought people, whose circumstances are relevant to a particular area of discussion, together around a table to debate issues that matter to them. On the other hand, we established five research institutes to identify areas for further research based on the collective and popular wisdom that emerged from the discussions. This will enable us to bring forward recommendations for our policy-

“We believe in child participation – not only through empowerment programmes which we also encourage, but rather prompting them to analyse what they do and what they would like to see us, as adults, do.”

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CC INTERVIEW makers, and for them to take a more holistic approach towards policy-making, where the well-being of society is concerned.” H.E. Coleiro Preca says children and their well-being form a central part of the Foundation as well as the Presidency at large. Over the course of a few months, she visited over 20 schools and sat down with children of varying ages to find out what matters to them and to encourage them to speak their minds. “We believe in child participation – not only through empowerment programmes which we also encourage, but rather prompting them to analyse what they do and what they would like to see us, as adults, do. They raised a range of issues, from bullying, road safety and traffic to the need to care for the environment and the lack of open spaces available for them to play. To respond to one of their requests, I immediately decided to open the private garden at San Anton Palace to children, and groups now visit every day and participate in organised programmes, namely Aqra Miegħi, organised by the Centre for Literacy at the University of Malta. In October, we hosted the first National Bullying Conference, which brought together international experts on the issue of bullying, to share current research on this issue, mainly targeted towards professionals working directly with children.” Since April this year, the President of Malta set out to elevate the Malta Community Chest Fund (MCCF) to the status of a foundation, for it to be better regulated and accountable. “The Community Chest Fund has been around for 60 years and evolved into what it is today following the input and work of many individuals. I believe in communities, and by turning it into a foundation, it will be better equipped to handle the range of responsibilities that it has taken on board over the years.” The MCCF provides widespread support, ranging from financial to material and professional, to persons suffering from severe chronic illness, including cancer, to persons with disabilities and those living in poverty, to underprivileged children, as well as to the unemployed. “The Fund distributes over a quarter of a million euro every month, the majority of which is spent on specialised chemotherapy treatments. In order to be in a position to provide this support, the MCCF receives donations, contributions and proceeds from fundraising activities, such as the

President’s Solidarity Fun Run and Tisjir mill-Qalb.” Since its start, however, businesses have played a central role in the survival of the MCCF. “The business sector is the main supporter of the MCCF, not only in the form of financial assistance but also by helping in kind. We simply wouldn’t manage to fulfil as many requests each month if it weren’t for business’ donations. I must also acknowledge the generous contributions of the Maltese and Gozitans.” The MCCF has recently launched a time bank, inviting people to donate their time

and expertise, and not just their money, to the Fund. Many businesses have taken this on board as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. In keeping with the MCCF’s proactive approach, it has supported over 100 students to attend vocational education, who due to strained circumstances at home were unable to pursue their studies. “Together with MCAST, we supported these students and helped them achieve their goals. This will ensure that these young people will be fully qualified and have better job opportunities, therefore making them more employable.” cc

“I believe in communities, and by turning the Malta Community Chest Fund into a foundation, it will be better equipped to handle the range of responsibilities that it has taken on board over the years.” OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

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“The Chamber is all for better enforcement, but not at the expense of its members” A shift in the Eco Contribution reform, increase of duty on fuels and other measures threatening to undermine Malta’s competitiveness are among the Chamber’s top concerns following the 2016 Budget speech earlier this month. President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, Anton Borg, shares his views with Martina Said.

“W

hilst overall positive, the current economic snapshot does not offer a justified reason for the country to become complacent about its economic performance,” states Anton Borg, President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, “especially considering that the country’s economic stability rests on the successful implementation of a number of serious reforms.” Following Government’s Budget announcements for 2016, Mr Borg says the Chamber welcomes measures in support of business and better regulation, and is pleased to note that the priorities highlighted in the 2016 Budget speech, namely fiscal consolidation and strong economic growth, are similar to the objectives the Chamber itself proposed during its active participation in this year’s Budget consultation process. “The encouraging data on the economy in general offers prospects of stability and optimism. However, the country cannot afford any slippages, especially in public finances, labour market policies and partnerships with the private sector.” Measures positively-received by Chamber include the newly announced programmes for business to be administered by Malta Enterprise and furthering of Public Private Partnerships in the health care sector; the upkeep of industrial zones, tourist areas and parking facilities in Mosta and Marsascala; the initiative to re-establish an export credit guarantee scheme and the setting up of Malta Marittima, Education Malta and Property Malta, which are conducive towards increasing international business for Maltese companies in sector-specific areas. There are, however, areas which leave much to be desired, specifically the announced second phase of the Eco Contribution reform. “The Malta Chamber is disappointed at the manner in which the Eco Contribution system was changed to an Excise Tax system on a number of 30

products,” asserts Mr Borg. “In spite of the Chamber’s repeated calls during the prebudget consultation process for Government to avoid any surprises in the Budget speech that could bring business to a standstill, the Government forged ahead in announcing this measure without any consultation on the matter.” Mr Borg adds that the Chamber supports the principle of transforming the Eco Contribution regime into a more efficient and

enforceable form of taxation, “but besides being easier to enforce, one cannot classify this Budget measure as efficient. This is because responsible operators that selfcomplied or subscribed to a private waste management scheme to recover and recycle their packaging waste were exempt from Eco Contribution. Unless the same exemption will also apply to Excise Tax, the measure will impose an additional tax burden on lawabiding operators.” OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


CC BUDGET SPECIAL

Photos by Alan Carville

The Chamber maintains that in addition, the announced measure is environmentally counter-productive because if the tax burden on products increases, contraband will be rendered more attractive. Mr Borg says if illicit trade persists, the country will continue to suffer from waste, particularly packaging, that is unaccounted for and for which no one assumes responsibility. “With all its defects, Eco Contribution was correctly intended to raise the necessary OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

resources for the country to address the negative externalities created by the packaging waste placed on the market. With the announced shift, the tax element has seemingly shifted from the package to the product contained in the package. This, in the Chamber’s view, is fundamentally wrong because the tax has become detached from its environmental purpose and will now serve as general taxation and another source of revenue for Government without

“The encouraging data on the economy in general offers prospects of stability and optimism.”

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really addressing the point on packaging waste recovery or the usage of more environmentally friendly packaging such as returnable packaging.” Mr Borg hopes it is to be assumed that, this time round, this retrospective Budget measure was taken as a quick-fix solution to enforce fair competition in the market. “The Chamber is all for better enforcement but not at the expense of its members. Any measure to assist the authorities perform better enforcement must be cost-neutral to the tax compliant operators.” Members of the Chamber will also be affected by the fact that no measures were taken to address the further lowering of energy tariffs for business, which was the Chamber’s prime recommendation prior to this year’s Budget. “It is feared that this may support the further gradual erosion of Malta’s competitive position in cost-sensitive sectors compared to other regions and states. In terms of competitiveness, it is also disappointing to note that little to no mention was made of the proposals made by the Chamber in the field of Research, Technology, Development and Innovation (RTDI). From the Chamber’s point of view, Malta has missed a valuable opportunity to re-invest part of its proceeds from prosperity to safeguard a competitive future.” The increase of duty on fuels, which seems to raise the minimum level of prices somewhat permanently, is, Mr Borg explains, more likely to be a threat to competitiveness rather than keep vehicles off the road. “The price hike is therefore considered to be an avoidable measure that will only serve to undermine Malta’s competitiveness. Chamber does not accept the argument that it is a traffic-mitigating measure. Commercial vehicles have no choice but to operate on the roads to provide their services. The longterm solutions to the problem do not lie in a series of knee-jerk reactions.” Asked to share the Chamber’s view on the reportedly record low levels of unemployment and Budget deficit, Mr Borg states that while the outlook is overall positive, the general economic picture becomes less positive when a wider array of indicators are taken into consideration. He highlights that GDP growth forecasts for 2015 (4.2 per cent) and 2016 (3.6 per cent) outperform the euro area average. However, as underlined in the Budget speech itself, they continue to be mainly influenced by domestic demand and public expenditure. In 2015, net exports are expected to close 32

“Unless the same exemption [that applied to Eco Contribution] will also apply to Excise Tax, the measure will impose an additional tax burden on law-abiding operators… With the announced shift, the tax element has seemingly shifted from the package to the product contained in the package. This, in the Chamber’s view, is fundamentally wrong.”

with a negative contribution to GDP (-1.4 per cent). Further official data included in the Economic Survey published by the Ministry for Finance shows that Malta’s exports of manufactured goods declined by around five per cent between 2013 and 2014 (full year) and again by seven per cent between 2014 and 2015 (January-July). Exports of services, on the other hand, declined by 1.1 per cent in real terms.

“All this, in itself, is a note of caution because domestic demand on its own cannot sustain long-term growth for the country. Lasting economic growth needs to be driven by export-led activity and this requires the country to be competitive,” he asserts. “With regards to unemployment, a low rate like we are currently experiencing offers fresh challenges. For the first time, we have a reality whereby the long-term OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


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“Lasting economic growth needs to be driven by export-led activity and this requires the country to be competitive.”

unemployed amount to more than 50 per cent of the total people currently not in employment. This statistic is worrying and a better understanding of this phenomenon is warranted.” On the other hand, he continues, businesses are already experiencing difficulty in identifying and recruiting personnel for

their job openings. “Many companies are resorting to availing themselves of the international labour market in order to meet their needs. Government must invest further in training and education, in order to provide the skills required for tomorrow’s economy.” The Malta Chamber also welcomes tools such as the Employability Index which was

launched by Government in October, which provides students and policy-makers with a reliable source of information about employment opportunities. “The Malta Chamber is committed to assist Government in sustaining this tool, through its role in the private sector.” With Malta’s economy faring relatively well, Mr Borg says this is the ideal time to continue with the implementation of the Chamber’s Economic Vision for Malta 20142020, specifically the six policy fundamentals which are the ingredients for the economy to sustain the momentum garnered. These are securing the country’s economic prosperity, fostering human development, supporting the further development of business and enterprise, building an innovative infrastructure, investing in infrastructure and the environment, and strengthening Government partnerships with business and enterprise. Looking ahead towards positive forecasts for Malta’s economy for 2016, Mr Borg concludes “this is an opportune time for Government to take the right decisions, invest and introduce measures aimed at galvanising Malta’s position. It is the Chamber’s belief that, all in all, this would provide the opportunity for the country to think long-term and take the right decisions in order to make a quantum leap forward.” cc


CC business

Growing Strong Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a small company bloom into a large-scale enterprise, but it takes fearlessness, ambition and an iron will to see it through. 14 innovators talk to Marie-Claire Grima about the changes they’ve witnessed over the course of their business journeys, the obstacles they have encountered on the way to wider success, and where their vision will take them next.

mario schembri

sarah gauci carlton

Simon camilleri OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

sean cassar

Andrew Bezzina

elaine caruana briffa

Duarte Amado

mario muscat

joe gerada

marcon & joseph lanzon

danica fava

RAY SCHEMBRI

david borg hedley

fabio zampa

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u Sean Cassar, Managing Director and Lead Designer, Design Hub What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? I’m very detail-oriented and I will draw multiple plans within the same project to make sure that everyone understands perfectly what they have to do. This level of perfectionism is almost unheard of in Malta, and at first it made the contractors and craftspeople I work with groan and sigh. However, as we finish more projects together exactly the way we intended to, they have come to appreciate the amount of thought and effort put into each one. Winning Malta’s Best Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 Award was a testament that Design Hub’s ethos is being recognised. What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? Redefining the idea of interior design. It’s a highly underrated discipline – most people think it has to do with choosing curtains and cushions. Those things are

a very superficial part of the entire process. Essentially, it is all about harmonising the space where you are living and working, so that each separate component complements each other. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? My next project will involve designer weddings. People in Malta go to about eight weddings a year, almost always in the same handful of venues, and most of them have almost identical concepts and décor. There’s a lot of scope for creative and offbeat celebrations, especially considering Malta’s growing reputation as a wedding destination. What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? When you’re getting yourself out there, make sure you put your best foot forward and do something that the rest aren’t doing in order to stand out. Malta is small and people talk, so your reputation counts for everything.

“Essentially, interior design is all about harmonising the space where you are living and working in, so that each separate component complements each other.”

u Andrew Bezzina, Director, eCabs What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? When we founded the company, my brother and I were freshly-minted University graduates. People found it hard to believe in us because we didn’t quite fit the transport industry stereotype. Against all odds, we drove our first customer in March 2010, and we’ve never looked back. Since then, we have enjoyed constant and steady growth, ruffling feathers and giving competitors a run for their money.

“The three pillars our business is built on – IT, real estate and human resources – had to be built from the ground up.”

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What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? The three pillars our business is built on – IT, real estate and human resources – had to be built from the ground up. No other Maltese cab company had invested in IT before we set up shop, while project managing and building an office block fully tailored to our needs in the Paceville-St Julian’s area is no joke. Meanwhile, from an HR perspective, the transport industry was still in its embryonic stage.

What do you envision as the next stage for the company? Building on what we have, while strengthening what already exists. We envision that the industry will continue growing and we are also open to tap into other sectors within the same industry. However, we don’t want to fall into the trap of neglecting what got us started – the cab. Who knows, come 2025 we might be tendering for the new bus service! What advice would you give to people who are thinking of expanding their own business? Our educational system and culture can be discouraging to potential entrepreneurs. The key is to surround yourself with the right people, who complement your own qualities. The power of unity within a team, as we have at eCabs, makes no challenge insurmountable.

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u Mario Schembri, CEO, Greenpak Cooperative Society Ltd

“Never underestimate how strongly attached people remain to outdated ways of doing business, even when an obviously better option is staring them right in the face.”

What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? When Malta joined the European Union in 2004, it became the responsibility of companies selling goods to recycle the packaging generated by their business, and quick solutions were needed. With the endorsement of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, I developed GreenPak – a business-friendly recycling solution tailored to the local market. However, back then, only ten companies out of all the businesses in Malta understood what we were all about. Today, GreenPak is not only synonymous with sterling recycling performance, providing recycling services to 72 per cent of the population, but its model has also been adopted into Government policy to address different waste streams. What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? Changing Malta’s attitude towards recycling was very challenging. We had to convince the authorities that environmental taxation

does not lead to better environmental performance, and communicate to business leaders that taking responsibility for recycling the waste generated through trade made good business sense. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? Our next big challenge is the recycling of electrical and electronic waste. We are also seeing growth in the number of companies joining the Cooperative, which can only bode well for the future of Malta’s circular economy. What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? Never underestimate how strongly attached people remain to outdated ways of doing business, even when an obviously better option is staring them right in the face. Offer them solutions which allow them to not only get things right first time round, but which also make business sense in the immediate future and in the long run.

u Elaine Caruana Briffa, Director of Operations and Administration, Creative Refurbishing Centre (Malta) Ltd What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? The original company, founded in 1993, offered a very limited range of products, consisting mainly of storage shelving and pick-and-mix containers. However, as time went by, the need to cater for a wider range of shop fittings arose, and consequently, a new company was officially registered five years later – CRC (Malta) Ltd. In a matter of weeks, we established contacts with various specialised suppliers from all over the world, chose the best brands and products the world market could offer, and started importing and distributing them at very competitive prices. CRC is now a one-stop shop for whoever wants to start up or refurbish any type of retail outlet, catering establishment, office, store or private residence. What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? Finding an optimal location, equipment and skilled tradesmen to satisfy the increasing

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demand for customised products was the most challenging aspect of the expansion. Another challenge worth mentioning is the ever-growing competition stemming from the huge amount of low-quality products that are being made available locally. Price competition is healthy, as long as standards are maintained. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? The company is now focused on tapping the residential sector, particularly through its wide range of aperture solutions. The company is about to launch its new display of internal, external, security, fire and garage doors. What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? All lines of communication with clients have to be clear and concise. Once orders are confirmed, delivery and installation should be as quick as possible. And of course, I can never emphasize enough the importance of good manners shown by all company front liners when dealing with clients.

“Price competition is healthy, as long as standards are maintained.”

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u Duarte Amado, Managing Director, SpotOn Connections Recruitment Solutions What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? SpotOn Connections forms part of the Connections Recruitment Group founded in 2009. After running an established and successful iGaming recruitment firm in Malta, we noticed a gap in the market to provide the same qualitydriven recruitment consultancy services to the local industries. Since then, we have implemented our own proven and successful recruitment model, and have enjoyed immediate success. What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? Recruitment takes an experienced and dedicated team, strong lines of communication, a structured process, strong ethics and transparency at every step. The growth of our business has been exponential from day one, but our focus has always been on continuously developing the quality and getting to know the market.

What do you envision as the next stage for the company? With our place in the market as a leading recruitment provider firmly established here in Malta, the next step for our international and multilingual team was a natural one – international development. Having proven that our recruitment model was transferable to different markets, we decided to take this to the next step and implement it within the European market. It is now well under way, and we look forward to developing our present success further in 2016, when we will be expanding not only the team but also our offices, with new international recruitment headquarters due to open in Portugal in 2016! What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? Your best customers/business are your existing clients, not your potentials.

“Recruitment takes an experienced and dedicated team, strong lines of communication, a structured process, strong ethics and transparency at every step.”

u Mario Muscat, Managing Director, OzoSystem Ltd

“We’re very proud of the fact that we are the first in the industry to obtain the ISO 9001:2008 for Quality Management Systems and also the first to own a state-of-the-art cleaning and service training academy.”

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What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? OzoSystem was founded in 1996, operating from a small office in my son’s bedroom. Our main activities were upholstery and soffit cleaning, but from the very first day I believed that to excel on such a small island, we had offer quality services and customer care, and invest in employee training. Since then, OzoSystem has become a household name as one of the leading cleaning, hospitality and service outsourcing companies on the island, with a 1,000-strong workforce. We’re very proud of the fact that we are the first in the industry to obtain the ISO 9001:2008 for Quality Management Systems and also the first to own a stateof-the-art cleaning and service training academy. Recently we were crowned National Champions for Growth Strategy in the European Business Awards and are now contenders for the ELITE Growth Strategy of the Year in Europe representing Malta.

What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? Every business has its fair share of obstacles and difficult decisions to be taken, but nothing that sheer determination, hard work and our drive to succeed couldn’t overcome. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? We have plans to expand in manufacturing our own line of amenities related to the tourism and hospitality industry. Another objective is to expand the brand internationally in Europe and in the Middle East. What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? Although Malta is a small island, we are blessed with a healthy economic climate. However, every business needs a concrete strategy, as well as driven and determined employees to stay one step ahead of the game. Believe in your dreams and do what it takes to fulfil them.

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u Sarah Gauci Carlton, Commercial Manager, Creek Developments Plc

“Creek is now the biggest marina in Malta and one of the largest in the Mediterranean, and our workforce includes a full cohort of expert marine assistants who can spot a problem and resolve it as quickly as possible.”

What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? We started out in January 2011 with a staff of three people doing everything from office work to lugging toolboxes around and fixing planks. Creek is now the biggest marina in Malta and one of the largest in the Mediterranean, and our workforce includes a full cohort of expert marine assistants who can spot a problem and resolve it as quickly as possible. The establishment of Creek couldn’t have happened without the help of several marina users who pitched in to be company shareholders, allowing us to put up a bid for the company when Transport Malta put up a tender. We’ve never forgotten this and we’re doing our best to repay the leap of faith they took in us. What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? Suspicion and reluctance to change. People would sometimes rather stick to what they’re

used to, even if it’s not very good. It’s up to you to win their trust by proving that you can do better. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? Consolidating what we’ve done so far. We’ve moved past bringing the marina up to standard, and it is now at its peak. The next stage will involve improving the quality of our services and providing a wider range of options and facilities for our clients. We’re not satisfied with being the best in Malta – we want to be the best around. What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? Back up your words with actions. Follow all your promises through, instead of trying to do everything at one go, and make sure the foundations are solid before you build any further.

u Joe Gerada, Managing Director, Thomas Smith What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? When I joined Thomas Smith, I found a company very close to bankruptcy. It was employing 26 people when it had not enough activity to justify 10 and its bank overdraft was utilised to 90 per cent of its limit. It had no sales and marketing activity at all, no client base to speak of, and a workforce which was busy enjoying its summer half days. It was a total do-or-die: we had to be very drastic in cutting all unnecessary costs, finding new business activities, and changing the total culture of the workforce. We had to rediscover what the potentials of the principles we represented were and be very creative in generating new business with them in spite of very limited resources. We are now within the top three companies providing the whole range of shipping facilities, in terms of size, profitability and level of service.

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What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? The shipping agency business is highly volatile, and our growth was achieved through generating new business faster than we lost old business, which happens quite often. Receiving news from your principal that forces you to dismantle everything and retreat from your position is one of the most difficult aspects of expanding the business, because it involves breaking bad news to staff. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? We are aiming for consolidation in the local market and regional expansion. What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? Stay excited and enthusiastic but also realistic. Stay grounded and respect your staff and your clients – that’s what it’s all about.

“We are now within the top three companies providing the whole range of shipping facilities, in terms of size, profitability and level of service.”

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u Marcon and Jospeh Lanzon, Owners, bits & bytes What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? bits & bytes started out as a little shop in our own house, fuelled by Joseph’s passion for computer technology. It was like our new baby (although we had a human one on the way too!) From then on, bits & bytes grew quite quickly. Our stores were always full, our workforce grew, and consequently, so did the shop. Times change too – at the start of our business, e-commerce was only a dream, but as soon as internet use became widespread in Malta, we had a website up and running. What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? Growing businesses are quite unpredictable. You don’t really know how many people need to be on sales, how much stock you must have and how much time you need to keep up. But we stayed on top of it all by knowing our

products and what our customers needed, and working hard to bridge the gap between them. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? It’s more about continuous small steps rather than a next stage, but over the years we’ve been focusing more on our website. We move with the needs of the Maltese market, and more importantly, with the needs of our customers. What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? We decided early on that our business had to be one that cared for its customers, hence our motto ‘We don’t just sell you the products and kiss you goodbye. We care.’ Word spreads when people like the way you handle business, so make customers your priority and ensure they have nothing but good things to say about you and your company.

“We don’t just sell you the products and kiss you goodbye. We care.”

u Danica Fava, Managing Director, Outdoor Living Ltd What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? When Outdoor Living started off in 2004, team-building events in Malta were a new concept, and many people had no clue what such activities entailed. Back then, our market was mainly conference and incentive groups which came to Malta for a different and fun travel experience, whilst improving the relationships between colleagues. We are now the largest team-building events company on the island, and have handled the biggest such event organised locally, in which over 1,000 people took part.

“We are now the largest team-building events company on the island, and have handled the biggest such event organised locally, in which over 1,000 people took part.” 46

What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? One of the most challenging journeys was for us to get the Catalyst Global exclusive license for Malta. As an organisation spanning over 40 countries worldwide, Catalyst makes sure that all their licensees are capable of delivering their team events to a very high standard. It was quite a long process, but we’re now very happy to be part of such a prestigious organisation.

What do you envision as the next stage for the company? We plan to continue growing within the local market. There are still many organisations that have never experienced team-building events, and we want to build a culture where such events are an integral part of the budgeting and training process of any organisation. What advice would you give to people who are thinking of expanding their own business? Never forget your customers – keep them in mind at all stages. Love and enjoy what you do, as that reflects on your performance. And of course, don’t forget your employees – it’s important that you make them feel trusted and empowered, as they are the ones to help your business go further.

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u Simon Camilleri, CEO, CreditInfo Malta

“Within the last four years, we’ve doubled in size. People are finally realising that when it comes to trading, you have to know who you’re dealing with.”

What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? When we started out back in 2002, there was no concept of risk management in Malta. People used to rely on the old ‘everybody knows everybody’ axiom, thinking that it extends to people’s private financial affairs, and we were treated with great suspicion. However, since joining the EU, Malta’s foreign investments have flourished, and local businesses have had to learn how to do business in line with global standards, where risk management is a cornerstone of trading. Within the last four years, we’ve doubled in size. People are finally realising that when it comes to trading, you have to know who you’re dealing with. What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? I would have to say dealing with the cultural

stubbornness. People in Malta are used to following their gut when it comes to doing business – a man will forgive his friend a thousand debts but take someone he doesn’t like to court for one missed payment. That’s no way to do business, especially within the context of the global economy. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? We’d like to show people that risk management is not just a box they have to tick – it makes their company or business more secure and transparent, and therefore more attractive to invest in. What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? Going down the same route over and over just because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ will only lead to stagnation. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – just make sure you learn from them.

u Fabio Zampa, Managing Director, Frank Zampa Jewellery What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? Our business was established in 1804 by Giuseppe Zampa, who was born in Rome. Some 80 years ago my grandfather, Frank Zampa, joined the family business at the tender age of 15. From then on the enterprise took his name and started growing into the prestigious brand synonymous with quality and fine craftsmanship that we know today. Six generations after its establishment, the company is now run by my father Renato, along with my sister Loredana and myself. Constantly striving for excellence, our company has always had the most prestigious standing within the Maltese market, and we have been able to keep up with the various changes in trends throughout the years by always keeping our customers’ needs in mind.

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What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? The hardest part was our fight to find nothing but the best. Throughout the years we have not only been able to work with the finest gem dealers in Israel and Antwerp, but we have also been able to obtain our own workshop in Italy with exquisite designers and craftsmen, besides our own workshop in Malta. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? We plan to move into custom-made jewellery, which will help us attract a younger, more fashion-conscious clientele whilst pleasing older generations who want something more personal and sentimental. What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? Make full customer satisfaction your priority – this will allow you to develop a reputation for trustworthiness and good value. Combine it with passion and dedication, and your business is sure to grow.

“Throughout the years we have not only been able to work with the finest gem dealers in Israel and Antwerp, but we have also been able to obtain our own workshop in Italy with exquisite designers and craftsmen, besides our own workshop in Malta.” 49


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u Ray Schembri, CEO, Rayair Automation What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? When Rayair started back in 1983, it used to manufacture minor but important items such as shipping container metal seals, jigs and fixtures. Despite their miniature size, these items had to possess a certain degree of precision and security, due to security considerations. In these early days, I found help from a friend by the name of Joseph Attard, the Managing Director of a local company who offered me space in his plant. Though small by today’s requirements, it was enough to branch out and diversify from Rayair’s original production line. Since 2000, Rayair Automation has been operating from its own factory, designing, manufacturing and assembling original equipment ranging from fully automated assembly lines to high-precision vision-guided robots.

What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? Making the decision to expand your business is not an easy decision to take. One must always plan carefully, and there must also be cooperation from different parties in order to make this possible. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? We’re looking forward to the next couple of years, where we will be expanding our business both locally and overseas, and investing even more heavily in research, development and marketing. What advice would you give to people who are thinking of expanding their own business? Do not ever give up. Stay true to yourself and with practicality, patience and persistence, you will beat any difficulties you may face and achieve your dreams. Look after your customers – only through their trust and support in your services and expertise will your business be able to grow.

“Look after your customers – only through their trust and support in your services and expertise will your business be able to grow.”

u David Borg Hedley, General Manager, Fexserv Financial Services Ltd

“For the two decades since its establishment, Fexserv has been at the forefront of innovation in the financial services arena.”

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What’s the most striking difference between the way the company started off and the way it is now? Fexserv Financial Services started its operations as Fexco Malta in 1995, shortly after the Financial Institutions Act was enacted. A joint venture was set up with Fexco in Ireland offering wholesale foreign exchange services. During the early years we went through a massive culture change as this business was primarily dominated by the banks. However this did not daunt us, instead we imported the know-how from Ireland till we could stand on our own two feet. We started by offering a foreign money exchange service, then slowly began to introduce other services such as Western Union Money transfer, travel money and bank payments. Through these services as well as the One4all Gift voucher, Fexserv nowadays enjoys an excellent reputation in the market and has become a household name. What was the most difficult part of expanding your business? Economies of scale in Malta were at times one of the hardest hurdles to overcome. Nonetheless with sound planning and

determination, we have reached our targets and intend on keeping the momentum. What do you envision as the next stage for the company? For the two decades since its establishment, Fexserv has been at the forefront of innovation in the financial services arena. Twenty years ago we provided Maltese customers with an alternative way to service their foreign exchange requirements. Eleven years ago we introduced an original way of gifting, through the One4all Gift Voucher. And in January next year, we promise yet another innovative new product. What advice would you give those who wish to expand their own business? Our mission statement encompasses most of what one would prescribe as advice. We strive to provide the highest level of financial services in a friendly and professional manner, to provide value added to our customers, whilst maintaining sound financial management practices in order to sustain earnings for our continued growth, and to provide our employees with a challenging and rewarding career. cc

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


CC meet the artist

“I don’t want reality, I want magic” While Prof. Richard England is widely known as the celebrated architect associated with major projects like the Central Bank, Millennium Chapel and Parliament, what many may not know is that architecture is not his sole artistic medium. An artist in every sense, Prof. England has also explored several media over the years, including sculpture, photography, poetry and drawing. Sarah Micallef catches up with him in his studio.

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Photo by Alan Carville

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s I sit across from Prof. Richard England in his eclectic home studio, surrounded by drawings and architectural designs, flanked by hundreds of books and opera recordings (of which he is an avid collector), the thought occurs to me that he is, in the classic sense, truly a Renaissance man. Following in the footsteps of his architect father, Prof. England recalls growing up with the idea that he too would be an architect someday, yet upon embarking on his studies at the University of Malta, he experienced what he refers to as a slight variation in direction. “I was more interested in art,” he maintains, explaining that he went on to practice art for a year, with his father’s blessing. “I was doing what was in fashion at the time – Jackson Pollock-style, bicycle rides over large canvases on the floor,” he jokes. The experience served him well, instilling a sense of freedom and fluidity that architectural work doesn’t necessarily allow

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


CC meet the artist

Santorini

Photos by Alan Carville

“I believe that the bridge between mind and paper is still best crossed by the hand. We have to ensure that the mouse doesn’t eat the pencil.”

Mythopoli OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

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Malta - Fantasy

Valletta Bastions

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“When you walk into the Pantheon in Rome, there is no way you’re not going to be moved. And that is when construction elevates itself into architecture, and elevates itself into art.” While computer technology is a wonderful tool, we have to be careful that it doesn’t take over. We live in a Photoshopped era in which non-reality has taken over from the real. Many projects look much better in presentation form than they do when they’re made, and it’s the renderings that sell. Certain projects should still be presented through free-hand sketches. I believe that the bridge between mind and paper is still best crossed by the hand. We have to ensure that the mouse doesn’t eat the pencil,” he maintains. Going on to refer to his time at the studio of Italian architect-designer Gio Ponti, whom he calls “one of the great masters of the mid-50s”, Prof. England maintains that this is where he learnt to ‘draw first and measure afterwards’. He refers to a statement by French composer Claude Debussy: ‘if you measure the height of the trees in a forest, does that reveal the secret of the forest?’ asserting that while architects tend to live by measurements, they are not the essentials. It is rather the essence of a place that is important. “What I’m interested in is the phenomenology of the building – what a building does to you,” he states, going on to refer to the original definition of architecture by Roman architect Vitruvius, which says that architecture is made up of commodity, firmness and delight. Commodity because architecture is a social art; firmness which involves how a building is put together; and delight, which refers to what a building does to you when you walk into it. “When you walk into the Pantheon in Rome, there is no way you’re not going to be moved. And

that is when construction elevates itself into architecture, and elevates itself into art. What I’m interested in, is how you can produce a building which moves the spirit,” he continues. Indeed, as Prof. England goes on to maintain, “the aim of the architect is to make the ordinary extraordinary. I’ve always

Photo by Alan Carville

for. “In architecture, you learn how to draw orthogonally – everything has to be vertical, straight and rigid – whilst if you’re drawing as an artist you have to be much freer.” Admitting that it can be difficult to uproot oneself from the many years of architectural discipline, Prof. England explains that there is a dichotomy when it comes to whether one is drawing as an architect or as an artist, yet also believes that “in the end, it’s all art.” Certainly, there is an art to architectural drawings too. Prof. England describes an architectural concept drawing as being like an acorn: “an acorn has the entire DNA of the tree inside of it, but it takes time to reach fruition. When you start sketching, the concept sketch resembles the acorn in the sense that all the elements of the finished product are already there, although it is still far away.” Tracing it back to the Ancients, Prof. England considers drawing to be an essential tool – one that he regrettably notes as lacking in today’s architects. “The problem today seems to be that many of the young architects I meet are incapable of drawing.

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Photo by Alan Carville

“I’ve always believed in a quote from Tennessee Williams in A Streetcar Named Desire: ‘I don’t want reality, I want magic’. And that’s what I seek in both the drawings and the architecture.”

Senglea

believed in a quote from Tennessee Williams in A Streetcar Named Desire: ‘I don’t want reality, I want magic’. And that’s what I seek in both the drawings and the architecture.” As an architect, sculptor, photographer, poet, artist and writer however, does he have a preferred medium? His answer is simple. “Art, and that covers the lot.” Prof. England explains that each discipline is different, yet admits to particularly enjoying drawing on the spot, especially during his travels. Having a distaste for the fleeting nature of photographs in today’s digital world, he says, “a photograph goes away, but a drawing remains with you. Before you draw a building for example, you need to assimilate it. You don’t draw the whole building, but the essence or the spirit of it.” As for his technique, he maintains that over the years, he has found the medium which suits him best. “I like to use felt pens, ink and oil pastels, which allow a certain amount of freedom. You can use a fat piece of chalk and allow your hand to roam freely. If you’re drawing on a large scale you can use your whole arm, while on a smaller scale you can use your wrist or even just your fingers. Each of these produces a product which is 56

conducive to the movement… I always think about the eye in the hand,” he says. Asked about his creative process, he believes that this also varies, depending on the situation. During his travels for example, it often happens that a particular building or ambience moves him to sit down and sketch it. “I would sit down and make an initial drawing, and then bring that home to work on it.” Inspiration meanwhile, is everywhere. Counting literature as a vast source of inspiration, like Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Ben Okri’s Astonishing the Gods, as well as the work of Borges and CS Lewis, Prof. England is also, somewhat unsurprisingly, inspired by architecture itself. In Malta, he mentions Gozo and its churches, and Valletta, which he refers to as “one of the greatest cities of the Mediterranean, if not of the world”, as well as the Neolithic temples, which he considers to be truly special. “I think it was Einstein that said that the ancients knew something that somehow we seem to have forgotten, and TS Eliot has this wonderful quote that says ‘where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?’ The ancients had a wisdom and an understanding – the land certainly had more meaning. We’ve lost that,” he laments.

Meanwhile, looking back on his artistic journey so far, Prof. England maintains that there are a few architectural projects that have stayed with him, mentioning the church in Manikata which is particularly close to his heart: “my father gave me the commission for it upon my return from my studies in Italy. Unfortunately he didn’t live to see the building completed.” Other noteworthy projects include the Parliament in 1976 with Dom Mintoff as his client, which he refers to as “a hazardous experience”, as well as St James Cavalier. As for his drawings, Prof. England considers them to be, in a way, more permanent than architecture, and is hard pressed to find a particular one that has left more of an impression. “Nobody has any qualms about adding, subtracting, destroying or changing architecture, but nobody would touch a painting or add a verse to a poem. A drawing, in itself, has a greater sense of permanence than what we consider to be far more permanent, which is architecture,” he says. As his current exhibition Ogygia, Isle of Calypso, is being held at art..e Gallery in Gozo until 6th November, Prof. England is now busy with a number of other projects, including a book of 200 poems on the mythological theme of Orpheus, another book featuring a collection of sacred spaces, as well as a few architectural projects. Lamenting the fact that life is so rich, and that there is just so much to do and experience within the time we have, Prof. England goes on to say that there still remains plenty that he’d like to do. And as he takes me through his many plans, his enduring excitement and enthusiasm is truly infectious. cc

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015 Florence


STYLE

Sophisticated autumn style

Many of this year’s autumn/ winter collections from worldrenowned designers pay homage to rich fabrics, luxurious textures and subtle colours. Martina Said delves into the top trends that this season has to offer. 01. Graphic Black and White

Unlike most fabrics which can be adapted to be worn in all seasons, velvet is one of those select few that can only be pulled off in winter. It is luxurious to the touch, and immensely rich in look and feel. Designer Emilio Pucci featured loose wide-legged trousers in velvet in his latest catwalk show, while Lanvin showed off wrap skirts and capes in smooth and soft velvet. If you’ll opt for one velvet item this season, make it a floor-length black dress or one cropped to the calf with a full skirt – you’ll be the belle of the ball. Stella M cCartney

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03. All that Grey The colour of choice in men’s trends this season is grey, which you might think is an obvious choice for autumn/winter collections. What’s thrown this colour into trend territory though is that it appeared

04. The Jersey Dress The jersey dress is a wardrobe staple that you’ll likely hang on to for more than one season – it’s flattering, feminine and pretty timeless too, and is possibly one of the most easily adaptable outfits to suit all occasions. Wear it to work with a chunky heel and short neck scarf, team it with cute ankle boots and coloured tights for post-work drinks or with an elegant stiletto heel and statement jewellery for a night on the town.

www.lyst.com

02. Velvet Luxury

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05. Beautiful Brocade Designers have taken brocade to another level this season and utilised the lush fabric for statement garments such as jackets, blazers and trouser suits. The look draws from the world of interiors and makes reference to fabrics and motifs typically found in an upscale and designer living room. The look is both classic and avant-garde – if you’ve bagged yourself a brocade jacket or coat, let it be the star of your outfit and team it with black trousers and a plain shirt, or whatever colours you deem matching, without taking attention off the coat.

www.moss.co.uk

The timeless black and white combo frequently makes an appearance on the runway, but this season, it’s taking a bolder step forward. The black and white stripe trend that took every high street shop by storm last year is now replaced by blackand-white-everything, including checks, stripes, diamonds, zebra print and quirky motifs. Some designers have pushed the envelope with two or more graphic prints in one garment, others opted for an optical illusion, but get ready to see this style reflected on the street in many ways.

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in a range of outfit choices and garments, from sleek suits to shoes and training gear, and in a vast array of shades too. If you’re one to break rules, mix and match your outfit with different shades of grey from head to toe, such as charcoal trousers, gun metal shoes and a light hued sweater.

06. Squares not Stripes We’ve seen everything from flowers and butterflies to stars and stripes splattered across men’s clothing in past seasons, but the more conservative fashion follower will be pleased to discover that squares are in vogue, and they’re way more subtle. Whether used in big, bold blocks of colour, as patchwork in jeans or as different gradients of the same colour in a coat, the look is sophisticated, smart and certainly masculine. cc

03. BCBG Max Azria

Valentino

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Finishing touches www.home-designing.com

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Looking to take your work space from drab to fab? Sarah Micallef brings you some great ways to do just that. 01. Stylish Laptop Stand Ergonomics dictates that your computer or laptop screen should always be at eye level, so as to avoid back or neck troubles. If you work on a laptop, chances are that’s it currently too low, but there’s an easy and stylish way to fix that. A specially designed laptop stand, like this Walnut Laptop Stand from Grovemade will ensure an equal mix of comfort, due to its angled platform, and style, thanks to its beautiful design, which features a precision-cut stainless steel stop lined with premium tanned leather.

02. Cork Globe Looking for a cool way to document your travels and the places you’ve been, but don’t have room to hang a world map on your wall? This quirky full-size globe, made entirely out of cork and mounted on a simple stainless steel base will allow you to do just that, with panache. It also comes with its own tacks for pinning the places you’ve been, and those that are next on your to-visit list.

02. www.suck.uk.com

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03. Repurposed Desk Repurposed furniture is a great way of making a statement in your home and office, and is really taking off as an interior design trend. Repurposed wood from old doors, palettes or even old furniture lends itself well here, and with a little ingenuity, can be transformed into a stunning talking point in your work space.

04. Mid-Century Modern The mid-century modern trend is going strong in the interior design world at the moment, and it works particularly well in the office. Always fancied the set of Mad Men? You need look no further for inspiration – couple classic mid-century furniture like the timeless Eames chair with modern accessories and bold colours to make the best of the mid-century modern look in your work space (just make sure you swap out the typewriter with a slightly more modern technology).

05. Colourful Office Seating Bright colours and jewel tones when it comes to your office seating can add an unexpected touch of flair to your work space. While we’re used to jazzing up our offices by adding colour to the walls and through other accessories and furnishings, office chairs generally tend to come in a variety of rather dull colours… but it doesn’t have to be that way, just looks at this lush green version!

06. Decorative Mirror Having a mirror in your office could be really useful – whether it’s for checking everything is in place before dashing off to a meeting or for psyching yourself up ahead of a big presentation. Still, it need not be purely utilitarian… a decorative mirror can play off the style of your work space, and serve as an interesting feature on your wall. cc

www.designsponge.com

www.grovemade.com

06. www.anthropologie.com

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NEWS Events & Initiatives

01. Lufthansa Technik on board Skills Gap project President Anton Borg, Kevin J. Borg and Andre Fenech met with Lufthansa Technik Malta CEO Stephan Drewes, to discuss possibilities of collaboration on a Skills Gap Analysis project in the Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Operations sector in Malta. The Malta Chamber is leading this pilot project, with a view to be extended to more sectors in Malta in the future. Mr Borg explained how the Malta Chamber felt the need to address the skills gaps that existed in Malta’s economy, especially in relatively new sectors such as the aviation maintenance industry. This study would allow the Malta Chamber to recommend actions to Government on how to address these gaps. Such a study will provide the necessary data to address areas where sectors experience limitations due to a lack of qualified people, incentivising certain career choices. Mr Drewes congratulated the Malta Chamber on this initiative and expressed his willingness to participate in this exercise that is expected to analyse the aircraft maintenance industry closely. A focus group piloted by the Malta Chamber and with the participation of all major players of the industry is expected to be set up shortly.

02. Chamber given preview of Residence and Visa programme The President of the Malta Chamber and the Chairman of Trade Malta, met Parliamentary Secretary Jose Herrera on 28th August, for the purpose of providing an update on the Malta Residence and Visa programme, which was launched to the media on the same day at the Exchange Buildings. Dr Herrera explained the value of the new programme, which was expected to attract interest by third country nationals, and generate investment in Malta. He said that interested parties would need to invest €320,000 in Malta to qualify for the programme, funds that would generally be invested in property and other commercial investments.

03. Real recommendations needed for a very real problem In a Press Release issued on 1st September the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry said it is unacceptable that such OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

a serious and increasingly acute problem that is traffic congestion is being met with a string of knee-jerk recommendations in the hope that these turn out to be effective. In the 14-page White Paper titled ‘School Opening Hours and Traffic Congestion’ only one sentence makes reference to delivery vans and vaguely suggests that “services delivered by heavy vehicles should not coincide with the heavy morning traffic time.” (Recommendation 16). The Malta Chamber feels that the lifeline of Malta’s business community deserves more than one line in a 14-page document.

04. Appreciation – Albert Mizzi The President and Council of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry extend their deepest condolences to the family of Albert Mizzi who passed away on 10th September, aged 87. Mr Mizzi was a stalwart of the Maltese business community. His contribution to Malta’s economic development since the 60s was most instrumental to the country’s development. He will be remembered as one of Malta’s foremost entrepreneurs and a gentleman. As a member of the Malta Chamber, Mr Mizzi was most active, occupying numerous prestigious roles namely Council Member, Chairman of the Importers Trade Section, Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer.

05. Malta Chamber Press Release quoted In its leading article on 10th September, titled ‘Delivering the wrong message’, The Business Observer agreed with the Malta Chamber’s position on the White Paper published by Government recently on the reform of school transport and the situation of traffic congestion. The editorial quoted the Malta Chamber’s Press Release issued on 1st September, as it agreed that “the problem of traffic congestion will not be solved by passing the parcel from one sector to the other.” In addition, the editorial asked “what would the impact be on productivity – and competitiveness – if deliveries were banned for a few hours each day?” Finally the Malta Chamber’s press release is quoted again. “The business community deserves more than one line in a 14-page document. Malta deserves a holistic plan for transportation which includes an efficient public transport system, a European level

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Photo by The Malta Independent

road network and better observance of traffic laws by all involved, in order for traffic to flow more smoothly,” the editorial concludes.

06. Malta Chamber participates in CORE The Malta Chamber participated in the launch of CORE a new entity established under the esteemed auspices of H.E. the President of Malta with the aim to promote the values of Corporate Social Responsibility, on 10th September. President Anton Borg said that “the Malta Chamber considers CSR as a valuable tool that can be used by both large and smaller enterprises in order to build a social purpose into their operations that is as important as their economic purpose. In business, earning respect is sometimes more difficult than earning money.” “For this purpose, the Malta Chamber is proud to form part of CORE and to propose Helga Ellul as the first chairperson of the new organisation,” he asserted.

07. The Malta Chamber President addresses the QALEN Symposium – Malta 2015 The President of the Malta Chamber Anton Borg addressed the QALEN Symposium – Malta 2015 which was organised at the Exchange Buildings on 10th September. QALEN (Quality Assurance in Language Education Network) was formed as a result of meetings and consultations held between Quality Assurance and Accreditation agencies of the English and Other Languages Teaching Sector, formally in London in 2011 and Sydney in 2014. The QALEN Symposium provides an opportunity for professionals in the Language Teaching business to come together, and professionally develop and discuss innovation and best practice. 65


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08. Summer drinks This year’s summer drinks were held on 10th September in the private gardens of San Anton Palace. This very special venue was made available to the Chamber by H.E. the President of Malta. The President and Karen Borg welcomed members and guests to the event. These included the Prime Minister, a number of Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, the Leader of the Opposition and members of the Shadow Cabinet.

09. Further reductions in energy prices and no surprises As part of the consultation process relating to the upcoming Budget 2016, the Malta Chamber called on Government to reduce energy tariffs for all businesses in view of changing circumstances. Energy has taken first priority in the pre-budget proposals compiled by the Malta Chamber given the significance of energy in total operating costs and its role in the country’s competitiveness. Such further reductions would serve to neutralise the limited cost advantages of operating in Malta. The proposed reductions are deemed necessary also in the face of declining wholesale electricity prices in the rest of the European Union. The Malta Chamber also called on Government to refrain from surprising businesses this time round with shockmeasures announced in the Budget speech, as was the case last year with

08. the introduction of excise duties on wine and pneumatic tyres. Measures which are introduced haphazardly and without any prior consultation clearly disrupt business activity and bring momentum to a halt in the respective sectors. The Malta Chamber also gave priority to RTDI which is seen as one of the foremost pillars upon which any country’s

lasting economic growth rests. The Pre-Budget 2016 proposals document of the Malta Chamber was presented to the Ministry for Finance and the MCESD on 16th September. The Malta Chamber continued its active participation in the consultation process in preparation for the upcoming Budget 2016.

10. Inroads made between Environmental and Business Development lobbies

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The Malta Chamber and Din L-Art Helwa in collaboration with The Times of Malta organised a round table discussion on whether Business Development and Environmental Protection are compatible. The event was held on 16th September at the Exchange Buildings. During the discussion some interesting inroads between the two camps were made. Both sides discussed with interest developments in environmental legislation and agreed to collaborate in the near future to possibly agree on a common front to present to Government. The Malta Chamber offered to play a moderator role in this process in order to facilitate the discussion. Taking part in this debate was international OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


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amongst them the need for reduced energy tariffs. This could be achieved via amendments to the night tariff regulation parameters; direct bulk purchases of energy by companies via the interconnector and privately managed energy distribution systems and reward systems for energy efficient companies.

13. Malta Chamber members provided with details on ETC schemes

10. guest speaker Prof. Simon Molesworth, Executive and Founder President of the International National Trusts Organisation. The panel consisted of Tony Zahra, President of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and Chairman of the Malta Industrial Parks Ltd, Sandro Chetcuti, President, Malta Developers Association and Perit Ivan Cachia who spoke for business development, while environmentalists Prof. Simon Molesworth, Dr Petra Caruana Dingli and Prof. Alan Deidun spoke for environment and heritage, and the importance of their protection for future sustainability. The moderator was Dr John Vassallo, board member Malta Business Bureau, former Microsoft VicePresident for EU Affairs and former Ambassador of Malta to the EU.

12. Budget 2016 – Chamber’s final effort The Deputy President, Director General and Head of Policy participated in the meeting of the MCESD on 23rd September 2015. This was the last meeting before the presentation of the Government Budget for 2016 on 12th October. In its representations to the media, during and after the meeting, the Director General said that the Malta Chamber had made 53 concrete recommendations in its pre-budget proposals. These could be grouped under two overarching objectives: continued fiscal consolidation and enhanced growth through competitiveness. Mr Borg highlighted the Chamber’s principal recommendations, foremost

During an information session organised by the Malta Chamber, Clyde Caruana, Chairman of the Employment and Training Corporation explained how a number of funds and schemes relating to the Corporation would affect employers. The event was held in the run up to the Budget 2016 announcement. Mr Caruana explained that the Youth Guarantee scheme will be continued and will be targeting youths (16-25) referred to as NEETs (Not in education, employment or training). The ETC would also be providing shortterm training aimed at job seekers. The ETC short courses/training will be once again financed through national rather than EU funds. The courses will be aligned to labour market demands and will mainly aim towards upskilling candidates. Mr Caruana continued that the ETC shall also be providing incentives to promote continuous training amongst employees. There will be a financial benefit for employees equivalent to the minimum pay rate per hour after tax.

11. Erasmus students addressed at Chamber A delegation of 28 participants coming from 13 different countries across Europe visited the Malta Chamber premises on Tuesday 22nd September as part of a training course organised by PRISMS under the Erasmus+ Project. The training, which tackled NGOs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was organised with the aim to help NGOs understand the private sector and translate their CSR project ideas to companies in a more effective manner. The delegation was addressed by Malta Chamber Sectors’ Executives Rachel Bartolo and Nigel Mifsud, who delivered a presentation on the Malta Chamber’s role in representing its members and promoting responsible entrepreneurship. OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

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14. 14. Concerted effort in RTDI needed Addressing the annual National Conference marking the launch of the EY: ‘Malta Attractiveness Survey’ on 7th October, the President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, Anton Borg said that while cost factors are important components of competitiveness, it is far wiser to raise the bar and increase value added from one’s resources. This can be done on a national scale by means of investing public funds in specific areas that are conducive to increasing value added and the attraction of new private investment, the Malta Chamber President remarked. “Here I refer specifically to a concerted effort in the area of Research, Technology Development and Innovation (RTDI), which we believe will complement past efforts made by successive administrations in the area of training and education of our human resources. Indeed, as a result of these past efforts, our human resources are well placed to contribute towards raising the bar in terms of our country’s competitiveness if Maltese workers are given the right opportunities in terms of the active adoption of RTDI,” Mr Borg said. During his address former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Prof. Jan Peter Balkenende expressed his full agreement with the arguments in Mr Borg’s Talking Point that appeared in that day’s Times of Malta on the same subject titled ‘RTDI key to economic growth’. 70

The event, launching the Malta Attractiveness Survey organised by EY was also addressed by Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat, the Leader of the Opposition Dr Simon Busuttil, Former EU Commissioner and Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Lord Peter Mandelson, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Prof. Jan Peter Balkenende, and EY Americas Strategy Leader Paul Brody, among others.

15. CHOGM Business Breakfast at the Malta Chamber In preparation for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November and the relevant Business Forum, a business breakfast organised by the Malta Business Weekly at the Malta Chamber of Commerce, discussed business prospects in the Commonwealth and beyond. Addressing the Business Breakfast, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Lord Jonathan Marland, said that the Council will be standing shoulder to shoulder with Malta’s politicians to enable change within the Commonwealth, as Britain will be supporting Malta’s initiative to bring about this change. He also said that tourism is important to Malta as it is for all Commonwealth countries. The Breakfast titled ‘Doing Business in the Commonwealth and Beyond’ was also addressed by Minister for the Economy Dr Chris Cardona, who said that

the Commonwealth meeting is a great networking event which will widen Malta’s connections. “It should be very easy for us to hold out the hand of friendship to our Commonwealth cousins next month, and I can’t wait to see them all here, finding out more about Malta and seeing the potential of these islands,” he said.

16. Chamber participates in Budget debate with Opposition During a meeting called by the Opposition with members of the MCESD at Parliament on 2nd October, Malta Chamber Director General Kevin J. Borg said that the Opposition’s initiative to compile a pre-budget document with proposals was a most welcome innovation in the country’s political scenario. Members of the MCESD were given a presentation of the recommendations contained within the pre-budget document titled ‘Sustainable Growth and Dignity for All’, by the Leader of the Opposition, who outlined the core areas of the document. Mr Borg said that several of the points raised by the Opposition in the document overlapped with areas of concern outlined in the Malta Chamber’s pre-budget document. These include sensitive sectors that require very specific attention, such as manufacturing, tourism, services and retail. These sectors, with a special emphasis on manufacturing and retail, are facing real challenges and need to be stimulated to remain competitive. OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


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17. Introducing Enterprise Europe Network: Organising an ICT Brokerage Event The Malta Chamber in collaboration with Malta Enterprise, as part of the local Enterprise Europe Network Consortium, organised a seminar to promote the Enterprise Europe Network specifically among ICT companies. The event entitled ‘Introducing Enterprise Europe Network: Organising an ICT Brokerage Event’ which was held on Thursday 1st October 2015 at the Xara Lodge, was attended by members and potential clients of the network interested to learn more about the services being offered including the organisation of a company mission for local ICT companies. Brigitte Tanti, Project Coordinator, Malta Enterprise, presented a general overview of the network and its role in the European Commission’s ambitious focus on the improvement and growth of SMEs. Ms Tanti explained EEN’s role of providing advisory support and the required assistance and contacts to internationalise their business operations, be it with a product, service, process or idea. Lino Mintoff, Head – Sectors, Malta Chamber, delivered a presentation on one of the main pillars of EEN’s services relating to innovation management. Members present were informed of a consultancy service being offered to local SMEs. SMEs now have the opportunity to benchmark their operations against local and foreign competition as well as particular industry leaders. The assessment aims to facilitate the senior management within SMEs throughout a process aimed at improving their products, services and systems.

18. Reaction to 2016 Budget Speech In its preliminary reaction to the Budget for 2016, the Malta Chamber noted the underlying priorities of the 2016 Budget speech, namely, fiscal consolidation, strong economic growth and better living standards for all. The priorities were seen to be similar to the objectives the Chamber itself proposed during its active participation in this year’s Budget consultation process. It was noted that the Budget continued to build on the previous year’s efforts in a number of areas including income support for low and middle-income earners and pensioners, further investment in human resources, environmental OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

initiatives and the real estate sector. In conclusion, the Chamber welcomed the announced measures in support of business and better regulation. At the same time, the Chamber noted with regret that specific measures it proposed such as those for energy tariff reduction were not taken up to the detriment of Malta’s general competitiveness position. All in all, however, this Budget continued to acknowledge the private sector’s important role in the economy.

19. Malta Chamber Council meets Minister Konrad Mizzi The Council of the Malta Chamber held a meeting with Minister for Energy and Health Dr Konrad Mizzi, on 9th October to discuss issues related to energy and fuel. The Minister informed Council that Government was committed to engaging with the social partners in the light of all aspects of competitiveness. He said that in the last two years significant milestones had been reached in the energy sector. The Minister then delivered a detailed presentation on the energy sector. Minister Mizzi confirmed that his Ministry would do its best to implement as many of the proposals made by the Chamber whenever these were feasible in terms of tariff stability/reductions and energy efficient measures.

20. Excellent turnout for seminar on Trade Finance instruments Bank of Valletta in collaboration with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry hosted an afternoon conference at BOV Centre in Santa Venera where the macro environment of trade finance was discussed. An overwhelming response was registered, with more than 90 business representatives attending the conference which is the fruit of the collaboration agreement between Bank of Valletta and the Malta Chamber. In his opening address, Anton Borg said “the Malta Chamber endeavours to promote competitiveness and a healthy environment conducive to investment. Events like this seminar serve to provide entrepreneurs and operators in this field with the latest developments in trade finance.” Speaking about the long-standing collaboration between Bank of Valletta and the Chamber, Mr

Borg explained that, “Bank of Valletta has been collaborating with the Malta Chamber for over a decade. The two entities pool resources to assist SMEs to grow their business, as on this occasion.” The presentations were entrusted to senior officers at BOV’s Trade Finance Centre, Carmel Borg and Mario Darmanin. With 50 years’ experience in the trade finance sector, the speakers outlined the variables impinging upon the market, emphasising the importance of knowing the risks and taking the necessary measures to mitigate them. Alfred Attard, Chief Officer SME Financing, expressed his satisfaction at the turnout. The seminar was accredited with three hours of structured CPE qualifying under the Core/Professional Development Board Accreditation rules.

21. Malta Chamber holds meeting with Ministry on surprise Eco Contribution measure The Malta Chamber expressed its disappointment with officials from the Ministry for Finance, at the manner in which the Eco Contribution system was changed to an Excise Tax system on a number of products. The measure was announced in the 2016 Budget speech. In spite of the Chamber’s repeated calls during the pre-budget consultation process for Government to avoid any surprises in the Budget speech that could bring business to a standstill, the Government forged ahead in announcing this measure without any consultation on this matter. Kevin J. Borg, Malta Chamber DG told the Ministry officials that the Chamber supported the principle of transforming the Eco Contribution regime into a more efficient and enforceable form of taxation but besides being easier to enforce, one cannot classify this Budget measure as efficient. “This is because responsible operators that self-complied or subscribed to a private waste management scheme to recover and recycle their packaging waste were exempt from Eco Contribution. Unless the same exemption will also apply on Excise Tax, the measure will impose an additional tax burden on law-abiding operators,” said Mr Borg. “The Chamber remains available for further discussion with the authorities in order to better mitigate the effects of this measure on businesses,” concluded Mr Borg. 73


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NEWS Internationalisation

01. Meeting with High Commissioner of Ghana in Malta, Kenneth E.K. Tachie On 3rd September, Chamber President Anton Borg and Vice-President Tonio Casapinta met with High Commissioner of Ghana in Malta, Kenneth E.K. Tachie. They were accompanied by Internationalisation Executive Lina El-Nahhal. Mr Tachie mentioned that the Ghana High Commission in Malta has been relocated to its new offices in Sliema, adding that it would like to make its stay in Malta of future benefit to both countries. He noted that there is a lot of scope for business in Ghana, mainly in the sectors of gold and diamonds, cocoa, and agriculture. It was agreed by both parties that there is a need to create awareness of the Ghanaian market in Malta. Mr Borg suggested organising a Doing Business with Ghana event at the Chamber focusing on trade as well as investment.

02. Meeting with Ambassador of Morocco in Rome and Head of Malta Desk at the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Chamber Vice-President Tonio Casapinta welcomed H.E. Hassan Abouyoub, Ambassador of Morocco in Rome and Souad Zanati, Head of France, Italy and Malta Desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco to the Malta Chamber.

02. The meeting was also attended by H.E. Tarcisio Zammit, Malta’s Ambassador to Morocco, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade Malta and Malta Enterprise. Mr Abouyoub and Ms Zanati were in Malta on a fact finding mission with various Ministries. They proposed to set up a Joint Committee between both countries to discuss related matters. It was agreed that the Malta Chamber, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade Malta and Malta Enterprise will liaise together and draft an action plan.

03. Meeting with Minister Counsellor of Canada in Italy, Jan Scazighino On 14th September 2015, Chamber Vice-President Tonio Casapinta together with Internationalisation Executive Lina El-Nahhal met with Minister Counsellor (Commercial & Economic) of Canada in Italy, Jan Scazighino. Mr Casapinta welcomed Mr Scazighino to the Malta Chamber and gave him a brief introduction about the Chamber and its structure. He also spoke about

the work of the Internationalisation Desk and the various business councils. Mr Scazighino mentioned that the High Commission is based in Rome but also represents Malta, Albania and Croatia. He said that that not a lot of people know about Malta and its potential, adding that there needs to be more awareness and promotion of the Maltese market. Malta can serve as a stable base and gateway to North Africa.

04. Meeting with Eric De Haan, candidate for Honorary Consul in Flevoland, Netherlands On 16th September 2015, Internationalisation Executive Lina ElNahhal met Eric De Haan, candidate for Honorary Consul in Flevoland, Netherlands. Mrs El-Nahhal welcomed Mr De Haan to the Malta Chamber. In turn, Mr De Haan expressed his commitment to promote Malta in the Netherlands by making Dutch entrepreneurs aware of Malta’s possibilities including being a gateway to North Africa and low tax rates, among others. He added that there is great potential for business between Malta and the Netherlands. Among the potential sectors, Mr De Haan mentioned aviation, yachting and ICT.

05. Meeting with Junior Chamber International (JCI) Germany

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Tonio Casapinta, Vice-President and Johanna Calleja, Manager – Statutory Affairs and Administration met with Torben Schanz, incoming President of JCI in Esslingen, Germany and Martin Buttner. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the organisation of the President’s annual delegation which in 2016 would be held in Malta. The annual delegation’s journey was to be linked to the development of digitalisation and its effects on the value added chain. It was agreed that the delegation would visit the Malta Chamber and that it would be briefed about investment opportunities, employment opportunities and the business environment. OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


CC news

29th September to 2nd October 2015. “Malta’s strong geographical location as a gateway to Africa can complement Turkey’s strategic position as both countries can build on each other’s assets, to facilitate trade and business opportunities in new markets,” he explained. The trade delegation was co-organised by Trade Malta and the Maltese Turkish Business Council within the Malta Chamber. The Malta Chamber was represented by President Anton Borg and VicePresident Tonio Casapinta, the Chairman of the Maltese Turkish Business Council (MTBC), Dr Mark Bencini and a number of Committee members. Malta Enterprise, FinanceMalta and Transport Malta also joined the delegation.

08. German Ambassador visits Chamber

07. 06. ‘Doing Business’ series launched Trade Malta and the Malta Chamber launched the first ‘Doing Business’ event intended to bring interested parties together in preparation for an upcoming trade mission, in this case to Turkey. The event took place on 18th September at the Exchange Buildings in Valletta. Welcoming the present stakeholders at the well-attended event, Malta Chamber Deputy President Frank V. Farrugia said that potential for business between Malta and Turkey was extensive. He asserted that “Turkey’s geographical location puts it in a very strong position, outperforming the OECD average in the past five years.” Trade Malta Chairman David G. Curmi noted that Trade Malta’s aim was to facilitate the internationalisation of Maltese businesses, focusing on new and emerging markets such as the East, sub-Saharan Africa and South America. The upcoming trade mission was one such effort in this direction, he said. Concluding the event, Minister for Energy and Health, Konrad Mizzi praised the efforts of the Malta Chamber and Trade Malta, and said that this was an excellent example of how Government and the private sector could collaborate through a public private partnership for a common goal. Halit Akgun, Second Secretary Chargé d’Affaires, also delivered a key-note presentation about business opportunities in Turkey. OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

07. Malta Chamber participates in Trade Malta business delegation to Istanbul with support of Maltese Turkish Business Council “Business relations between Malta and Turkey have historically been excellent and it is Trade Malta’s aim to build on these solid foundations in order to seek new markets and enter new business relationships that would benefit both sides,” said Anton Borg, President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, following a trade delegation to Istanbul, Turkey, that took place from

Malta Chamber President Anton Borg, and Vice-President Tonio Casapinta welcomed German Ambassador to Malta H.E. Gudrun Maria Sraga to the Exchange Buildings on 14th October for a courtesy visit. The meeting underlined the excellent business relations between Malta and Germany, based on long years of mutual collaboration. Matters relating to RTDI and how German companies can collaborate with Maltese companies in this specific field of interest and activities relating to Eco Tourism between the German and Maltese markets were discussed. The meeting also discussed the role and scope of the German Maltese Business Council and ideas on how this could be strengthened were exchanged. cc

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CC DIGITAL MEDIA

Introducing Malta’s first full-blown weddings portal There’s something about weddings, and the love stories tied to them, that captivates the romantic in all of us. From the proposal to the planning stage, right up until the big day arrives, there’s so much to plan and do, and while there are many resources out there to provide inspiration and advice, few can compare to the recently-launched, exciting new platform that is the first of its kind on the Maltese islands: OurWedding.com.mt.

Always up-to-date, easy to use and chock full of locally relevant ideas, inspiration and suppliers, OurWedding.com.mt is a high-end lifestyle-oriented portal featuring fresh content, including a plethora of information to make the journey to a couple’s big day effortless and fun. It also offers relationship advice, travel tips and home décor ideas that couples will find useful whatever the stage of their relationship. Backed by a great team of editors, journalists and bloggers on behalf of Content House Group – the publishing company behind many of Malta’s top magazines including The Commercial

Courier – OurWedding serves as an essential tool for couples, covering an extensive range of sectors from wedding planning to venues, catering to flowers, bridal wear to fashion, bridal cars, photographers, make-up artists and musicians, jewellery to invitations, honeymoon and travelling, a home and design section, as well as the facility to create one’s own wedding website. “What we set out to achieve with this portal is an active one-stop-shop for couples who are planning their big day, as well as for anyone who loves or is interested in weddings, home interiors and travelling. Every day, you’ll find a mix of fresh local stories and news, plus interesting international happenings and trends within the world of weddings,” says co-editor Sarah Micallef. Apart from this, very much like a wedding itself, OurWedding is also quite the visual treat. In fact, the portal’s design is something that co-editor Martina Said believes really sets it apart. “Aside from the interactive content and engaging stories, I believe OurWedding is special because of its sophisticated, elegant design and accessible interface,” she says. An extensive wedding directory covering all major wedding and home sectors including bridal wear and jewellery, cars, catering, florists, invitations and souvenirs, and home furnishings also forms an integral part of the portal, as well as a Real Weddings section, which provides insight into real couples’ weddings, featuring photos and interviews from actual weddings in Malta. Certainly, as OurWedding’s online sales manager Petra Urso concludes, “our job is to understand what the market wants to tap into, so as to highlight their products and services to brides and grooms across Malta. We’ve created something new, and OurWedding. com.mt really does differ from the many wedding portals that are currently available.” cc Ourwedding.com.mt is a project owned and managed by Content House Group. For advertising and editorial enquiries contact Content House Group on T: 2132 0713 or E: info@contenthouse.com.mt.

The OurWedding.com.mt team OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

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CC make the headlines

HSBC helps industry navigate next steps in transport and logistics In 2004, only 11 export corridors of magnitude greater than $75 billion existed in the world. By 2013, the number of such substantial trade corridors increased to 22, intensifying trade routes – intraEU and North America – but also along new routes. The swelling of numbers is due to the rise of China in global trade, according to a recent report published by HSBC. Malta is perched on one of the largest of the four trade corridors between China and the European Union valued at $300 billion. The country can benefit greatly by streamlining its warehousing capabilities which, in turn, could become the backbone of growth in the fast rising sector of transport and logistics. Experts from the sector exchanged ideas on the way forward for the sector during a

HSBC Commercial Banking has been fuelling the debate around the important sector of transport and logistics and supporting the TransLog events

breakout session ‘Logistics: The next step’ during the recent EY’s Malta attractiveness survey conference. This breakout session was supported by HSBC Bank Malta plc which has been promoting the potential growth of the transport and logistics sector. Michel Cordina, Head of HSBC Malta Commercial Banking, said: “in 2014, HSBC Commercial Banking became the main supporter of the inaugural TransLog Awards, Malta’s first-ever transport and logistics awards, and continues to support the associated TransLog forums. In June 2015,

HSBC Commercial Banking launched a new €75 million Malta Trade for Growth (MTFG) Fund to help Maltese companies take their business across the globe. The new MTFG Fund followed the success of the first €50 million trade fund launched in December 2013.” Also speaking from HSBC at the EY conference was senior HSBC Trade Economist Douglas Lippoldt who shared with the audience the changing pivots of global trade flows and their connection with macroeconomics and structural issues. cc

and practical service pillars which altogether encompass a 360-degree service offering. Through integrated logistics solutions and innovative outsourcing concepts we relieve our customers of peripheral tasks and enable them to concentrate on their core business. The customer benefit – cost savings and improved quality – is always in the foreground of our company’s ethos. We therefore continuously monitor and optimise procedures and processes, and thus permanently improve the efficiency of our services. Express Logigroup cooperates throughout Europe with highly efficient and privately

operated companies that like us, act independently of large corporations and are flexible and much more customer centric. Service-oriented company philosophies and highly efficient procedures place the customer at the centre of our attention. In addition to our regular part and full loads services, Express Logigroup offers courier, trade fair logistics, professional packing, home to home removal services and professional logistical consultancy service. cc

Express Logigroup’s International Freight Service Within today’s booming marketplace, companies must be adaptable and specialised. As a logistics company based in Malta, we at Express Logigroup use innovative strategies to achieve specific goals and this is why we are unrivalled and unparalleled in our international services. Each of our services is designed independently, fine-tuned to perfection and presented to the customer to meet individual demands, guaranteeing efficiency and strengthening our legacy among customers and companies alike. Even our very name, Express Logigroup, was developed through a dynamic process. Express Logigroup offers custom-made solutions even to the most remote locations and our coordinated methods ensure that your logistical needs are met professionally. We have dedicated our time and listened to our customers’ needs to create innovative 80

For more information visit www.expresslogigroup.com OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


CC make the headlines

Insignia Cards Ltd – New lifestyles, new financial freedoms There is a great sense of satisfaction in being able to relax and enjoy time either by yourself or with your family and friends. Living life on your terms is a principle that Insignia Cards uses to make sure the benefits and services provided through its payment products are unique. Insignia Cards Ltd is an established Malteseregistered financial institution that provides card products and services as part of its Lifestyle Management services with which clients enjoy the personalised service and financial freedom that most banks cannot provide. The three main cards that are increasingly gaining a strong foothold amongst local clients are the Insignia Visa Card, the Insignia Platinum Card and the Insignia Platinum Business Card. One of the main strengths that is guiding

Insignia Cards Ltd’s business proposition and brand promise is its commitment to a high level service, saving people time and money in doing the shopping on behalf of their customers. Not only will Insignia save you time, it will make sure you get the best deal. “Over these past years, we have been noting how the service level from a number of payment brands has been dropping. This is where Insignia Cards Ltd stepped in to meet the expectations of increasingly sophisticated clients who want flexible payment solutions that fall in line with their way of living. This is where we come in. Our

passion is based on a philosophy where we make the client feel trusted and catered to,” explains Rafael Carrascosa, Managing Director of Insignia Group of Companies. “As an established Maltese-registered financial institution that provides card products and lifestyle services to clients in Malta and other European countries, Insignia Cards Ltd’s long-term strategy is a simple one – providing global premium lifestyle and payment products with operational support from Malta,” adds Mr Carrascosa. cc www.insignia.com.mt

St Paul’s Catacombs receive EU funds Located at the heart of the town of Rabat, the St Paul’s Catacombs offer a unique insight into the large cemetery that was located here between the Punic and late Roman periods. This site, comprising 24 late Roman catacombs and tens of earlier tombs dating to between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD has recently been the beneficiary of the Archaeological Heritage Conservation Project, which was part financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund. This included a long list of studies, most important among which were extensive archaeological excavations. These made it possible to understand the full story of the site, the earliest use of which started in the Phoenician period, and to gain more knowledge on the burial practices and the people buried here. The project also made it possible to recover precious artefacts like jewellery and a set

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

of dice that, together with the bones, help us to understand the life and death of our ancestors. All these can be seen at the new state-ofthe-art visitor centre through an innovative interpretation method and through newly conserved catacombs, most of which are open to the public for the very first time. cc

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CC in figures

The Budget 2016… IN Figures

€1.2 Billion

€275

€1.3

revenue being generated by Government from income tax

revenue expected to be generated from licences, other taxes and fines

on the expenditure side the highest single item in the list is related to the Government expenditure on social security benefits

€785 million

total revenue generated by Government from social security contributions

million

€340 million

Billion

€491 million

expenditure on education is also remarkably high as Government is budgeting to spend almost €500 million on this sector

other revenue generated by Government from non-tax activities

€730 million

revenue generated from VAT, which is the third highest source of revenue for Government

€600

€481.4 million

Government is budgeting to spend €481.4 million on health next year. It’s a high figure but it’s still onethird of what Government will be spending on social security benefits!

million

€285

the last resort for any Government is to borrow money to close the gap between revenue and expenditure. Government is anticipating that it will have to borrow €600 million in 2016

million

€200 million

revenue expected to be generated from customs and excise duties

the overall gap between Government revenue (which is expected to reach €3.6 billion) and total expenditure, which will hit €3.8 billion next year Source: Malta International Airport

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

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CC interview

Photos by Matthew Mirabelli

“I leave Malta with a sense of optimism about the direction of the economy” Following a four-year tenure as CEO and Director of HSBC Malta, the time has come for Mark Watkinson to move on to pastures new. Ahead of taking up the post of CEO of HSBC Bermuda this November, he speaks to Sarah Micallef about the ups and downs of his time on the island, as well as what lies ahead for him, the bank and the local economy.

D

espite a 30-year relationship with HSBC Group which has seen him work in a host of different countries including the US, Canada and the Philippines, Malta still provided a few firsts for departing HSBC CEO Mark Watkinson. Among them was his first experience as CEO of a public company. Comprising 10,000 Maltese shareholders, HSBC Malta proved unique in this aspect, of which Mr Watkinson says, “I’ve really enjoyed the process of engagement with shareholders, as well as the governing structure around boards and non-executive directors.” As for his experience of working in Malta as a whole, Mr Watkinson maintains that one of his key takeaways is the access and collaboration he found within the financial OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

services sector. “The financial services sector is one of the principal sectors in which both political parties support initiatives, and it shows,” he explains. “There’s good commitment and good access to the highest levels of Government and regulators, so I take that away as being a very positive experience.” As for his experience of the island on a personal level, Mr Watkinson sums it up succinctly: “who wouldn’t love Malta?” Referring to its rich history and cultural heritage, he maintains that both he and his wife have loved their time here, so much so, that they already have plans to return. “My wife has almost become Maltese – she’s been doing her Masters at the University of Malta, so even though we’re leaving, she’ll be coming back to complete her MA.”

“What is probably the most active part of the economy is the higher-end, more expensive properties, but I’m not seeing a bubble. I think that the mass property market has remained quite steady and affordable.”

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CC interview That’s not to say, however, that his time at HSBC Malta hasn’t been without its challenges, particularly due to the delicate timing, during which banks needed to make necessary changes in the wake of the economic crisis. “It has been a very tough time due to a combination of tough economic conditions. We have had wave upon wave of regulations come in. Europe has seen extremely low rates of growth which has been challenging, and the current interest rate environment makes running a bank difficult,” he maintains. Having said that, Mr Watkinson feels that locally, the collaboration and interaction he has seen between the regulators – the Central Bank and the Malta Financial Services Authority – and the Malta Bankers’ Association has been a very positive step. “We have a process in place of quarterly meetings, and in this time of extreme change, having these parties meet so regularly has been excellent,” he says. He goes on to compliment the Malta Chamber

for its efforts, referring to it as a “supportive, friendly voice, and also a voice of reason”, adding, “it is very important to business that we have a business community that is supportive of the various aspects of the economy.” Looking back on his time in Malta, Mr Watkinson counts steering the bank through the European Central Bank comprehensive assessment last year among his biggest achievements throughout his tenure. Referring to it as a big achievement for the bank and something he is very proud of, he pays tribute to the team involved, highlighting the considerable work that went into it over a six to nine month period. “HSBC came out very well, with strong indications around capital and liquidity, and the feedback was very complimentary,” he affirms. Mr Watkinson also concedes to having spent a substantial amount of time working towards getting the business community to realise Malta’s competitive advantages in relation to the areas of tourism and

“Malta is a very small but open economy, and if it leverages that openness and willingness to work hard, it will do extremely well. I leave Malta with a sense of optimism about the direction of the economy.”

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trade and logistics. “Malta has an incredible infrastructure, it just needs to move forward to the next stage. I’ve been working hard and lobbying to get people to understand the importance of trade to Malta,” he says. HSBC Malta launched two Trade for Growth funds aimed at promoting the international aspirations of Maltese business during Mr Watkinson’s tenure – the first spanning €50 million, and the second extending to €75 million. The CEO affirms that these were met with positive reactions: “the first fund was utilised within less than a year, and the second fund, which we launched recently, has had extremely strong pick-up as well.” Moving on to the bank’s CSR investments, Mr Watkinson points to Malta-wide environmental and educational campaign Catch the Drop as a project he is particularly proud of. “We put over half a million US dollars into the water programme from HSBC Group, and over a three-year period, it will have touched almost every child in Malta.” Asked to comment about speculation that HSBC will be selling the bank in Malta in the medium to long term, Mr Watkinson asserts that HSBC remains very committed to Malta. “We continue to invest significantly, and we’ve put a huge amount of money into our branch renovations and ATM networks. We’ve also continued to put significant investment

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


CC interview

in financial crime risk, because I think that’s not only important for our organisation, but extremely important for Malta as a jurisdiction.” Speaking of the Maltese scenario, I draw the HSBC CEO’s attention to the fact that Malta appears to have escaped the brunt of the economic crisis, with the economy growing at a higher rate than that of other countries within the euro area. He agrees, asserting that there is no doubt that Malta is “a stand-out performer” as far as the economy is concerned. “We’re seeing good investments starting in infrastructure and some exciting projects hitting the table. We’ve also seen some discipline around controlling the deficit – these are all really positive things, and this is reflected in the views of the ratings agencies on Malta. I remain very optimistic – Malta is a very small but open economy, and if it leverages that openness and willingness to work hard, it will do extremely well. I leave Malta with a sense of optimism about the direction of the economy,” he says. Asked whether he feels the island’s economic growth and recent property boom has led the Maltese to be less cautious than they were in the past, Mr Watkinson points out that in his view, the average individual remains conservative: “I haven’t seen people OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

“I’ve always found people in Malta to be open, warm and welcoming, and I hope that will also be the case in Bermuda.”

throw caution to the wind.” As for whether the property boom that Malta is currently experiencing is sustainable, Mr Watkinson maintains that there has been a steadying of the market. “We’ve seen that property has recovered its price since the depth of the financial crisis. What is probably the most active part of the economy is the higher-end, more expensive properties, but I’m not seeing a bubble. I think that the mass property market has remained quite steady and affordable,” he maintains. Tied to this, I point to recent figures released by the Central Bank showing that non-performing loans are on the increase locally. Mr Watkinson’s take is that this is more to do with the lengthy legal process involved than there being anything fundamentally wrong with the economy. Rather than increasing, he explains, nonperforming loans are actually starting to come down. The challenge for Malta in relation to non-performing loans, and the reason they look extremely high when compared to our neighbouring countries, he feels, is the legal process. “If you don’t get

a resolution for eight to 10 years, your nonperforming loans back up,” he explains. To combat this, he continues, the Central Bank is looking at ways to speed up this process. “It will have a positive impact on how quickly banks can clear non-performing loans, and that way they will come down.” Looking toward the future as he prepares for his move to Bermuda, I ask how he anticipates the situation to differ. While conceding that it is difficult to tell, Mr Watkinson maintains that Bermuda, which will be the tenth country he will have worked in, is another island economy with similarities and differences to the Maltese scenario. “There will be similarities because they’re both island cultures, but if you look at the Bermuda economy, it is very largely built around the financial services sector, whilst Malta’s economy is well diversified.” All things considered, Mr Watkinson views the move with optimism, adding that there is one similarity he is certainly hoping for: “I’ve always found people in Malta to be open, warm and welcoming, and I hope that will also be the case in Bermuda.” cc 91


Fresh flavours

Chefs around the US and beyond are celebrating the rise of authentic Mexican cuisine. Chefs are experimenting with this rich source of inspiration, and coming up with some wonderful things. Think tortillas stuffed with pork carnitas and lamb barbacoa, and tacos and burritos like you’ve never seen them before. Mexican cuisine is being hailed as the next big thing in the world of food, and we can’t wait for the gastronomic delights that will come out of this trend.

02. Toast The humble toasted bread that many of us have grown up with is experiencing a new, not-so-humble, lease of life. This much-loved snack has moved away from its roots at the breakfast table, and is taking its place as the bar snack of the year. And its toppings have taken an interesting turn too – ranging from the traditional ham and cheese varieties to fancier accompaniments like smoked shrimp, ricotta, avocado, spring onion, sesame and sunflower seeds.

06.

www.foodieforall.com

01.

Speaking of condiments and hot sauces in particular, there’s a new sriracha in town: harissa. While sriracha has reached its peak in popularity in the last few years, the new hot sauce set for world domination is looking likely to be harissa – a spread of dried chillies, garlic, tomatoes, caraway, paprika, coriander and olive oil that is common in Tunisia.

05. Foie Gras It’s controversial and probably always will be, but when the ban was lifted on foie gras in California earlier this year, high-end kitchens and luxury food lovers rejoiced. Finding its way to the apex of haute cuisine once more after a long fight to legalise it, foie gras will always divide opinion, but there’s no denying its renewed presence on the most refined of menus in 2016.

06. Kalettes What would you get if kale and brussels sprouts got together and reproduced? None other than the kalette: a hybrid vegetable with the leafy parts of kale and the stalk of brussels sprouts. The hybrid took British vegetable company Tozer Seeds 15 years to create, and it looks set to fill the gap for those who are bored of kale in their salad or sprouts as their serving of side veg. We’re not quite sure about this one – let’s just wait until it hits the supermarkets locally before we decide! cc

02.

04.

05.

www.amychaplin.com

03.

04. Harissa

ww w. ph aid on .co m

01. Mexican Cuisine

Tired of the same old ketchup, mayonnaise and occasional mustard? You’re in luck, because condiments are set to diversify, making room for all manner of different dips, seasonings, dressings and purées with which you can flavour your food. From spicy varieties and hot sauces made from chilli peppers, vinegar and garlic to sweet-spicy sauces and condiments like habanero honey, jalapeno honey, ghost chilli honey and ginger-citrus honey, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

www.saveur.com

Hungry? Sarah Micallef brings you what’s hot in the food world at the moment, and what we can look forward to munching on in the coming months.

www.kalettes.com

FOOD&WINE

03. World of Condiments

www.sf.eater.com OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

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CC design trends

A star attraction restored The imposing Fort St Elmo, with its magnificent star shape, has been commanding the entrances of both Marsamxett Harbour and Grand Harbour since the 16th century. Following the completion of an extensive restoration project on the site, Martina Said meets conservation architect at Heritage Malta Daphne Fenech to find out about the fort’s glorious reinstatement and the new National War Museum housed within its walls.

“I Photo by Steven Psaila

wouldn’t go as far as saying that the restoration of Fort St Elmo is the project that linked the top of Valletta to the bottom, but it is a step in the direction of highlighting to tourists and locals alike that Valletta doesn’t stop at the Grand Master’s Palace,” says conservation architect and consulting project architect on behalf of Heritage Malta, Daphne Fenech, with more than a hint of pride. Following a lengthy period of restoration and the housing of a new National War Museum, the impressive OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

Fort St Elmo was unveiled to the public last May, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Fort St Elmo’s history is as rich as its fabric. It came into being after the arrival of the Order of St John in Malta in 1530. “The oldest structure on the peninsula is a chapel, which was later dedicated to St Anne and was incorporated into the fabric of the fort. Upon the arrival of the Knights, a small star-shaped fort was built right at the edge of the peninsula to defend the harbour,” explains Daphne. “After the fort was captured

by the Turks during the Great Siege of 1565, changes were made to it to defend it against another possible siege. Fort St Elmo reflects the evolution of a complex of buildings rather than one single block.” Every military engineer called upon by the Order, of which there were many, made changes to parts of the fort to reflect the military equipment being used at the time, also adopting the latest in defence architecture. Modifications continued to be made during British rule until WWII, making 95


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“Fort St Elmo reflects the evolution of a complex of buildings rather than one single block.”

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Photos by Steven Psaila

Fort St Elmo a marvellous tapestry displaying the evolution of military architecture in Malta. Until recently, a section of the vast expanse that is Fort St Elmo was being used and maintained by the Malta Police Academy, while the rest of the fort was in a state of neglect due to its redundancy as a military base. “The restoration of the fort was on the political agenda for a while. Government addressed the project following the availability of the EU’s Regional Development Funding Programme,” says Daphne, “and the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation (GHRC) submitted an application for funding within the 2007-2013 programme period.” The programme granted €27 million; €17 million of which were allocated to the restoration of Fort St Elmo and the rest to fund the restoration of Fort St Angelo in Birgu. Works on the Fort St Elmo restoration masterplan began in 2009, when a committee was set up and a memorandum of understanding drawn between GHRC and Heritage Malta, the latter coming on board as consultants to the project and eventual operators of the site as the national agency for museums, conservation practice and cultural heritage. Works on site began in 2011 when the Police Academy was relocated from the fort, and were divided in two major phases: the restoration phase and the design, finishing and outfitting of the new National War Museum. OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


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“The new National War Museum presented an opportunity for Heritage Malta to open its doors to those interested in studying Malta’s military history.”

Photo by Sean Mallia Photo by Steven Psaila

Photo by Sean Mallia

“There is no better way to understand this artefact than to take a walk through it” Forward Architects, together with UK-based Land Design Studio and Tim Gardom Associates (TGAC) formed a joint venture and took on the design of the new museum experience at Fort St Elmo. Michael Pace, project architect for museum design and outfitting and partner at Forward Architects, shares his experience of and contribution to the National War Museum. “The previous war museum was a popular one, therefore replacing it was a risk, but it was a risk well taken as the new museum offers a lot more. We took a niche museum and extended it on a much larger scale and to cover a wider period of Malta’s military history. The greatest challenge here was selecting which artefacts to put on display and which to omit, due to the large quantity of artefacts available. The building was handed over to us in a finished state, complete with plastered walls and installed doors. Our scope was to create a visitor experience within the finished blocks. From the outset, it was important to ensure that the set-up is reversible. Impact on the building envelope was kept to a minimum so that the experience can be removed at any point in the future, leaving minimal trace. The visitor experience is communicated through the use of various media, from traditional static displays to large graphics and audio-visual experiences. Display vitrines and mounts are designed to be as simple as possible so as give prominence to the artefacts and to the building itself. The fort is central to the narrative. It is the museum’s most prominent artefact and marries well with the content, including artefacts that pre-date the fort, to create one coherent and exciting story. The museum occupies a number of buildings on the upper levels of the fort surrounding the parade ground, with additional installations at ground floor level and along the ring road around the fort. The museum’s main audio-visual show is housed within the stunning Cavalier, just off the Parade Ground. All said, Fort St Elmo and its War Museum make for a great story that will capture the imagination of anyone who visits it. There is no better way to understand the fort and its place in history than to take a walk through it and take a look for yourself. The narrative is fun, informative and easy to follow. You can visit for an hour or two or spend half a day – each tailored visit giving equal satisfaction.” OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

Given the sheer magnitude of the site, restoration works were split to focus on the precincts within and around the inner bastions during the initial stage. This phase comprised structural, archaeological and aesthetic interventions. “Among the structural aspects that needed to be addressed were stress cracks in the bastion walls, while archaeological excavations had to be carried out both to study the fort and to allow for the passage of services. The aesthetic element required care of the material fabric, therefore cleaning of the stone, removal of vegetation and replacing stone in some areas. “Most of the bastion walls were in good condition so there wasn’t much reconstruction to be done, but the fort is exposed to the elements and its fabric needed attention. We also restored some of the original apertures and replaced ones that were missing,” she explains. The new museum, which replaced and built upon the popular War Museum operated by Heritage Malta, has extended its purpose and breadth within the fort, making it one of the star attractions (second to the fort itself) within the building. No new structures were added to the building, rather the fort houses the exhibition within pre-existing structures. “The previous museum, although it was an extensive exhibition, was limited to the vaults at Vendome’s Bastion, close to lower Elmo, and focused almost entirely on WWII as most of the exhibits belonged to that era,” says Daphne. “It was a very popular museum that neatly summed up that phase of history, but what we felt was lacking was a more comprehensive story of the military history of Malta, which we know is not limited to WWII.” She adds that every restoration project, in order to be kept alive, needs a purpose, and what better place to exhibit the military history of an island if not in such a historic fortification? “The barrack blocks provided the space for the new museum and they now exhibit artefacts, stories, audio-visual shows and information on Malta’s role in the military history of the Mediterranean and the world.” Visitors can move through the dedicated space and travel through time, starting with prehistory through to the Great Siege, the blockade during the French period, the handing over of Malta to Great Britain, the role of Malta during WWI and II, up to the Cold War and a series of exhibitions on the island becoming a republic, independent, its accession to the EU and, most recently, the role Malta played in the Libya crisis. 99


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Photos by Steven Psaila

The new museum presented an opportunity for Heritage Malta to open its doors to those interested in studying Malta’s military history, and boasts an archive which will eventually protect a collection of documents for research. The national agency also introduced a new concept for visitors in that it provides free access to some areas of the fort, thereby giving this historic site back to the public. One of the greatest challenges concerning the new museum was that of incorporating a new and contemporary exhibition space into a historic building. “Building a museum from scratch, which is already a daunting task, is not as daunting as trying to fit a new, equipped museum into a structure that you need to treat with care,” explains Daphne. “In fact, we had a big team of architects and designers from various fields working together, and they went about creating a separate structure within the architecture which houses all the infrastructure that we need. So you can rip everything out and still have the architectural shell intact. At the same time, the design was intended to enhance the architectural experience of the blocks.” Daphne uses the cavalier to illustrate an example, which is one of the earliest structures on site, and one of the most modified, as it retained its use until WWII. “Most of the architecture of this part is intact, but the changes that were made throughout the centuries are very visible and it is easy to distinguish the

“The fort is central to the narrative. It is the museum’s most prominent artefact and marries well with the content.” interventions made during the Knights’ period and those made during the British period. This area was effectively turned into a theatrical experience, with stories told by characters projected onto the wall of the cavalier. The same stories told in another building would not make sense.” As the funds allocated to this project did not cover the restoration of the whole site, Daphne says there are still many areas that have yet to be seen to. “We hope that the fort will benefit from future investment, so that the rest of the site will benefit from the same treatment granted to the heart of the fort.” Notwithstanding, however, Fort St Elmo has a lot to offer and should appeal to a vast range of individuals. “I would say the fort itself is the main attraction, but it really comes down to personal taste. One visitor might be after the view from the fort, another the architecture, and yet another after the museum. It will appeal to everyone in a different way, and that is the beauty of it.” cc

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Tech trends

GADGETS

04. Speedo Shine

Whether you’re looking to treat yourself to a cool new toy, or are already planning what to give as a present for Christmas, Marie-Claire Grima shares some of the most interesting tech picks of the moment. 01. Samsung GearS2 Smartwatch The hotly-anticipated bigger and bolder Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch delivers several improvements over the original version. Running Samsung’s own Tizen operating system, it now features wireless charging, voice recording and control facilities, and better notifications, as well as a whole lot of apps. It’s also been designed with fitness fans in mind: it is water and dust-resistant with a heart rate monitor and basic fitness tracking.

02. The Impossible Project Instant Lab Photo Printer The cameras on our phones keep getting better and better, but most of us simply share them to Facebook or Instagram and never look at them again. The Impossible Project’s Instant Lab Photo Printer can change that. It acts as a mini-version of a traditional darkroom, exposing the images on your smartphone or tablet’s screen onto its Polaroid-format instant film and giving you a physical version to cherish. Just load the camera with your film, download the Impossible Project App and get printing!

03. Ubik Uno Ubik used Kickstarter not only to fund the production of their first smartphone model, but also to gather feedback from potential users about what they wanted out of the design. It touts itself as an affordable flagship smartphone with no strings attached, and features a bezel-less design, allowing for a wider screen without increasing the size of the phone itself. With Gorilla Glass protecting it from bumps and scratches, and a one-piece aluminium body, it’s a durable beast which naturally resists overheating, but if its battery goes bad prematurely, it can’t be replaced.

It’s not what it sounds like. Renowned wearable tech makers Misfit have teamed up with Speedo to create the world’s first activity, swim, and sleep tracker, designed with swimmers in mind. Made out of durable aircraft-grade aluminium, Speedo Shine is waterproof to 50 metres and has special swim tracking capabilities, tracking your lap counts and swim distance, and works with all stroke types.

05. Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless headphones British audio geeks Bowers & Wilkins took a longer time than most to acquiesce to the idea of wireless headphones, but they have finally come around. Their new wireless headphones produce a clear, detailed sound that is practically indistinguishable from the traditional variety, while retaining the elegant and comfortable design that have made them cult favourites.

01.

06. Neato Botvac Diminutive robot vacuum cleaners have been around for a while, but the Neato Botvac can scan and map the room through laser technology before giving it a thorough cleaning. It comes with boundary markers that can be placed wherever you don’t want it to go – away from pet bowls, electrical cords and your kids’ toys. If it runs out of charge in the middle of a cleaning job, it immediately goes back to its charge base to juice up, then returns to where it left off. cc

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Beyond Limits In order to traverse the entire length of the UK on a bike, you need strength, stamina and absolute determination – all of which KPMG Audit Partner Hilary Galea-Lauri has in spades. Inspire’s cycling champion tells Marie-Claire Grima all about his incredible journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats: how he motivated himself, what pushed him past the finish line and why you can’t always trust Google Maps.

“I was doing research about potential end-to-end cycling courses, and I stumbled across this iconic route. I’ve studied in the UK and I know the country well. It was calling out my name.” OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015

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Photo by Alan Carville

“H

umans are not designed to be extraordinary. We are designed to be lazy.” So says Hilary Galea-Lauri, who last August undertook an epic 1,600km bike ride known as LEJOG, from the southernmost part of the United Kingdom (Land’s End) to its uppermost village (John O’Groats) in order to raise funds for local NGO Inspire. He made it in less than 12 days and raised more than €13,000 by way of donations. By his own yardstick, he must be something of a mutant. As it turns out, Mr Galea-Lauri is just as human as you or I. However, he is incredibly driven, fuelled by a thirst for adventure and a deep-seated attraction for challenges that would make most people feel mildly fatigued just thinking about them. Anything that others describe as ‘impossible’ is to him as a red rag is to a bull: he barrels towards it head on, determined to prove the naysayers wrong. For many years, cycling was simply a way to combat the pressure Mr Galea-Lauri put on his joints and muscles from other forms of training, including medium-to-longdistance running. However, he began cycling in earnest around four years ago, and it became a passion – one that even directed his choice of holiday destinations. “When I go on holiday, I always want to be out on the bike, doing something adventurous. I hate sitting around playing tourist. I’m always saying that you should pack as much of life as you can in the limited time that you have. Cycling allows me to see and do so much more in very little time.” The idea of doing an end-to-end cycling route struck him as highly appealing even before he had ever heard of LEJOG. “I was doing research about potential end-to-end cycling courses, and I stumbled across this iconic route. I’ve studied in the UK and I know the country well. It was calling out my name.” He chose Inspire as the NGO to benefit from his fundraising efforts because he had always admired the can-do ethos it brought to hospice care – focusing not only on the basic needs of its members such as medical care and housing, but also on the inclusion and integration of its members within wider society. Once he had set off on the gruelling voyage, social media provided Mr Galea-Lauri with a platform to share his experiences – he blogged throughout his journey, and he soon amassed a significant following that was keeping up with his daily adventures. “You have a clearer picture of the nature of the challenge when someone tells you they’re cycling the length of Great Britain, rather than simply 1,600km, and I think that was an important hook for people who were reading my blog. I also made sure to keep

“If you simply focus on the end result, any obstacle that comes your way seems manageable – just another situation to deal with.”

it interesting, to encourage people to come back wondering what comes next.” Some of the highlights of the journey included the scenic parts of the route, including Cornwall and the Highlands – his favourites – as well as the sense of accomplishment that followed the ascent to Shap Fell in Cumbria. Was he ever personally

surprised by anything? “You can’t coast on LEJOG. I had looked up the route on Google Maps thinking there were stretches where it would be easy to sit back and rest, letting the bike do most of the work, but there’s always a tiny incline that isn’t accounted for. Other than when riding a descent, you have to pedal all the way.” OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


CC interview

“I’m a big believer in passion and discipline – if you’re missing one of them, you won’t get anywhere. If you have both, you can move mountains.”

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You need to be in fantastic physical shape to even consider doing something like LEJOG, but by Mr Galea-Lauri’s own admission, his mental tenacity and resilience play a much more significant part in his achievements than how strong his muscles are. In preparing for LEJOG, he did not vary his normal training routine tremendously, but rather shifted his entire focus to the task at hand. “Once I commit myself to a task or a challenge, it’s very difficult to stop me from doing it.” His drive to accomplish the goals he sets for himself is the key motivator behind everything he does. When he wants an extra dose of inspiration, he plays footage from the last few moments of events such as the Tour de France in slow motion, taking in the ecstatic expressions of people who reach the finish line, having given it their all. “When we were training for Kilimanjaro in 2007, we were taught visualisation – a technique where you stop thinking about the hardships you will inevitably face, and simply picture the joy and triumph that come at the end. It’s a method that works. If you simply focus on the end result, any obstacle that comes your way seems manageable – just another situation to deal with.” “I also play a lot of mind games with myself when I’m facing a hard situation. Three days before the end of the journey, I was very close to giving up. I was exhausted, dehydrated, disorientated and hit by all the elements. There were 150 kilometres to go to fill the quota for that day and they felt further than the moon. But instead of focusing on the remaining length of the journey as a whole, I told myself, ‘Just do another 10 kilometres’. That was achievable, and when I got there, I said, ‘OK, how about another 10?’ And so on. By breaking it down into more manageable chunks, I managed to reach my goal.” He laughs. “I had a proper rest that night, and the next day I rode like a beast.” By day, Galea-Lauri is a partner at KPMG. He doesn’t strike me as the sort of person who can compartmentalise his take-no-prisoners approach to physical challenges and live the rest of his life in a completely different way, so I ask him if he brings the same jet-fuelled drive to work. He confirms it, and again admits that he believes the human default setting to be laziness – which is why he struggles against it at every chance he gets. “I’m a big believer in passion and discipline – if you’re missing one of them, you won’t get anywhere. If you have both, you can move mountains. Taking up cycling and endurance challenges has also shaped the lens through which I look at the rest of my life. Where others see limitations, I see opportunities.” cc 109


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Introducing Chivas 12 ‘Made for Gentlemen’ by Globe-Trotter Craftsmanship, generosity and a passion for travel are at the heart of the new collaboration between British luxury brands Chivas Regal and Globe-Trotter. Renowned for handcrafting luxury luggage, Globe-Trotter has partnered with Chivas to design an exciting series of three collectibles for the whisky connoisseur and world traveller – the Chivas 12 ‘Made for Gentlemen’ by Globe-Trotter limited edition gift tin, a limited run of Chivas 12 ‘Made for Gentlemen’ by Globe-Trotter 20 inch carryon cases and a made on request Chivas 12 ‘Made for Gentlemen’ by Globe-Trotter steamer trunk. The Chivas 12 Made for Gentlemen by Globe-Trotter limited edition gift tin

Dedicated to excellence Quad Consultancy Managing Director Mark J Galea provides an overview of the company’s successful journey over the past five years since its inception. Why did you set up your own business? I am very spontaneous by nature. My career path was, possibly, the only thing I had planned. My original plan was to set up my business when I reach 40, but due to personal circumstances, my plan was pushed forward. As an HR professional, I was disappointed with the service I was receiving in recruitment. I also spotted a gap in the market for day-to-day HR support; so I decided to set up an ‘offsite HR department’ that aims to deliver an HR-oriented service rather than a sales-oriented service.

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houses a bottle of Chivas 12 blended Scotch whisky and showcases a vibrant tale of international travel. Inspired by the tradition of applying stickers onto one’s luggage to proudly showcase destinations visited, bespoke luggage stickers were hand-drawn by the British illustrator Andrew Davidson to celebrate iconic cities and adorn the contemporary tin design. A first from Globe-Trotter, the Chivas 12 ‘Made for Gentlemen’ carry-on case is a 20 inch trolley case that has been crafted to suit the needs of the busy modern gentleman on short haul business trips and city breaks. Created to be stowed in the flight cabin of all international airlines, the 20 inch trolley case features a customised lining that elegantly intertwines a neverseen-before Globe-Trotter archive design with the Chivas iconic signifier. The sturdy burgundy vulcanised fibreboard case also features wooden handles, brush brass hardware and an internal leather plaque to mark the collaboration for posterity. The launch event took place on 28th October at Quarterdeck Bar, Hilton. The evening, organised by Farsons Beverage Imports Company Ltd was a great success

How does your company compare today to when it was set up five years ago? There have been many changes. In addition to recruitment, we now also offer a wider array of services such as HR consultancy, payroll, legal advisory, accounting and bookkeeping, IT and PR consultancy; which makes us a one-stop-shop for new and existing businesses. Our brand awareness has grown. We’re now in the exciting phase where our customers recommend us to their contacts. The one thing that stayed the same, though, is our objective: adding value to clients through professional, win/win service delivery.

and included a prize draw to win one of the limited edition Chivas 12 ‘Made for Gentlemen’ carry-on cases. Chivas cocktails were served throughout the night and included the signature Chivas-Globetrotter cocktail, ‘The Maximilian’, to commemorate the collaboration. cc

At Quad you talk about adding value to businesses. How do you achieve that? We work with, and for our clients; as their business partner. We act as though we’re their employees. Our aim is to deliver quality service, and to achieve this we have assembled a team of qualified and seasoned professionals. Understanding the clients’ needs when contracting our services is key to a successful delivery. We are service-oriented as opposed to money/sales-oriented. What advice would you give to people who are thinking of setting up a new business? It’s never ‘the right time’. There are always other priorities that prevent you from taking the plunge. If you truly believe that you can make a difference to your clients, you should just go for it. cc Quad Consultancy. T: 2099 4444; E: maltateam@quadconsultancy.com; www.quadconsultancy.com

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MAPFRE Middlesea’s Professional Indemnity Insurance As a professional, you owe a duty of care to your clients who might reasonably rely upon the service or advice you have provided. Therefore, you can be held legally liable to provide compensation if a third party suffers a loss as a result of any professional negligence. Here’s a look at how Professional Indemnity Insurance may protect you and your livelihood. A Professional Indemnity Insurance policy protects insured professionals against claims made against them by third parties for injury, loss or damage as a result of any negligent act, error or omission whilst carrying out their professional services. Apart from the compensation payable, the policy also covers claimants’ costs and legal expenses incurred in the investigation, defence and/or settlement of a claim.

MAPFRE Middlesea p.l.c offers tailor-made Professional Indemnity Insurance for a number of professionals who provide a service such as medical practitioners, accountants and auditors, lawyers and notaries, architects and civil engineers, and electrical and mechanical engineers. The cover includes: any negligent act, negligent error or negligent omission; with the option to also include libel and slander (including malicious falsehood); loss or damage to documents; dishonesty of employees; prior acts; and extended reporting.  As a professional it’s important to assess your risk and consider coverage, because as an independent, you don’t have the financial resources of a big company to back you up

Delivering excellent interior and exterior design solutions Our priority at Design HUB is to deliver aesthetically pleasing, functional and affordable interior/exterior design solutions.

in the event of a client lawsuit. Remember that whilst you may be satisfied with your work, if you do not meet client expectations, your business could face sizable claims for compensation and legal defence costs. Even if the lawsuit is completely baseless, a professional could suffer large financial losses to defend against claims. Therefore, professional indemnity insurance that defends you from disastrous financial loss, in this light is more of a necessity. cc MAPFRE Middlesea Insurance p.l.c. (C-5553) is authorised by the Malta Financial Services Authority to carry on both Long Term and General Business under the Insurance Business Act, 1998.

Our local and foreign clients are welcome to choose from a selection of design packages depending on their intentions, budgets and briefs. Our clients’ projects may range from building a property from scratch and taking it to the final design stages to simply re-designing one particular room within an existing space. Steered by our clients’ aspirations, as well as their widespread experiences, the firm designs exteriors and interiors, with the ultimate aim of allowing clients to fully express what they are about and what holds meaning to them through our designs. Our team passionately dedicates much time and effort to illustrating designs to the highest standards, giving clients the ability to visualise the investment before any construction or manufacturing commences. We present our clients with detailed sketches, realistic visual renderings and finally precise working drawings. Design HUB offers interior/exterior design packages in a wide variety of project genres including Residential, Commercial, Hotels, Bars, Night Clubs, Restaurants, Offices, Custom Furniture, Landscaping, Façades and Luxury Yachts, among others. cc M: 9944 1703; E: info@designhubmalta.com.mt; www.designhubmalta.com

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Cleland & Souchet, Portomaso – Malta’s destination for leading brands and products From their iconic food and wine hamper collection to their vast range of exclusive brands and distinctive gifts, Cleland & Souchet is the place where you can find the right present whatever the occasion, and even more so in Christmas.

The financing window for SMEs SMEs and start-ups represent over 95 per cent of the business entities in Malta. Access to finance for this sector can be particularly daunting because of a number of factors typically related to the innate characteristics of these players. One can mention their weak financial management, lack of proper governance and absence of succession plans, accentuated by information asymmetry, which is possibly the highest concern for banks as it can potentially lead to moral hazard. However, a strong entrepreneurial spirit, backed by good planning and market research can make all the difference. More and more SMEs are investing in proper corporate structures to ensure sustainable growth. Over the past five years, the Bank positioned itself as the Maltese Bank for SMEs. This process kicked off in 2011 when the Bank launched a €62 million revolving

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The flagship store in Portomaso is split between the ground floor which is dedicated to a wonderful range of gifts for ‘him, her and the home,’ while the first floor is dedicated to the world of quality wines, rare and premium spirits, cigars, fine foods and specialty confectionery and chocolates, most of which are exclusive to Cleland & Souchet. The retail concept is wonderfully unique as one can find exceptional luxury brands like Christofle silver and Baccarat crystal together with simple gift items like scented candles and decorative items together with wines and fine foods without anything feeling out of place. Each area of the store offers an incredible selection of brands to choose from and the friendly sales team is always at hand if you are looking for any advice or guidance. They are also experts at gift wrapping any gift, which makes the pleasure of shopping there so much fun.

financial instrument called the Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) developed by the European Investment Fund (EIF). Through the JEREMIE, the Bank provided finance to over 650 Maltese SMEs and start-ups generating a total investment exceeding €100 million in the Maltese economy. In 2014, the Bank consolidated its position in this market segment by successfully tapping into another EU Guarantee instrument targeting start-up companies. The BOV Start Plus financial instrument offers start-ups a small loan to kick-start their business idea with no obligation to provide the Bank with collateral. The other tailor-made product for SMEs is the BOV4SME. The Bank tapped into the ECB targeted Long Term Refinancing Operations (LTRO) to provide SMEs in the growth phase of their life cycle a financing facility that provides them with reduced interest rates and improved collateral terms. To-date this has assisted over 200 SMEs and micro enterprises to grow. The Bank’s efforts to support SMEs is validated by statistics that show that 99 per cent of the Bank’s clients are SMEs, constituting 77 per cent in terms of monetary exposure. The Bank’s support for SMEs goes beyond financing. Through its Community Programme, BOV seeks to collaborate with

This year, the company has completed a refurbishment of the gourmet area to accommodate a much bigger range of quality wines and premium spirits. The wine collection ranges from the top Bordeaux wines to popular brands like La Scolca, Montes and Pommery, while the new spirits section offers a great choice of malt whiskeys, vintage ports, premium vodkas and so much more. The shop is open Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 7.30pm and parking for patrons is free of charge. We also recommend that you try the C&S Wine Café for an excellent cup of coffee or a glass of your favourite wine as they have an incredible selection of 20 wines by the glass to choose from. cc Cleland & Souchet, 14, Portomaso, St Julian’s. T: 2138 9898; E: info@clelandsouchet.com; www.clelandsouchet.com

third parties to organise fora where topics of interest to this economic sector are discussed. cc Bank of Valletta p.l.c. is a public limited company licensed to conduct Banking and Investment Services business by the Malta Financial Services Authority.

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Old school barbering techniques for stylish men Antonio’s Barber Shop is a gentlemen’s quarters, catering for all styles and trends for men, using old school barbering techniques that are expertly mastered by our experienced and attentive barbers. At Antonio’s, clients are pampered within a traditional, stylish environment, and are welcomed upon entering the door and taken great care of until the moment they leave. We believe that barbering is an art and not just a haircut.

Additional services include hot towel shaves and beard grooming with a traditional single-blade razor. We invite you to recline in one of our plush barber chairs and start off by placing a hot towel on your face. Next, we massage cleansing oil into your skin to clean out your pores and finally a hot towel is applied to your face – pure bliss. Next, the barber works up a warm lather into your beard and starts to shave. Your face is then cleaned and a cool towel is applied to your face to close the pores. To finish off, you will be treated to a face massage and a post-shave balm is applied. Every man should experience the pleasure of a great shave! We also invite you to make use of our other facilities which include tailored pampering at the Men’s Vanity Parlour such as manicures, pedicures, facials, hair removal and massages, all under one roof. Whiskey, coffee and other drinks are served with a smile during your visit. When you walk out you can’t help but feel great and look forward to your next visit! cc Antonio’s Barber Shop, 21/23, Birbal Street, Balzan. For more information or to book an appointment call on T: 2737 4443; M: 9937 4443.


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Developing Sustainably As the European Year for Development, 2015 is shining a light on how CSR can help to make a real difference where it’s needed most. Here, Jo Caruana speaks to SOS Malta’s Claudia Taylor-East to discover how businesses can do more to encourage sustainable development in Malta and beyond.

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his year is a special one for development: it is the first ever European Year (a theme that changes annually) to deal with the European Union’s external action and Europe’s role in the world. Thus, for development organisations all over Europe it is an unparalleled opportunity to showcase Europe’s commitment to eradicate poverty worldwide and to inspire more Europeans to get

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engaged and involved in development. “The European Year for Development 2015 (EYD) is a key opportunity to raise awareness of development across Europe, and to show European taxpayers that every euro spent on development benefits both people living in some of the world’s poorest countries, and EU citizens themselves,” explains Claudia Taylor-East, who is the Chief Executive Officer for the NGO SOS Malta.

“We have been very pleased to engage the private sector to support our work both in Malta and overseas, and through both funding and direct participation.” 119


CC in depth

“Businesses can provide sponsorships or financing for activities and NGO projects… as well as provide skills and expertise to enhance the effectiveness of particular projects, whether IT knowledge or marketing expertise.”

Ms Taylor-East has been engaged in promoting volunteering in Malta and overseas for several years, and has seen first-hand how businesses can help the third sector, and vice versa. As a result, SOS Malta has conducted development and CSR-related work with various local businesses. I ask Ms Taylor-East whether she thinks sustainable development practices are present in Malta yet. “To a certain extent they are,” she explains, “but awareness of them, and recognition of their importance, is relatively low when compared to other countries in Europe. It is also important to note that sustainable development, as a concept, is very broad, so people may have an understanding about elements of it but not all of it.” Ms Taylor-East talks about the benefits of having year-long events, such as the EYD, to support the growth of sustainable development. 120

“Having EU support, impetus and funds behind an issue of this kind does help in promoting it within the general public, with politicians and with businesses,” she says. “Given that there is a lot of visibility planned, it helps to raise awareness of the topic and encourages the involvement of sectors that are not normally engaged in issues of this kind. On the flip side, though, one negative is that, as the theme changes annually, a lot of the impetus could be lost once EYD is over.” Nevertheless, Ms Taylor-East hopes that through the array of events, initiatives and promotion planned, an awareness of sustainable development will be built. “Already we’ve seen that targeted events and initiatives, such as our Slogan Competition, the Youth Debate and other initiatives from civil society such as Action 2015, have facilitated a lot of important awareness about this theme,” she says. Naturally, Corporate Social Responsibility

(CSR) is a very important part of sustainable development and SOS Malta has worked extensively to raise awareness of this. “We have worked with schools, for instance, and ran activities with young people on the topic,” continues Ms Taylor-East. “We have also worked with the general public and policy makers, through events such as workshops, exhibitions and flash-mobs, as well as through conferences and seminars. “Currently, we are participating in a development education project called LADDER (www.ladder-project.eu), which is promoting development related to CSR and migration. Naturally, encouraging businesses to consider CSR as part of their annual plan is very important.” To facilitate this, SOS Malta ran the EPSEV project, which developed and implemented a CSR training course for business practitioners. It encouraged the setting up of Corporate Volunteering Schemes between OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


CC in depth

“Both in 2015 and beyond, and regardless of the industry or sector, we should all be doing everything we can to support sustainable development.” the private sector and not-for-profit and nongovernmental organisations within the EU. “Beyond that, we also ran VolCare, in collaboration with CareMalta, and provided volunteers to work in elderly care homes. This facilitated another collaboration, this time with Deloitte, who are providing employees to volunteer for VolCare. We have been very pleased to engage the private sector to support our work both in Malta and overseas, and through both funding and direct participation.” Asked about how businesses in Malta can do more to boost their CSR activities, Ms Taylor-East suggests teaming up with an NGO to form partnerships – perhaps by participating as valid members of the organisation or, potentially, joining the board. “Businesses can provide sponsorships or financing for activities and NGO projects,” she says. “They can also provide skills and expertise to enhance the effectiveness of particular projects, whether IT knowledge, the provision of marketing expertise, or 122

joining a scheme like VolCare. Companies often find that CSR is very beneficial when it comes to increasing staff engagement and support for the company, while also helping to shed light on their business too. That said, CSR should be an end in itself!” she smiles. As for the way forward, Ms Taylor-East suggests that CSR should become the norm for all companies, and should also be promoted on a governmental level. “For instance, companies should take responsibility for the enforcement of environmentally-sustainable practices within their workforce, their building, and even their supply chain,” she says. “They should also be encouraged to support social initiatives through tax breaks or other incentives. “Both in 2015 and beyond, and regardless of the industry or sector, we should all be doing everything we can to support sustainable development. It really is in the best interest of all of us to ensure that we make a difference at this vital time within the world’s future,” she concludes. cc

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OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2015


Profile for Content House Group

The Commercial Courier October/November 2015  

The official business magazine of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry

The Commercial Courier October/November 2015  

The official business magazine of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry

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