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Levels of abstraction Rupert Cefai’s themes and techniques






food trends 11 COVER STORY BUDGET 2018: A BUDGET FOR THE BEST OF TIMES? Rebecca Anastasi looks at the key features of Budget 2018, discussing whether its proposals maximise potential for the economy and business at large.





NO SURPRISES IN THE BUDGET Malta Chamber President Frank V. Farrugia tells Sarah Micallef where he believes local businesses stand following Budget 2018.

Martina Said speaks to architect Bernard Vella from Il-Periti about the intriguing details that went into a St Julian’s office with an incredible view.



A look into the figures related to Valletta 2018.

THE INTERNATIONAL OUTLOOK Jo Caruana chats to six high-powered expats who’ve chosen to make Malta their base.



Manuel Zarb speaks to former politicians from the Labour and Nationalist Parties about their experiences in politics and how they’ve readjusted to life as private citizens.



style review

Artist Rupert Cefai looks back on his journey and artistic process with Sarah Micallef, revealing future plans in the pipeline.



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. Articles appearing in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publishers is strictly prohibited.

The Exchange, Republic Street, Valletta VLT1117 Tel: +356 2123 3873 Fax: +356 2124 5223 EDITOR

Kevin J. Borg Editorial Coordinators

Sarah Micallef Edward Bonello Publisher

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Jean Mark Meli Bernard Schranz Matthew Sciriha sales coordinator

Lindsey Napier Tel: +356 2132 0713 Printer

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ON THE COVER Detail from ‘Ta Giezu’ – work by Rupert Cefai.

Malta chamber’s bronze collaborating partners OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017


CC Editorial

The delicate balance As the country gears up for the new year, Government presented a Budget which, in the Malta Chamber’s view, struck a right balance between providing the right impetus to businesses, while making sure not to upset the apple-cart.


he Budget as read out by Minister Scicluna on Monday 9th October reflected Government’s commitment to maintaining the economy’s favourable momentum within the context of another projected surplus. In fact, from an analysis of the macroeconomic figures, it is immediately evident that the economy is performing well and the recent positive economic performances have generated a positive effect on the state of public finances. In its pre-Budget recommendations, the Chamber called for a Budget that seeks to capitalise on present economic resilience to invest in the necessary infrastructure and safeguard future sustainability. At the same time, the Chamber called for further competitiveness-enhancing measures with a view to ensure further growth and jobs in the country.


The Chamber was most pleased to note that its call on Government not to take businesses by surprise was largely heeded. This is obviously to the advantage of business momentum. In the past, businesses had to contend with a situation where during a time when they would be getting ready for the busiest season of the year, i.e. Christmas time, they were burdened with figuring out the introduction of new unwieldy measures. This left a great impact on their operation, not to mention an added expense. The Chamber was pleased that Government’s intention to introduce a deposit and refund system on plastic and glass beverage bottles has been shelved for 2019, giving all interested parties enough time to discuss such a system’s implementation in a way that its inevitable affects will be cushioned sufficiently. The Chamber in fact looks forward

to the opening of formal consultations with the authorities to ensure that the objectives of this environmentally-friendly measure, which the Chamber is in favour of in principle, will be achieved through fair and equitable implementation on all direct operators whilst ascertaining the sustainability of existing waste management schemes. With regard to better regulation, the Chamber also welcomed the long overdue announcement made by Government on the offsetting of payments between private operators and Government. The Malta Chamber had been calling for this initiative to be implemented for over a decade. Thanks to this mechanism, businesses will be able to offset moneys that they are owed with others they would owe Government. This will improve business’ flexibility and liquidity in the immediate term. 07

CC Editorial

On the other hand, the Chamber was disappointed to note that Government missed yet another opportunity to address an increasingly alarming situation related to the price of energy for non-residential use. For the third consecutive year, the Malta Chamber called on Government to acknowledge the fact that companies based in Malta are still paying among the highest energy rates across the EU. Although the local business rates were decreased in 2015, the competitive nature of the international markets led to higher reductions elsewhere. In advance of the Budget, the Malta Chamber proposed a number of measures that would help businesses overcome the expensive tariffs incurred, including an improved Night Tariff framework, purchasing flexibility, as well as the introduction of privately managed energy distribution substations. The Malta Chamber is disappointed that, once again, none of these measures were considered in the Budget. Another issue that characterised the pre-Budget national discussion was Government’s pre-electoral promise to reintroduce compensation in the form of vacation leave for public holidays falling on a weekend. The Malta Chamber noted the announcement. In its immediate reactions to the Budget, the Malta Chamber said that Government’s decision to introduce just one day in 2018 was a sign of good will and that discussions with the employer bodies were ongoing with a view to ensure that the final effect of this measure is cost-neutral to employers. Another matter which the Chamber spoke about at length in its pre-Budget document was the dire need for the country to invest and upgrade its ageing infrastructure. In fact, the Malta Chamber welcomed Government’s drive to start re-investing heavily in the country’s infrastructure, especially the country’s road network. The Malta Chamber welcomed the announced setting up of a new authority responsible for the country’s road infrastructure through the investment of €700 million over the coming seven-year span. The Chamber looks forward to contributing its recommendations on the matter in an effort to solve the congestion problem that is costing the environment as well as business and citizens dearly. All in all, the Chamber views this Budget as a courageous attempt by Government to strike the delicate balance between the various elements that make the economic wheel go round. The Malta Chamber remains available to help Government and all parties with its expert advice. It also remains vigilant to ascertain that measures are implemented in an equitable and smooth fashion. cc 08



Budget 2018: A Budget for the best of times? The much-awaited Budget 2018 was rolled out in a period of financial and economic buoyancy, with Maltese coffers showing a steadily increasing surplus. But, does the scope of its proposals maximise potential for the economy and business at large? Rebecca Anastasi looks at the key features.


he current upswing in economic growth, which, according to Government, saw a surplus of more than €100 million registered in 2016 and is expected to rise as indicated by the preliminary figures for 2017, was underlined ahead of the 2018 Budget speech. Words like ‘economic miracle’, ‘unprecedented growth rates’ and ‘improving quality of life’ were all used in the pre-Budget document, with Malta’s economic performance exceeding expectations for 2016. This promised to be a Budget for the best of times; one guaranteeing sustainable growth. Indeed, the proposals unveiled by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna attempt to capitalise on the current economic resilience, while investing in the necessary infrastructure to guarantee a long-term future. Measures designed to enhance competitiveness, invest in new industries and opportunities post-Brexit, as well as cater


to specific sectors, such as pharmaceuticals and Gozitan enterprises, were all outlined. Initiatives will also be implemented in a drive to increase spending power, while cash will be poured into infrastructural development, though time will tell whether the latter is a case of ‘too little, too late’ or if these motions, working in tandem, are characterised by strong fundamentals which will maximise potential. New industries and Brexit A major theme of the Budget 2018 speech was the necessity to transform Malta into a centre of excellence which attracts new industries and foreign investment, guaranteeing that the islands remain competitive in an increasingly bullish global economy. Next year will see the introduction of the VAT grouping concept for the financial services and the remote gaming sectors, allowing entities having an independent

legal personality and a Maltese fixed establishment with a common financial, economic and organisational relationship to register as a single taxable person for the purposes of VAT. As a result, supplies between members of the same VAT group will be regarded as falling outside the scope of VAT. A new regulatory framework will be launched next year to provide further incentives for growth in the remote gaming sector, while a taskforce has been established to evaluate the implementation of a national blockchain strategy. Training initiatives for public sector employees in this sector will be organised while Government will launch a web portal to serve as a communication tool for those interested in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The plan is to create a Blockchain Hub in Malta and, to make this a reality, start-ups investing in blockchain technology will be given the support and assistance required. 11

CC COVER STORY Government is also actively working on attracting investment from the UK in the wake of Brexit. Some success in the area was already noted with the confirmation of Starr Insurance operating its European market out of Malta. However, the 2018 Budget also announced the establishment of a working group to draft a strategy to attract investment in the aviation and maritime industries, and specified that growth in the financial services sector will continue to be developed in the areas of digital economy, payment services and electronic payment segments. In the pharmaceutical sector, new training initiatives for laboratories will be conducted, to ensure a better return on investment in this area. Furthermore, the Medicines Authority will work to reduce the price of medicines, thus creating more market competition. Prof. Scicluna specified that work has already started in this regard, with 171 products having been reduced in price in the last four years. Finally, the Individual Investment Programme shall continue to be offered throughout 2018. Measures for fair competition In an attempt to fight unfair competition, increases in penalties for tax evasion being processed by the courts were announced, together with a reiteration of the commitment made by the Joint Enforcement Task Force to identify those entities and businesses evading taxes. Moreover, local companies can now avail themselves of an offset system allowing them to offset certain payments due to and

from the Maltese Government. Adjustments will also be made to the excise duty rates of steel rods and bars falling under specific HS Codes to ensure a level playing field compared to the importation of similar products. Smes, micro-enterprises and start-ups Budget 2018 has also outlined a plan to further support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), including MicroEnterprises. The facility to submit online social security forms and VAT returns will now be extended to companies employing less than 10 employees, while the MicroInvest Scheme will also be extended to enterprises which do not employ more than 50 (the current number stands at 30) full-time employees. In addition, MicroInvest assistance will be increased from €30,000 to €50,000 for businesses in Malta and €70,000 for businesses in Gozo, as well as those with a female majority shareholding and female self-employed undertakings. The VAT exempt threshold for SMEs will now also be increased from €14,000 to €20,000. Focus on Gozo The necessity to increase investment in Gozitan business and infrastructure was also underlined in the Budget 2018 speech, with entrepreneurs encouraged to operate from the island. From next year, those offering a minimum of a three-year full-time contract of

employment in Gozo to a Gozitan employee, will receive a 30 per cent refund (up to a maximum of €6,000) calculated on the employee’s average wage. The Government has also allocated funds for Gozitan entrepreneurs which operate in tourism, to aid them in improving their tourist establishments. Moreover, investment will be allocated to create a research and ICT hub which will be established at the Xewkija Industrial Area. Movement in the housing market The current upswing in the property market shows no sign of abating, and the Budget 2018 speech seemed to point to a systematic encouragement of the buying and selling of properties. The tax scheme for first-time buyers, originally introduced in 2014, exempting them from stamp duty on the first €150,000, will be extended for another year. Moreover, individuals termed ‘second-time buyers’ who sell their residential home, and acquire another, shall receive a refund of a maximum of €3,000 of the duty on documents paid. Incentives to purchase in Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs) and Gozo were also introduced. A refund of certain expenses incurred in restoring property scheduled within the first or second grade or situated in UCAs will be granted, while stamp duty on empty properties in UCAs will be reduced from five per cent to 2.5 per cent. In addition, the reduced stamp duty scheme (from five per cent to two per cent) for property bought in Gozo will be extended by another year.

Government is also actively working on attracting investment from the UK in the wake of Brexit.

Photo by DOI - Jason Borg




A White Paper will also be published detailing proposals aimed at the rental market and discussing, among other things, the registration of rental contracts with Government, the Deposit Retention Scheme and contractual terms. More money, more time There were no nasty surprises for tax payers in the Budget 2018 speech, with no new taxes confirmed and tax brackets staying the same. Rather, Government announced a one-time payment to all full-time and part-time workers earning up to €60,000 of a maximum of €68 and minimum of €40, depending on gross income from employment of the previous year. Minimum wage earners will be entitled to an increase of €3 a week in the second year of employment and an additional €3 in the third year with the same employer. Moreover, an additional day of leave was confirmed, starting the controversial implementation of the promise to reimburse workers for public holidays falling on a weekend. Furthermore, the active labour market policies including the ‘Making Work Pay’ and ‘In-Work Benefit’ schemes have been extended, and individuals who are below the age of 40 who decide to sit for a postgraduate Masters and PhD respectively will not pay any OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

income tax for up to two years following the finalisation of their course. While these initiatives may have a populist tinge to them, they might also have the knock-on effect of increased spending, benefitting businesses and the economy, due to the availability of more time and cash on people’s hands.

There were no nasty surprises for tax payers in the Budget 2018 speech, with no new taxes confirmed and tax brackets staying the same.

Photo by DOI - Jason Borg


CC COVER STORY Infrastructure and congestion To address concerns over traffic congestion and infrastructural weaknesses, Prof. Scicluna said €700 million will be invested in Malta and Gozo’s road network over a period of seven years, which will be overseen by a newly-established agency made up of architects, engineers and other professionals. Over the next two years, road works will continue to be carried out, he continued, to maintain and unblock main and subsidiary arteries, together with over 160 residential streets. Further promotion of car-pooling, incentives for the purchasing of bicycles, electrical bikes and scooters, grants for local councils and firms investing in bicycle racks, as well as improvements in ferry terminals were also put forward. Moreover, free transport for 16-20 year olds and for independent and church school students from the scholastic year 2018-2019 was announced. Furthermore, no registration tax will be payable on eco-friendly vehicles and no road licence will be paid on these during the first five years from registration date. Tourism and the environment No specific mention was made of the improvement of tourist zones and the mitigation of the negative consequences of increased construction on the islands, though the Budget 2018 speech did refer to the reorganisation of vehicular access to the Valletta Waterfront cruise liner terminal. Similarly, while mention was made of the restructuring of Air Malta, no details were forthcoming.

Despite this, Prof. Scicluna did announce that littering will be subject to stricter fines and law enforcement, and that discussion on a deposit scheme for plastic and glass beverage containers will commence. Ambjent Malta will also be set up to focus on the management of Natura 2000 sites. Investment in cleaner energy sources (such as solar farms, alternative energy, and the implementation of a new gas pipeline) and renewable energy and the implementation of water conservation schemes will be made. A national campaign for the efficient use of

water resources will be launched to educate consumers on the efficient use of water while Government will invest €150 million to implement an infrastructural project to turn waste into energy. Despite this, more aggressive proposals to balance economic prosperity with a smoother system might have been expected. The concern rests on the presumption that unbridled growth is a two-way street if it’s not accompanied by fundamental changes designed to address infrastructural vulnerabilities. cc

To address concerns over traffic congestion and infrastructural weaknesses, Prof. Scicluna said €700 million will be invested in Malta and Gozo’s road network over a period of seven years, which will be overseen by a newlyestablished agency made up of architects, engineers and other professionals.

Photo by DOI - Jason Borg




No surprises in the Budget Malta Chamber President Frank V. Farrugia weighs in on the recently announced Budget measures, and tells Sarah Micallef where he believes local businesses stand following Budget 2018.


here were no surprises in the Budget for 2018,” states Malta Chamber President Frank V. Farrugia as we sit down to discuss his views on the recently announced measures. “As a Chamber, we prepared a dossier with our Budget proposals which we presented to Government as we do each year – not all measures were accepted, but many were implemented. While what was not accepted is important to us, we feel that there were no surprises,” he says, making reference to the previous year’s unexpected and controversial excise tax. Moving on to specific measures, Mr Farrugia shares his thoughts on Government’s decision to re-introduce public holidays falling on a weekend, starting with the addition of one day of vacation leave. “We are in discussion with Government regarding the issue, and I believe that the fact that only one day of leave was given is a good sign that we’re moving in the right direction. All employer bodies are united and negotiating a common front with Government – we have made our proposals and if they are accepted, I believe this will have a neutral effect on businesses,” he says, going on to point out, “we are not disputing the fact that Government has the right to deliver on an electoral promise.” During the Budget announcement, Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna affirmed that he is proud to be announcing a post-electoral Budget which is not introducing any new taxes. Does the Chamber President expect this to lead to an increase in consumer spending? “I do think there will be more consumer spending,” Mr Farrugia asserts, citing a fast-growing economy, rising tourism numbers, an increase in pensions and next year’s Valletta 2018 as factors that will all play a part. Meanwhile however, corporate tax for local businesses remains at 35 per cent following this Budget – the highest in the EU. Asked whether it might be time to lobby for a reduction, Mr Farrugia asserts that lowering corporate tax is indeed on the Chamber’s list of proposals to Government. “With personal tax down to 25 per cent, what is happening when it comes to the self-employed or small businesses is that it pays more to increase one’s personal salary or emoluments than making a profit. On personal income, you pay 25 per cent tax, while if you leave the money in the company, you pay 35 per cent, though this weakens the business’ balance sheet,” he explains. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017


CC INTERVIEW Still, the Chamber President goes on to warn, lowering taxes must be handled with care, particularly with Malta’s overall tax regime currently being under an international microscope. “We understand that Government needs to be cautious with introducing new measures – at the moment, all eyes are on Malta in relation to tax regimes,” he says. Moving on to human resources, business owners and members of industry continue to claim that they struggle to find adequate resources on the island – an issue which was not tackled in the Budget. Agreeing that this is an issue of concern, Mr Farrugia makes reference to a recent survey carried out by the Malta Chamber, which found that its members can employ between 3,000 and 3,500 more people within the next 12-15 months. “The problem is where to find them,” he maintains, adding that while Government has not dealt with this issue directly within the Budget, various measures are currently underway. Revealing several plans in the pipeline, he continues, “foreign workers who have a residence permit and


are registered with ETC are going to be allowed to work an additional part-time job, provided that they register with Jobsplus. This will lead to a number of the current vacancies being filled. Jobsplus will also be responsible for bringing employees to Malta from countries in the European Union and beyond.” With the property market being so buoyant, the Chamber President comments on claims that further measures to boost the sector, such as the extension of the reduced stamp duty scheme, can lead to overheating in the sector, asserting that he does not believe this to be the case. Pointing to Government’s assertion that GDP is expected to remain around the five per cent mark for the coming three or four years, Mr Farrugia also refers to the amount of foreign labour coming in as having an impact. “Foreign workers coming to Malta need places to live, so in general I don’t think there will be a problem. The economy is doing well, and as businessmen we need to make the most of the good situation, and use our heads to try to extend it,” he says.

“I believe there will be more consumer spending moving forward.”



“The economy is doing well, and as businessmen we need to make the most of the good situation, and use our heads to try to extend it.”


Meanwhile, reacting to criticism that Budget 2018 may lack creativity in tapping into new industries, Mr Farrugia believes that this is not the case. “I represent the Chamber on Boards like Malta Enterprise, Jobsplus, Trade Malta, MCESD and the Employment Relations Board, and through these, the various teams are tasked with

looking for other types and lines of business to attract to Malta,” he maintains, lamenting that the problem is what it always has been – size. “We can’t grow as much as we like, particularly within certain industries which require more land, as land is restricted. In general, however, I believe that we are on the right track. If you take aviation for example, we started with Lufthansa Technik, and while I can’t give details for the time being, others are following suit. In currency, we had De La Rue and now Crane Currency, and others that are in the pipeline as well,” he says. Another issue that was not addressed within the Budget is the use of diesel. With several countries pledging to eliminate diesel cars, I ask, does the Chamber President feel that Government could be missing an opportunity to start tackling the issue? “I believe that Government is tackling it indirectly, through the introduction of nonpayment of registration on electric cars and hybrid cars. While diesel was not specifically mentioned, the production of diesel cars will soon cease globally, so automatically, the number will decline locally,” he maintains, adding, “what I feel the Government has to tackle is the importation of second-hand cars into Malta. We cannot be a cemetery for second-hand cars which have been scrapped in other countries. We should take this seriously and control what is coming in. Free movement of goods shouldn’t mean that all the scrap comes here.” Finally, on the subject of cars and our roads, there were few direct measures dealing with the traffic situation within the Budget, including a new authority responsible for road infrastructure. Reacting to this, Mr Farrugia maintains that the traffic congestion problem is a reality and a nightmare both for motorists and business people, as well as for Government. “As operators within the business sector, having sales people and drivers getting stuck in traffic means that they will see less clients every day, which limits our services. This is something which we must take seriously and solve. Government has introduced a scheme whereby school transport will be free – I believe this will help. However, Government must also make sure that the operators are giving a full and safe service, as this will encourage more parents to send their children on school transport. I also think we need to encourage further use of public transport for straightforward journeys,” he concludes. cc



Running a tight ship The shipping industry in Malta is experiencing a surge in demand and significantly increased activity. The Commercial Courier speaks to key players in the industry to find out what’s causing the uptick and how this successful sector can be encouraged and sustained.

David Abela, Managing Director, EuroBridge “EuroBridge has been in business since 1995 but it has truly started to leave its mark on the local and international market over the last three years or so, when we changed our way of doing things – this change turned us into what we are today! We offer a 360-degree service where it concerns shipping and logistics; however our main business is groupage cargo to and from Europe. I can say that we are probably the best there is with regard to this service.”

Do you feel like there’s been a surge in demand within the shipping industry? What has this been caused by? “When I speak with my fellow trailer operators, the feeling is that there has truly been a surge in demand. I am sure that this increase has been caused mainly by the current favourable local economic situation which nobody can deny. Malta imports everything so even a small increase in tourism means more imports as will increased customer optimism in the future.” What investments has EuroBridge made to ensure it keeps up with this demand? “It would be easier to answer a question on what investments we did not make! We are continually investing in new trailers, adding new people to our team and training our existing team. At the same time, we will soon be moving into a new and bigger state-ofthe-art office, whilst making improvements to our warehouse in Hal Far. Finally, we are also currently developing a new custom-made automated system to make us even more efficient than ever before.”


What are the factors that will ensure that demand for shipping services remains strong in the long-term? “It is difficult to see a future where the demand for shipping services decreases. Internationally, there are studies which clearly show that the demand for shipping will continue increasing in an astonishing way over the next 30 odd years and I cannot see Malta being different from the rest of the world. In fact, I feel Malta still lags behind with regard to logistics and shipping infrastructure. Sure, we have the Freeport but besides that there is still a lot that can be done. We already have our location, which is fantastic – we’re wedged between three continents! All we need is a little push and this sector will bloom.” What’s in the pipeline for EuroBridge? “The future can only be bright for EuroBridge. There is a fantastic and young team of people here who are truly in-sync in their ambition to do great things. The management is also always on the look-out for new talent and new and improved ways to do things that will help us grow. Besides all the steps mentioned above, as soon as we move into the new office, look out for new developments!” 25


Peter Sullivan, Director, Mediterranean Trading Shipping “Strategically located within the Grand Harbour, Mediterranean Trading Shipping Co. Ltd boasts a rich history dating back to its inception in 1946, a subsidiary of F. E. Sullivan & Co Ltd founded in 1860 as a ship chandling company. From the very beginning, the company proved to be innovative in the local sphere. In 1947, run by my late father, Eric Sullivan, a veteran in the marine world, the company hoisted the Maltese maritime flag for the first time. The family-run business took the company to new heights with each passing generation. In more recent years, services such as manning, crewing, logistic management, forwarding agents, transhipment services, bunker brokerage, offshore services, warehousing facilities, services to the oilfield industry, cruise liner agents and hospitality have been added to our portfolio. Today I am confident to say that the company has built a fine reputation and sound connections among the world-leading maritime companies and the shipping industry.” Do you feel like there’s a surge in demand within the shipping industry? What has this been caused by? “Shipping is a dynamic industry, always evolving, yet challenging. It is a nevershrinking market and it is said to be the

largest service industry. Various aspects contribute to this, primarily the increase in volume in the movement of cargo. There has also been an increase in cruise liners and super yachts, which at one time were associated with high-profile people; today, the increase in global wealth has led to a surge in this industry. Obviously, the increase in the movement of vessels results in a surge in bunkering demands. It is a fact that our island also benefits from the turmoil of neighbouring countries as well as from EU regulations which prohibit tankers over 20 years old from entering European ports.” What investments has Mediterranean Trading Shipping made to ensure it keeps up with these demands? “We hold years of experience in this field and apart from taking stock of the current requirements, we always keep a watchful eye for the next opportunity, delivering an idea to completion. The company is always regenerating its IT system, investing and upgrading its equipment and storage facilities to cater for the current needs. A dedicated and experienced team of personnel, equipped with maritime knowledge and continual training ensures high standards in the operation. We have also engaged stakeholders overseas to identify new business, thus broadening our portfolio.”

What are the factors that will ensure that demand for shipping services remains strong in the long-term? “The world economy influences the demand in shipping, sometimes making it volatile. However, globally, industries are continuously growing, creating a demand in dry-bulk and containerised cargo. In my opinion what is crucial for long-term demand is the opening of borders and of the market to foreign investment and trade, as this increases the flow of shipping. Shipping carries more than 90 per cent of physical world trade and will do so for the foreseeable future. Personally, I believe shipping will continue to flourish.”

Joe Gerada, Managing Director, Thomas Smith Group “Thomas Smith is one of the oldest established shipping agencies in Malta and one of very few that are involved in all modes of transport. Thomas Smith has always represented worldleading companies and the main one we represent today is Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company and one of the larger users of Malta Freeport. We as a company have always held high values and are known to be a company of high integrity and reliability. We focus on developing long-term relationships with principals, clients and our own workforce.”

Do you feel like there’s been a surge in demand within the shipping industry? What has this been caused by? “Yes, I would say that during these last years there has been a surge in demand, but one that has also been accompanied by a surge in supply, which has had a downward effect on freight rates. We are faced many times with rates that do not justify the effort involved in giving a proper service. This surge in demand is definitely the result of a growing population in Malta, the increase in the number of visitors to Malta, the resident expats working

here and the higher level of consumption and construction associated with that.” What investments has Thomas Smith made to ensure it keeps up with this demand? “In a company like ours, investments made are in people, systems, and international networks which can help us maintain a high level of service also at destination.” What are the factors that will ensure that demand for shipping services remains strong in the long-term? “As long as we are an island and we keep on consuming products, a demand for shipping services will follow. That is what the local market will require. Beyond that, we can keep on developing Malta‘s role as a hub, which is already happening successfully. There is enough enthusiasm for it to be sustained and developed.” What’s in the pipeline for Thomas Smith? “Constant improvement and fine-tuning of what we do.”




Jimmy Cutajar, Managing Director, Global Freight Solutions “Global Freight Solutions is an emerging logistics company with knowledgeable personnel who have long years of expertise within the logistical services sector. Together with our partners and alliances, we are able to offer a wide spectrum of logistics solutions to an extremely demanding and evolving industry. Our services cover freight movements by air, sea, rail, and to/from Malta, international movements/crosstrade, European intra-community operations, project cargo, vessel chartering and so much more in the logistics field. GFS offers its customers an effective and efficient service, together with a personalised touch that breathes confidence and security in the products offered. We pride ourselves in being able to offer our clients competitive pricing and more importantly, service that goes beyond our customers’ expectations. Our achievements are being recognised not only by our clients but also by the industry since we have been recently awarded ‘Best Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year 2017’.”

is all a ripple effect from the strong growth in the local economy. The more spending power people have, the more commodities are turned around quickly, resulting in higher sales. It is therefore a positive ripple effect as it transcends along the supply chain, consumer, and obviously, logistical demand respectively.”

Do you feel like there’s been a surge in demand within the shipping industry? What has this been caused by? “Definitely! We have seen an increase in our clientele and their marked growth is reflecting in the amount of goods being imported and exported. I believe that this

What are the factors that will ensure that demand for shipping services remains strong in the long-term? “This is a very hard shell to crack since the sector we work in is very much demanddriven. The company has made all the investments necessary to ensure a good,

What investments has Global Freight Solutions made to ensure it keeps up with this demand? “Constant growth and demand have driven us to continually invest in our infrastructure. We have invested in one of the latest designed software applications and we equipped our offices and warehouses with new hardware, thus ensuring that the company is well geared up for the surge in demand and ensuring continuity in our activity. Having said that, I still believe that the biggest achievement was to be successfully accredited with the ISO9001:2015 certification.”

strong and reliable internal set-up, welltrained employees, and fixed agreements with reliable and carefully-selected partners to ensure the best service we can offer to our esteemed clientele. Our sector develops according to market requirements. However, I believe that it all depends on the well-being of the economy. A strong economy creates a strong demand in logistics, however we also have to note that the manufacturing industry in Malta has not reported any significant growth in the past years. The deficit between import and export is growing bigger every year, as the latest statistics show.”

Matthew Sullivan, Director, J.B. Sorotto “J.B. Sorotto Ltd offers a wide spectrum of services to shipping companies, from port agency to ship registration. Our company’s history spans for over 100 years, and we were among the pioneers that saw the potential in the Maltese shipping registry during the 1980s and started promoting the Maltese flag with our many clients, with a focus on the Greek market where the Sorotos family originated. Today, we provide our clients with strong maritime competences including corporate and financial services among others, delivered by maritime experts.”

Do you feel like there’s been a surge in demand within the shipping industry? What has this been caused by? “It is hard to single out the key driver of the success of the shipping industry in Malta, as like many other industries, this was brought about by a combination of many factors. In fact, Malta’s geographic location is a key factor for the success of the shipping industry, as are the services we offer, including the port facilities, the operators, the authorities, as well as the legal and fiscal structures regulating the maritime industry. These all need to be of the highest standard and ready to take any opportunities that might arise, and hence the requirement of being available at the right time.” What investments has J.B. Sorotto made to ensure it keeps up with this demand? “Our business is primarily a people’s business where the level of service is dependent on the competences and commitment of our people and the trust that our customers can place in our ability to address their requirements. Our investment is thus towards our people and providing them with the right tools, including


IT systems and competences that can ensure that they can meet the service requirements.” What are the factors that will ensure that demand for shipping services remains strong in the long-term? “The challenge for the industry will be the large continued investment and improvement in the port facilities, which often require substantial levels of investment. In recent years the industry has also started to face larger constraints coming from the scarcity of land and environmental requirements around our urban ports. Another important factor is the need to continually innovate our legal and fiscal structures to support further interest in the services that Malta offers. However, I am sure the industry, together with the authorities and Government, will manage.” What’s in the pipeline for J.B. Sorotto? “We have recently employed a new General Manager with vast experience in the Greek shipping market. We are very excited to start working with Seraphim Tsoutsos, who we believe will continue to strengthen our team and the services we offer.” 29


Ernest Sullivan, CEO, Sullivan Maritime “Sullivan Maritime Ltd offers a highly specialised transport service that is vital to the Maltese industry and the consumer. We represent Grimaldi Group in Naples that runs a fixed day, fixed time, four times weekly RORO service between Malta and Catania, Salerno and Genova, with further connectivity to several Italian ports and other intra and extra Mediterranean destinations. Grimaldi also holds a public service commission (PSC) with the Government of Malta, ensuring that these services run uninterrupted even during inclement weather, and carrying vital products such as gases required for medical interventions and other similar products. Furthermore, we represent various other shipping lines specialising in the carriage of RORO cargo.” Do you feel like there’s been a surge in demand within the shipping industry? What has this been caused by? “There is a growing number of foreigners who are working in Malta and with more people living on the island, there is more demand for all requirements. In addition, in view of the good standard of living being enjoyed at this time, people have more spending power, so overall consumption increases. Everything has to be imported, so the demand for shipping services has increased. Moreover, local projects, both

governmental and private such as the Kappara flyover project and hangars for the aircraft industry which we have handled recently, are welcome peaks for the shipping industry.” What investments has Sullivan Maritime made to ensure it keeps up with this demand? “We invest in our principals, in our clients and in our staff. Together we discuss and consult on the current demands, but also, most importantly, on predicting immediate future developments, fine-tuning our current services to better serve the industry, as well as proposing new routes and connections to offer better opportunities that can be tapped and developed. Furthermore, we are strong believers in technology. We consider ourselves to be leaders in this area of IT that is specialised for the shipping industry and we invest heavily in the latest systems and commission our own applications to ensure that we are at the forefront. The backbone of our investment is our staff complement. We employ longstanding staff members, who have a wealth of experience in vessel, port and cargo operations; they are backed with the energy and aptitude of dedicated young staff members. This winning team is led by the second generation of Sullivans, Nigel and Karl.”

What are the factors that will ensure that demand for shipping services remains strong in the long-term? “The demand for shipping services depends directly on the key development projects and the consumption of all goods. As long as the economy continues to develop positively, it will have the same effect on the need for shipping services.” What’s in the pipeline for Sullivan Maritime? “Continuous improvement. We strive to improve what we do, for the benefit of our principals and clients alike, simply out of the pride in our industry and our work. The future is bright, our next generation leaders and our staff are hyped up, ready to meet the challenges.”

Mario Ciantar, Managing Director, White Brothers “White Brothers Ltd provides a number of services related to the transport community. The family business owes its name to its first truck, an American-built ‘White’ Model 704, bought in the 1940s. This earned Angelo Ciantar, the founder of the company, the nickname ‘Tal-White’, by which the business is still popularly known. Since then the company has constantly developed and broadened its area of operations, and increased its diversified fleet of vehicles. Its core activities are related to the clearance, handling and delivery of cargo, and are complemented by heavy lift/machinery removals and project cargoes. Ocean and air freight forwarding are offered through its subsidiary White Freight Services Ltd. The company is also sub-contracted by port terminal operators to provide cargo operations on roro vessels and other activities related to cargo operations within the port area.” Do you think there’s been a surge in demand within the shipping industry? What has this been caused by? “Being an island, shipping is the lifeline of 30

the economy. New operations set up in Malta and Gozo have a direct effect on the demand for growth in almost every sector, and the shipping industry is no exception. Foreign and local investors and industry alike need goods, materials and equipment shipped in and this is where we excel. By keeping our part of the deal we make it easier for our customers to start and continue their operations.” What are the factors that will ensure that demand for shipping services remains strong in the long-term? “We’ve seen lean years and great years. This has taught us to only focus on what matters most: meeting customer needs effectively and efficiently no matter what the situation on the ground is. In the long term keeping the economy attractive and getting more investment in the country is the key to continued and sustainable growth. The road projects which are coming online are helping, but until all the dust clears out, all our logistics people do their part as well by co-ordinating with all our clients to ensure smooth deliveries at all times.”

What investments has White Brothers made to ensure it keeps up with this demand? “Our investments have and are always focused to serve our customers better, increasing flexibility in our offerings to meet new demands and operational effectiveness at all levels of the company. To this effect we’re constantly upgrading our fleet by investing in new equipment as well as increasing our staff complement to assist customers with their day-to-day operations.”



Miriam Camilleri, Managing Owner, MCConsult “MCConsult is a boutique firm offering a wide range of professional services within the maritime industry and corporate framework since 2001. The purpose and mission of MCConsult is to provide comprehensive administrative, legal, representation and technical services related, in particular, to ship, company, mortgage and crew registration, and certification under Maltese law and, where possible, other jurisdictions. The organisation serves as a dynamic liaison between the client and the administration, and other service providers. We aim to provide a timely, expeditious, personal and friendly one-stop service, meeting deadlines daily, satisfying and, where possible, exceeding clients’ requirements. Shipping is a highly personal business where relatively easy access to the decision-makers is imperative. This is consonant with the philosophy and practice at MCConsult.”

the yachting industry to advise and work hand in hand with the Maltese administration has led to the results we see today. The high level of service remains an important contributor to the rise in number and tonnage that has made the Maltese commercial yacht register the largest in Europe.” What are the factors that will ensure that demand for yachting and ship registration services remains strong in the long-term? “Flexibility and immediate response to our international clientele, the favourable, legal and fiscal regime, and the support of Government play an integral part in maintaining our strength in this very competitive market. Malta must also continue to provide a consistent level of service across the industry.”

What investments has MC Consult made to ensure it keeps up with this demand? Do you feel like there’s been a surge in “MCConsult’s investments lie in having a demand within the yachting industry? What professional team of well-trained employees has this been caused by? working together and keeping abreast of what “A favourable fiscal regime, a commercial the demands of the industry and the needs of yacht code that provides the right technical our clients are. MCConsult takes pride in what it requirements that are easy to adopt and has achieved over these years, as a result of the apply, and a professional service industry that quality of service provided, attention to detail, constantly endeavours to remain at grips with constant interaction and keeping updated with

all that is happening in the financial, corporate and maritime clusters. Honesty, trust and a healthy relationship with our clients makes us who we are today. This is what has rendered MCConsult a key player in the maritime and corporate services industry.” What’s in the pipeline for MC Consult? “Consolidation, sustainability and consistency of professional service remain at the top of our priorities. MCConsult aims to expand its legal services department further, in time developing as a maritime law firm complementing our professional and long-standing reputation as a maritime consultancy service provider. This will further strengthen and enhance our worldwide reputation in the international service industry. We shall never lose sight of our prime objective to ensure a sterling service to our clients.” cc


Express Trailers consolidates its managed warehousing operations with new investment in 2,800sqm warehouse “As space increasingly becomes a very valuable asset, companies should look into how to utilise it more productively. No one likes a dormant asset that should be yielding more return on investment,” says Franco Azzopardi. Here, the Chairman and CEO of Express Trailers talks about the company’s next important move – a concrete step that cements Express Trailers’ name in the managed warehousing sector.

What led Express Trailers to managed warehousing? “We are living in a world where the dynamics of selling and purchasing have changed. There’s more agility and smaller cargo coming in more quickly, because logistics have become more efficient. You need a scalable storage solution. Margins for merchants are becoming ever tighter, so we are offering a solution where the merchant can avail himself of the space he needs without ever having idle space and human resources, therefore cutting significant costs – especially when stored stocks are at their lowest. “We cannot however be talking to our current and prospective clients, and telling them how to maximise space if we don’t do it ourselves first. So we are doing just this; consolidating our available space by centralising our managed warehousing service under one roof, simply to be able to offer a better and more efficient service. Our current warehouses located opposite our Head Office will be moved to this new 2,800sqm warehouse in Qormi, leaving us with more space that will be utilised better to gain better efficiency.” 34

Is this concrete move towards managed warehousing linked to the concept of hubbing? “Indeed, locally there has been talk about hubbing and centralisation of resources for a long time, and Express Trailers always saw a lot of potential and growth in this area. In fact, we actually entered this sector when we started offering managed warehousing for the pharmaceutical sector – by far the most regulated form of warehousing which requires the highest degree of discipline. We did this in 2012, when we set up our first two pharma warehouses both in line with EU Pharma GDP standards and licensed by the medical authorities. We can say that pharma warehousing helped us set our standards at the highest level from the very start. Therefore, we have already invested a lot in our managed warehousing service by acquiring the experience, the know-how and the set-up to offer this very intricate solution.” So managed warehousing was a natural progression? “Yes. In Malta we are seeing a growing interest in this sector, especially due to

the fact that such operations are not only becoming increasingly specialised but also very costly to run. In fact, I look at it as a payas-you-use system, which is very different from the current popular model where most companies own their ancillary warehouse, given that tying down a full warehouse for fluctuating stocks is a heavy cost. “Through managed warehousing, we are bringing a culture change in the way companies look at their property. I acknowledge that many company owners have for years walked proudly within their warehouse, looking at it, possibly, as their most tangible measure of success. So I understand how their sense of ‘success’ might be challenged as they ‘let go’ of the management of this asset, but once they realise the commercial advantage of our managed warehousing proposition, it will be a different story altogether.” And what are these advantages? “First and foremost, there are the savings involved. There’s no mathematical formula of how much a company can save, but when one considers the amount of ‘dead times’ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

CC LOGISTICS when the warehouse is not working for you, it’s all wasted time. And when time and space are money, it means you are wasting money too. One may easily think of managed warehousing along the same concept of a hotel, where a company parks its goods for the time it needs them stored until it has them delivered to its customers or re-shipped abroad. There is a fixed rate per cubic metre per night which is applied, and you pay as you use. When you take into consideration that your goods remain completely yours as merchants and the store-keeping function is upgraded by engaging specialists to do it for you, that’s already a huge advantage. “Then there is the logistics aspect. You will not need employees to manage your warehouse and to handle your stock. You will not need to invest in racking, security, pest control and temperature-controlling equipment. We lend our premises, our equipment and our experienced personnel within our company so that your goods are handled professionally and stored in a safe environment. We then handle the logistics, from customs clearance, delivery to our warehouse, barcoding all items, temperature controlling them, import export procedures, picking, packing and outbound distribution. All this can only mean one thing: we do all the above while your company can concentrate on sales marketing, thus maximising its investment and its core operations.”

and storage. Besides pharmaceuticals, we handle industrial cargo, fashion and retail, food and beverage, chemicals, waste products, personal goods, white goods and fragile or hazardous cargo.” What role does IT have in managed warehousing? “Managed warehousing goes beyond having available space for storage but entails having the right IT platform supporting the day-to-day management of stock, taking orders, delivering these orders to customers and keeping track of replenishing stock. Our IT system is a proprietary system in which we have co-invested with the IT company that designed it to take it to the next level and market it internationally to other operators. We have been using our Warehouse Management System since 2011. During this period, the platform has been modified to cater for different types of commodities by including permutations to cater for pharmaceuticals, brown goods, white goods, manufacturing goods and more. Since different commodities require different handling, we had to modify the system to cater for such requirements. Consequently, our warehouses are structured accordingly to store such items. “The system has a plan of each warehouse to quantify the volume or items in each location. When cargo is received, tallied and stocked, items are bar-coded on location.

At present, clients can send us a CSV file with the cargo destined to our warehouse, in order to prepare the related documentation for the warehouse coordinator to administer. Pick orders can also be sent by the client in CSV format to include the number of items required, respective stock code, segregated according to each driver or vehicle. The improved system is planned to cater for online data interface. Due to the fact that in the last few years we enhanced the system, we believe that we can rewrite and present a good module in the market.” Warehousing not Ownership “One of the most important qualities of our managed warehousing proposition is that at no point in time do we take ownership of the cargo or products that we are handling. This is a crucial aspect that businesses need to keep in mind. The strength of our business offering lies in bringing more value to our business customers, where they do away with the management, the space, and the personnel to manage the handling of their storage. From our end, we count our professional and experienced workforce as our success factor. They support and provide the whole aspect of the logistics and cargo, customs clearance and advice on risk management, driving the company and its business partners to more success and growth.” cc T: 2558 9330; E:

You frequently refer to the idea of ‘managing risk’. Can we assume that Express Trailers is well poised to handle this sensitive aspect? “The benefits of managed warehousing far outweigh the risks. However, managing a warehouse and the distribution of goods also means having to deal with the risks involved, and these should be a very important consideration. We believe that we can mitigate all the risks more than the client thinks he can mitigate them. And knowing that these risks are being handled by a company like Express Trailers that is appropriately equipped to handle and manage the risk involved, is one of our strongest competitive advantages. “In fact, when it comes to logistics, it is not only about how big your fleet of trailers is or how many people you employ, it’s also about having the experience and what it takes to manage all the risks involved. We have worked hard to become specialists in logistics and transportation of any cargo, no matter how delicate, fragile and large it is. And we continue to work hard to retain the professional way we manage the risk involved in this field. This is what makes Express Trailers the most trusted provider of any company’s total logistics solutions. “Our open storage warehouses are equipped to store anything thanks to our racking system and other modes of stacking OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017



IN Figures

Valletta 2018


the number of local and international artists, curators, collectives, performers, and filmmakers involved with the Valletta 2018 Foundation’s cultural programme.

€11 Million

the amount in public funds spent on projects related to Valletta 2018 over the course of four years, including infrastructural upgrades to the capital city.

€1.5 Million

the total value of other ongoing and incoming Valletta beautification projects, including MUZA, the Grand Master’s Palace and Manoel Theatre. More than €17 million of these funds come from the EU.



the number of events and projects taking place in Valletta throughout the European Capital of Culture year. A total of 140 projects and 400 events will be taking place nationwide.


the sum donated by Broadway producer and Valletta homeowner Cameron Mackintosh to the restoration appeal set up to save St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral, whose spire and stonework – which form an integral part of Valletta’s iconic skyline – have deteriorated dramatically.


the year Valletta has set as its target to become a zero-carbon city.


the sum to be invested in a regeneration project for lower Valletta, including the Auberge D’Aragon, several housing estates and the promenade, as well as the waterpolo pitch.


Source: Gozo In Figures, National Statistics Office, Malta


the number of people expected to attend the opening ceremony of Valletta 2018 on 20th January.

the Melina Mercouri prize awarded to Valletta 2018 in view of its strong European dimension and citizens’ involvement, through its education and capacity-building programmes.

€19 Million


the year the European Capital of Culture title will return to Malta; Birgu has already been earmarked as a potential city.

the increase in tourism expected during Valletta’s term as European Capital of Culture. Source: Malta International Airport OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017



A winning alliance RE/MAX Alliance is one of RE/MAX Malta’s most successful partnerships. Here, franchisees Michael Bonello and Gordon Valentino talk Jo Caruana through their milestones, accomplishments and plans for the future.




“The levels of confidence and competence we have achieved take a lot of hard work to build.”


ome businesses are catapulted on a trajectory of success. And, when Michael Bonello – the franchisee behind RE/MAX Malta’s RE/MAX Alliance started his business in 2006, that’s exactly what happened. Today, the company’s humble beginnings are hard to imagine. Michael began operating from an office situated on the Tigné seafront, with a team of just eight agents. It grew quickly and, now, RE/MAX Alliance has no less than 150 agents and 15 managers, spread over seven offices situated in Tigné - Sliema, San Gwann, The Strand – Gzira, Mosta, St Julian’s, Swieqi and, most recently, Pietà Seafront. “Today we’re proud to have a great group of managers, assistant managers and cofranchise owners out there,” Michael says. In 2010, Michael partnered up with co-franchise owner Gordon Valentino and proudly confirms that he hasn’t looked back since. “Our main focus is ‘quality’ – to offer an unparalleled service, thus, bringing together the island’s most experienced agents. In the past years there have also been many important milestones – not least the fact that RE/MAX Alliance has won the award for the most sales by volume for the last 11 years across the RE/MAX Malta network, whilst one of its letting agents, namely Jeff Debattista, won the ‘Top Agent for Transactions Award’ in Europe for the past two consecutive years. “We mark our milestones in success, such as the opening of new offices and setting up successful teams,” says Gordon. “The key to the process is finding the right location, notwithstanding the ideal manager backed up by a strong administrative and sales team to make the office flourish. Recently, RE/MAX Alliance marked another first, with the introduction of its own fullyfledged marketing department. By December, it will also introduce its own training academy, to ensure that all members 42

of the RE/MAX Alliance team are trained to the highest specifications prior to joining the sector. “They will have enough knowledge about the market before actually stepping into it,” Michael says, “ensuring that each and every one of our agents has the confidence and know-how to conclude a sale from day one.” Both franchisees agree that it’s this level of service that has helped secure their success. “We don’t leave anything to chance since much of what we have achieved is linked to our positive reputation. For instance, we take pride in the fact that we have consistently achieved the highest number of Auction and Exclusive listings across RE/MAX Malta, further confirming that our clients are willing to trust us exclusively with their properties. That level of confidence and competence is something that takes a lot of hard work to build.” However, that doesn’t mean to say that the market is free from challenges. On the contrary, both Michael and Gordon stress that there is a shortage of property in the lower realms of the market. “Second-time buyers, as well as property investors, remain somewhat spoilt for choice, whilst it’s harder for the firsttime buyer,” Michael says. “In the past couple of years, the industry has clearly shifted from a buyers’ to a sellers’ market, particularly in certain locations such as Sliema, Gzira and Msida, where the demand far outweighs supply. Nowadays, a minimum of 70 per cent of the properties in these areas are being sold on plan.” Both franchisees also believe in the future of Malta’s high-rise developments, as well as the need for land reclamation. “We’re behind both,” he says, stressing the importance of careful planning in the process, such as properties being launched at different stages so as not to flood the market. Both

Government as well as the developers need to come together to find a winning formula that will work effectively, providing a strong way forward.” Having said that, they also believe in the strength of the industry for the years to come. “Whilst the momentum may not continue at the same pace as seen in the past years, we are confident that it will continue. Thanks to the size of the island, there will remain a strong supply and demand,” Michael says. Thus, RE/MAX Alliance will keep differentiating itself by resolutely focusing on its mission, that of helping every client that comes through its doors. “Regardless of which Alliance office you visit, you can be assured of dedicated service – irrespective of the property, be it a garage or a sprawling villa by the sea; there are no grey areas with us.” Both Michael and Gordon emphasised their pride in being part of the RE/MAX Malta franchise, and would like to take this opportunity to publically thank both Jeff and Kevin Buttigieg. “Agents coming from other agencies only realise what being part of RE/MAX brings to the table once they join. RE/MAX holds the largest database on the island, giving each agent the opportunity to maximise their clients’ requests due to the full team of 400 agents that RE/MAX Malta has located all around the island,” Gordon continues. “Whenever we work with foreign clients, it is underlined just how well-known and respected RE/MAX is internationally, because the client immediately feels secure and comfortable knowing they are working with a reliable and well-known franchise. This is so important, and definitely what sets RE/MAX steps ahead. “Of course, we are eager to keep doing our best for the franchise as a whole and to keep raising the RE/MAX balloon high above our competition,” Michael and Gordon added. cc OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017


Currency matters As Crane Currency – the fastest growing global currency player in the world – gets ready to open a facility in Malta, Jo Caruana speaks to CEO Stephen DeFalco about his hopes for this milestone move.


ave you ever thought about where our money comes from? If you’re anything like me, it will have crossed your mind but you won’t have looked into the unique industry that exists behind every banknote we hold in our hands. And it’s a fascinating one at that. One of the fastest and largest global players in the currency market is Crane Currency – a company that recently laid down roots in Malta and which will soon open a new banknote production and customer experience centre on the island. Interestingly, the United States and Swedish arms of Crane Currency actually have an incredible history to them, dating back to 1801 and 1755 respectively. “The US government remains a key customer of ours and has been since 1879, while the Swedish facility was part of Riksbank, the


oldest central bank in the world,” explains Crane’s CEO, Stephen DeFalco. “We are so proud of our very rich history, as well as the substantial transitions the company has made in the last 15 years.” Before 2002, Crane’s revenue was completely based in the US, along with all of its employees. Today, two-thirds of the company’s revenue comes from the international market, while almost half of its employees travel on a non-US passport. “Our growth in that time has been primarily driven by our substantial investment in the micro-optic technology that prevents counterfeiting, and our technologies are now used in 41 countries and in 105 denominations,” Mr DeFalco continues. “There’s no doubt that it is this anti-counterfeit technology that is the prime driver behind our growth, as it’s the only OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017


“The centre in Malta will be the industry’s most modern and hightech banknote printing facility anywhere in the world.”

“Our technologies are now used in 41 countries and in 105 denominations.”

product like it on the market. 2017 has been a landmark year for us, with record revenue registered.” Crane’s customers are, in essence, central banks around the world and the company can only have one customer in each country. “Each customer comes to us to design and produce their currency, so each new relationship starts with a design proposal,” Mr DeFalco continues. “With that in mind, we’re focused on creating an elegant banknote that’s also secure and will work well in their economy.” And that’s more complex than it sounds – for instance, all banknotes need to be machine-readable, must work in ATMs and must be copy-proof. Interestingly, today’s banknote will have around 15 layers to it and will be extremely complex in its makeup. “How complex exactly depends on the OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

market the currency will be used in, as they differ substantially. After all, some will be used by some of the most sophisticated markets in the world, like the US, the UK and the eurozone, while others will be used by countries whose economies are in earlier stages of development. The fun part of the job is that you get to work on both!” Mr DeFalco says. One of the most recent currency projects that Crane worked on was for the Swedish Central Bank. The SCB decided to replace their old banknotes because the notes’ security level needed to be raised, thus helping the country to stay ahead of a potential counterfeiting problem. Both the design team at Crane Currency and other experts were involved at an early stage, ensuring that the specification of requirements would be right from the outset. As a result, a total of six new banknote designs were launched in Sweden in 2016. And among the many aspects that they focused on when creating the notes, Crane highlights ethical business practice. “It has always been our policy to conduct our business in keeping with the highest moral, legal and ethical standards,” Mr DeFalco says. “In fact, we’re a founding member of the Banknote Ethics Initiative (BnEI), which focuses on the prevention of corruption and on compliance with anti-trust laws within the banknote industry.” And the company will be injecting that approach into their work in Malta, which

is already underway. “We are so excited about our new centre on the island and so looking forward to having it up and running. We found Malta to be very welcoming, with an educated and hard-working workforce, some of which already has the very specific expertise that we are looking for. “Beyond that, Malta has a very businessfriendly political environment, and we felt comfortable making a long-term investment in the country. The logistics are also positive, especially as our client-base is growing into the Middle East and Africa, so Malta perfectly positions us between Africa and the EU.” The centre itself will have two roles – primarily it will be the industry’s most modern and high-tech banknote printing facility anywhere in the world, and, beyond that, it will be a customer experience centre where Crane can work collaboratively with its central bank clients to design new banknotes. “We’re proud that there is nothing like it in the industry and look forward to opening the factory in the first quarter of 2018, followed by the customer centre in August.” As for Crane’s future focus, Mr DeFalco stresses that the company will be concentrating on bringing further innovation to their central bank customers, while crafting technology that will make currency easy-touse but impossible to counterfeit. “At this stage in our history, we couldn’t be happier about our investment in Malta and we look forward to having the Malta team join our global team. This is an enthusiastic time for Crane,” he concludes. cc 45


Buying tomorrow’s property at today’s prices: The Shoreline’s Phase I sold out A new landmark is set to be created at SmartCity in Kalkara. The Shoreline will offer sophisticated living with more than 500 shoreline residences, all enjoying spectacular views, landscaped open spaces, and an assortment of community amenities, and, as Ricasoli Properties Ltd Chairman Ben Muscat confirms, they are selling fast.


en Muscat, Chairman of Ricasoli Properties Ltd – a privately-funded entity developing the €200 million Shoreline project – maintains, “as per our launch programme, Phase I of The Shoreline high-quality residential project is sold out. We are now already receiving enquiries regarding Phase II, and have accepted bookings for apartments within this phase.” The Shoreline is a mixed-use development that is already synonymous with a serene lifestyle in this emerging part of Malta, close to Valletta, the Three Cities and the airport. Its corporate identity is inspired by the waves that will cradle its doorstep, while reflecting the vision of The Shoreline, where residences are set to benefit from their proximity to the sea in a totally car-free, pedestrianised environment. In this new urban environment, residents and retail tenants can enjoy the convergence of four elements that define 46

modern mixed-use developments: live, work, play and shop. The Shoreline will offer sophisticated living and an assortment of community amenities, all within easy walking distance. For residents who will be working in the substantial office developments existing and planned within SmartCity, there is an added bonus: they can be home for lunch! Mr Muscat explains that SmartCity enjoys a Specially Designated Area (SDA) status, and therefore, offers significant potential for foreign investors who may be interested in concurrently owning a number of apartments at The Shoreline. Mr Muscat further explains that increasingly, Maltese

and foreign property investors are becoming aware of The Shoreline project, in fact, he affirms that the sales and marketing team is receiving enquiries on the project on a daily basis. “A great location, a high-quality vision for the project, and the professionalism shown by the project promoters, coupled with Malta’s buoyant economy, have resulted in The Shoreline generating very positive ratings by leading local and foreign real estate agencies, and has captured the imagination of property investors who are seeing a great upside potential for their investment in residences at The Shoreline,” he says.

“SmartCity enjoys a Specially Designated Area (SDA) status and therefore offers significant potential for foreign investors who may be interested in concurrently owning a number of apartments at The Shoreline.”– Ben Muscat, Chairman, Ricasoli Properties Ltd OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017


“Investors know that these apartments will benefit from strong capital appreciation.” – Steve Carter, Managing Director, Ricasoli Properties Ltd

The Shoreline: spectacular views

Why buy property in Malta? Asked what important factors Maltese or foreigners should keep in mind when buying a property, Andrew Gatt, Sales and Marketing Manager at Ricasoli Properties Ltd advises, “look around, do your research, taking into consideration the price, the area and the opportunities it offers for future growth, and engage reputable professionals to assist including estate agents, notaries public and architects. Finally, one needs to factor the intention: why is a property being bought? Is it for a holiday home, a permanent residence, and are there any special needs?” While areas like St Julian’s, Sliema and Attard always remain attractive, Special Designated Areas (SDAs) are particularly sought-after due to the benefits for foreign buyers who may purchase multiple units under the same terms as Maltese nationals, and may rent them out, together with strong capital appreciation since only a few SDAs exist. The Shoreline apartments constitute one of them. For foreigners seeking to purchase rather than rent property in Malta, Mr Gatt advises, “buy into Malta first, try and spend time here – ideally in rental accommodation rather than in a hotel – before committing. Then try to match your lifestyle with the property: is it pet-friendly? What about outside – does it have outdoor spaces, pools, views? It’s also good to think of any future needs one may have.” OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

But what makes an apartment at The Shoreline an attractive proposition? Steve Carter, Managing Director of Ricasoli Properties Ltd, explains that with most of its residences enjoying spectacular views, beautifully-landscaped open spaces and an assortment of community amenities, The Shoreline offers apartment owners a unique and exciting experience of contemporary living in a new environment on an island that has an even brighter future. These residences propose an important and essential residential component to the current offices and other exciting developments projected at SmartCity within the next five years. “In this scenario, investors prefer to buy on plan now, as they are buying tomorrow’s property at today’s price,” Mr Carter explains. While Ricasoli Properties Ltd is doing its part in terms of offering comfortable payment plans, investors know that these apartments will benefit from strong capital appreciation because of the project’s attributes. The architectural challenge has been entrusted to EM Architects & Civil Engineers, led by architect Prof. Edwin Mintoff. Ricasoli Properties believes that EM has managed to achieve an exciting balance between massing and viewpoints by creating a building that has a large frontage facing the sea with large terraces on all levels, a podium accommodating a private landscaped area, as well as leisure facilities which include a large pool/deck area reserved for residents. The podium sits on top of a series of dining offers that surround the SmartCity Laguna, and on the top floor of the shopping mall, thus ensuring an active frontage onto the Laguna. As the appointed architects for the interior design of the residences and common areas within the residential blocks,

Carter Architectural Studio (CAS), led by architect Perit Claire Carter, is contributing its vision to create interiors that respect the contemporary aspirations of the owners and future tenants, by crafting a stylish approach that embraces the project’s surroundings externally and embodies a sleek and modernist outlook internally. For these and other reasons, including an underground car park and a shopping mall with over 30 outlets, The Shoreline is considered the best property investment in this part of Malta, which holds significant potential for capital appreciation, particularly as works on the site progress. The Shoreline is also attracting foreign buyers. Mr Carter mentions several reasons for this, including excellent connections, a stable and democratic country, a high standard of living, a highlyeducated workforce, the advantages of a Mediterranean lifestyle, as well as the eclectic mix of 6,000 years of different cultures and cuisines. Other advantages include the ease with which expatriates fit into the local lifestyle as reinforced through recent international surveys. In addition, Malta offers a great choice of properties, months-long nice weather, clean and clear bathing waters and beaches, a wide choice of residency options and friendly taxation schemes. Other attractive benefits are investment incentives, excellent healthcare and education, widely-spoken English and Italian, full employment and a booming economy punching well above its weight. cc Ricasoli Properties Limited, Suite 407, Level 4, Block SCM01, SmartCity Malta, Ricasoli. T: 2180 8895/2180 8970; E:;

Luxurious living at The Shoreline



Life after politics The privilege of serving one’s country provides both challenges and a unique outlook on life, both of which persist after one leaves the Parliamentary chair. Manuel Zarb speaks to former politicians from the Labour and the Nationalist Parties about their experiences in politics, how they’ve readjusted to day-to-day life as private citizens, and their views on salaries paid to Members of Parliament.

Former Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, Deborah Schembri, says she is nostalgic about her time in politics. “My ambition was to bring about change in people’s lives by making improvements through the legislative process, and I took my responsibilities very much to heart. I burned the midnight oil at my office in Castille on a daily basis to try and keep up with the massive demands of the job, and the two mega reforms that I was tasked with – building the structure of the Planning Authority following the MEPA demerger and the formation of the Lands Authority. I did not have the luxury of a long tenure, but one would be forgiven for thinking otherwise given what was achieved in such a short period of time.” Asked about her readjustment to being a private citizen, Dr Schembri – a lawyer by profession and legal counsel to the Planning Authority and Lands Authority – says she’s been able to adjust quickly. “I take things in my stride and never look back, except to learn from my mistakes. Readjusting is never a completely smooth process, but I took it as an opportunity to modernise my work systems, to take stock of new technologies and use them to give a better service. I do love my profession, always have, so it is not a matter of going back to it with a heavy heart. As for going back to being a private citizen, I don’t think I’ll ever know what that means again unless I have a bout of amnesia!” On the subject of MPs’ pay, Dr Schembri argues that we will never know whether ‘good’ people have been prevented from entering politics due to wage issues. “To be in politics one has to be either extremely dedicated to serving others, or utterly crazy. Both types of politicians are rarely discouraged by the fact that financially they could fare much better in the private sector. The fact that they are willing to make the sacrifice does not justify them earning an unbecoming wage. Sacrificing family time and privacy, being constantly in the limelight and in a politically polarised country like ours, constantly under attack for no rhyme or reason should be enough to ask of anyone.” As the MP who proposed changes to the time Parliament convenes, the issue is clearly one which is very close to her heart. “The proposal was gladly seconded by the OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

Deborah Schembri “I take things in my stride and never look back, except to learn from my mistakes. Readjusting is never a completely smooth process, but I took it as an opportunity to modernise my work systems, to take stock of new technologies and use them to give a better service.”

Prime Minister, but unfortunately we were greatly outnumbered when I put the idea on the table and also when I discussed it with members of the Opposition. If one has children, one never gets to see them on days when Parliament convenes unless one leaves work early, and it does take a toll on the family. Work-life balance benefits the whole family, and that cannot be achieved if one does not have enough time left to enjoy ‘life’ after work.” Asked about the possibility of introducing a full-time status for Members of Parliament, Dr Schembri says this should be open to MPs as an option rather than an obligation. “There are pros and cons in both instances,

and I believe potential candidates could be lost by imposing one system over another. Members of Parliament are required to work hard. One has to be prepared to engage in debates and discussions in plenary and committees, besides representing Government and the Opposition at international gatherings and conferences. So rather than emphasising a strictly full-time Parliament, I would rather opt for more ancillary help in the form of research analysts and secretaries for example, to aid Members of Parliament who currently have to balance between their parliamentary duties and an increasingly demanding constituency.” 49


George Pullicino Looking back on his time in politics, during which he served as Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs among other roles within successive Nationalist administrations, George Pullicino says it was a challenging but mostly satisfying time. “When you’re a Minister, all your time and all your focus are directed at your portfolio, and I’ve had extensive ones. Moreover, you have to participate in discussions on other issues at Cabinet level and of course, Parliament. There are the sleepless nights of worry when you’re looking for the right course of action, but also the satisfaction of a job well done when a project is brought to completion to the benefit of the many. Not everyone is grateful, but you learn to live with that. It is the power of your conviction that drives you on most of the time.”


“Getting back on my feet was extremely difficult. Initially I had no clients – I had to start from zero. At times it felt like I was just out of University.” The experience of readjusting to being a private citizen, however, was certainly not easy. “In my case I had been a Junior Minister for five years plus a Minister for another 10 years – 15 years in all. I had abandoned my profession in the sense that I severed all connections with my architectural office. My engagement with the profession continued, insofar as I was au courant with new regulations/policies. Getting back on my feet, however, was extremely difficult. Initially I had no clients – I had to start from zero. At times it felt like I was just out of University.” “On a personal level, there are two sides to the coin. It takes some mental adjustment to go from an extremely hectic lifestyle to a calmer one, more focused on you personally. On the other hand, you do finally get the time to do some of the things you always wanted to, including spending more time with your family!” Mr Pullicino continues by arguing that the current pay granted to Ministers and MPs is keeping people away from entering politics. “While salaries are rarely the

motivation for politicians, a reasonable remuneration could well tip the balance for people who are deeply interested. It can contribute significantly in the case of those who feel that their families would also suffer financially should they take that path.” He does not, however, have a strong opinion on whether or not to change the time Parliament convenes. “When you form part of the executive, Parliament convening in the evening is reasonable in the sense that should Parliament meet in the morning, keeping up with the volume of work becomes tough.” Mr Pullicino agrees that Members of Parliament should be full-timers, but not for the most common reasons shared by others. “Having full-time members does not diminish the possibility of conflict of interest or vested interests attempting to lobby for favour. It is integrity which does this. My leaning towards adopting a full-time Parliament stems from an appreciation of what it entails to become conversant with the issues being discussed, and the subsequent ability to contribute positively to the debate.” OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017


For Franco Mercieca, the former Parliamentary Secretary for Active Ageing and Disability Rights, his brief experience in politics was overall positive, if somewhat unexpected. “I never expected to be elected in 2013, as I had never been involved in politics before and didn’t really attend many political events. It was definitely a culture shock, as politics was very different from my practice. However, I was lucky to be in Cabinet for a year, along with chairing the Environment and Planning Committee, and I had a taste of life both in Cabinet and as a backbencher.” “I’ve met many interesting people and had new experiences through politics. As a doctor and a specialist I was somewhat cocooned from society, whilst being a politician allows you to see how society works.” Dr Mercieca, who is an ophthalmologist (a doctor who specialises in disorders related to eyes), says he decided to move back into his private practice from politics not long after joining Cabinet. “After being appointed as a Parliamentary Secretary, I realised I wasn’t cut out for the job,” he says. “I love my profession so much that I cannot live without it, so I decided that being in Cabinet wasn’t my line. Rather than finding it difficult to readjust to working at my practice after I left Parliament, I had found it difficult to adjust to being a politician.” He feels that the level of pay currently given to politicians is an important factor that needs to be addressed. “If you pay peanuts you don’t get good people, and the good people that you manage to attract will find it that much harder. Besides, having low salaries, not just for Ministers and MPs but also for the civil service, makes it easier for people who might be dishing out multimillion euro contracts to be tempted by corruption.”


Franco Mercieca “I love my profession so much that I cannot live without it, so I decided that being in Cabinet wasn’t my line. Rather than finding it difficult to readjust to working at my practice after I left Parliament, I had found it difficult to adjust to being a politician.”

Dr Mercieca believes Members of Parliament should be full-timers. “MPs should work full-time, but it’s important that they’re also well paid. Perhaps for some it is possible to cope with being in politics and reducing their hours at work, but in my case I certainly had to continue working, dedicating 80 per cent of my time to my profession,

whilst working as a politician in a part-time capacity.” “If MPs are full-timers,” he continues, “it would be a positive development for the debate in Parliament, as MPs would have more time to prepare and would be able to contribute more positively rather than simply criticise.”



“Entering politics should not be associated with the pay package, but I believe that Ministers should be given a better pay. Drawing comparisons with the private sector may be odious, but one must keep in mind that there are also many Government-appointed persons who get paid more than the Ministers themselves.”

Ċensu Galea Ċensu Galea, a Member of Parliament for 30 years, and whose most recent political roles included Deputy Speaker and Minister for Competitiveness and Communications during the 20032008 Nationalist administration, looks back on his career as something to be proud of. “I believe I served the country to the best of my ability, and despite all the political attacks levelled from time to time, there are many measures for which I was politically responsible which have resulted in important changes for our society. Among the measures I am proud of are the changes to rent laws, the liberalisation of communications and the strengthening of the maritime and aviation sectors. Overall, I feel satisfied with what I achieved.”


Mr Galea remained in Parliament up until last May, and says that on paper the process of becoming a private citizen again only started a few months ago. “To be honest, however, I have always made it a point, to myself and my family, that when I became ‘a private citizen’, I did not want to feel like I was losing something. I always tried to be around as ‘a person’, rather than as ‘a politician’. In my years as a Member of Parliament, I was always addressed by my first name by all those who met me. I liked that, and still like it today.” The professional adjustment for Mr Galea, an architect, was, however, “and still is, very difficult. Even when I was no longer Minister, I was still very much involved in the daily activities of our Parliament, and I served as Deputy Speaker between June 2010 and May 2017. Since May I have had to face the reality of having to rebuild my profession… which isn’t easy at 61 years of age.” On Ministers’ salary, he believes that it is very poor. “Entering politics should not be associated with the pay package, but I believe that Ministers should be given a better pay. Drawing comparisons with the private sector

may be odious, but one must keep in mind that there are also many Government-appointed persons (such as chairpersons, or persons of trust) who get paid more than the Ministers themselves.” Ministers, he says, should not get paid less than these appointed people; especially since when these individuals make mistakes, it is often the Minister involved who will have to carry the blame. “On the other hand, I believe that there are many other factors that keep genuine people out of politics.” Discussing the times that Parliament convenes, Mr Galea says that whilst there is nothing wrong with discussing and deciding a way forward, a more important question arises here. “The real question, I believe, is to what extent are people who get involved in politics prepared to sacrifice themselves? After 30 years as an MP (during which I practically never missed a sitting, if not abroad or sick), I believe that MPs should be prepared to make more time for the people that elect them.” “Re-election should be something that depends on performance in Parliament, and not the other way around. Despite the Parliamentary TV channel, we’ve come to a point where what an MP does in Parliament is irrelevant for his or her re-election, or otherwise.” The issue of whether we should have fulltime MPs, for Mr Galea, is also more complex than just a yes or no answer, raising the question of what type of Parliament we want for the country. “On paper, being a full-time MP should give rise to better-prepared MPs. However, the question which I have always asked about being a full-time MP is what will happen to the MP once the Parliamentary seat is not confirmed?” The obligation for MPs to be full-timers, he argues, would lead to fewer young people being prepared to join the ranks, due to the difficultly of starting early and being re-elected several times before they can retire. “This would imply that many of those who could possibly be interested in being of service to the country will simply refrain from participating. No young person can possibly base his or her future on a five-year period as an MP.” If anything, he continues, until many questions on political participation are answered, being a full-time MP should be an option, and not an obligation, with full-timers actually working full-time and not just on paper. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017


Luciano Busuttil, a Member of Parliament between 2008 and 2017, and the Labour Party’s spokesman for Foreign and European Affairs during that time, looks back on his career in a decidedly bittersweet way. “Being able to form part of the highest institution of the country would make anyone proud. As the son of a shoe-maker, sitting with the legislators was a particular privilege,” he enthuses. “I was proud to serve my country on various occasions. As chair of the Foreign and European Affairs Committee, I had the privilege of heading various delegations and accompanying the Prime Minister at the UNGA 2015.” However, with reference to the price paid for the MP’s chair, Dr Busuttil says, “nothing feels important anymore. Not being able to see your children grow; being treated with disdain by all as being a politician is perceived to be tantamount to being a crook; having to endure lies about yourself and worst of all about your family; being treated like a prostitute for votes with continuous threats from constituents, to mention a few, makes you realise that life is worth more than that uncomfortable green chair.” Asked about his readjustment to professional life, Dr Busuttil, a lawyer and Chairman of Sport Malta, makes use of a colourful metaphor. “At the beginning I felt like Frodo at the exact moment the ring of power was destroyed. All I could say was ‘It’s done! It’s gone!’ not realising if it was a good thing or not. Losing over €30,000 a year overnight is no joke. Luckily enough, new people engaged me as their lawyer, as now I have more time for their cases. However, I cannot say people allow you to become a private citizen anyway!” People do not become Members of Parliament for the money, he says, when asked about the current pay for politicians. “What drives you to become a politician has deeper roots – an inner voice that tells you that you can change the world. But it is the world that changes you, and if you are not OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

Luciano Busuttil ready to let it change you, then there is only one way – out. Many believe you have to be crazy to run for politics, and I don’t know if I am in the right state of mind; but even though I miss a good sharp-tounged debate I will never go back.” Dr Busuttil asserts that being an MP is a full-time job, even if MPs are not paid as such. “Being an MP is a 24/7 job, as you need to be at the people’s service whether you like it or not. To be good in politics you have to neglect your family. When Karl Chircop died, I attended his funeral. I realised that even though thousands attended his funeral, at the end of the day the crowds were all gone and the people who were left at a loss were his wife and children. I did not want to pay that price myself.” “People do not realise what sacrifices one has to endure, just to have the honour of serving your country,” he concludes.

“Being an MP is a 24/7 job, as you need to be at the people’s service whether you like it or not.”



Former Nationalist MP Charlo Bonnici, who was elected in two general elections and served for almost 10 years, describes his political career as a largely positive experience. “It was positive particularly from two aspects: working on the ground in my constituency, and in Parliament itself. Getting to know my constituents and their needs through home visits was a tough, but good experience. I describe it as the much-needed fuel for any politician. On the other hand, I enjoyed parliamentary life with all its intricacies, particularly in my first legislature. In my second legislature I also had a very positive experience as part of the Maltese delegation to the Council of Europe.” For Mr Bonnici, who is currently a Director within Vassallo Group, readjusting to private life was simpler. “Since I had decided not to contest again around two years prior to the last election, I had enough time to let this new reality sink in. It helped me adjust rather quickly to life as a private citizen.” Mr Bonnici is adamant that whilst the conditions offered to MPs should be improved, the decision to start a political career should not be tied to pay. “Nobody should enter politics for the money. At the same time, I find the conditions offered to MPs somewhat degrading. Besides, I fear that the antagonism that exists against the political class fuelled by social media comments is really the main culprit for keeping good people away from politics. Unfortunately politicians themselves, who often instigate such behaviour, are their own worst enemy.”


Charlo Bonnici “Nobody should enter politics for the money. At the same time, I find the conditions offered to MPs somewhat degrading.”

His views on the time Parliament convenes and the possibility of having full-time MPs, meanwhile, are linked. “The time at which Parliament convenes is fine for the present system, where MPs are part-timers. Should MPs become full-timers, I think sessions should be held in the morning and afternoon. For an MP who is also expected to have a day job to sustain a decent living, convening Parliament during the day is unfair. Not all MPs have the opportunity to retain their salary and not turn up for work.” “However, I do believe MPs should be fulltimers,” he asserts. “They should obviously

be given a higher salary, and possibly an adjustment payment for those who do not get re-elected. But having a full-time House of Representatives also has other benefits. It reduces the risk of finding oneself in a conflict of interest situation, especially if you have to declare such a potential conflict in a special register as is the case in other countries. It will also improve the quality of the debates as MPs will have more time to prepare for their contributions. A full-time Parliament, moreover, should have a system of parliamentary assistants to help out MPs in their work and research.” cc



Building on a reputation of personalised, boutique solutions Whilst Malta’s economy has been ostensibly healthy for a number of years, few are immediately aware of the exponential growth experienced in the field of ship registration and finance. Positioned in a strategic location, Malta and its flag are renowned for their value, requiring rigorous compliance with Maltese regulations and international treaties. Malta is a party to all major maritime conventions and abides by the requirements of all internationally-recognised standards.


he island has in fact established itself as an ideal transit route between Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as being a logical choice for the registration of pleasure yachts due to its position at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea and its many ports and marinas. The registration procedure in Malta remains inexpensive and simple, and is open to bareboat charters and all types of vessels, ranging from pleasure yachts to oil rigs owned by EU citizens or in the name of legally-constituted corporate bodies or entities of any nationality. Ranking within the top 10 shipping registers worldwide and the largest within European territory, the Maltese


flag is an increasingly attractive option to ship owners seeking stability and flexibility. With decades of experience in the field and an established department headed by founding partner Dr Robert Tufigno, GTG Advocates has built itself a reputation for offering personalised, boutique solutions designed to assist its clients in the most effective ways. Guaranteeing timely, meticulous and expedient results, GTG Advocates’ expertise draws on the effective application of the law to the advantage of its clients, ranging from ship owners, charterers, agents and freight forwarding companies to international banks and other financial institutions providing ship finance.

GTG’s shipping department routinely covers all aspects of maritime law, ranging from the formation and maintenance of shipping companies to litigation; the firm also handles the ongoing crew and compliance formalities required of vessels by the Maltese authorities. Also offering expert assistance in the field of statutory mortgage deeds and other financing options including registration, amending, transfers and the discharge of mortgages over vessels bearing the Maltese flag, GTG Advocates’ shipping department also provides consultation, drafting and review of maritime contracts such as charter contracts, carriage of goods by sea, tug and tow, and marine insurance. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017


GTG Advocates will be involved in reviewing proposals as well as making recommendations concerning Malta’s blockchain strategy, promoting the use of blockchain technology in the public as well as the private sectors. provides book-keeping services and timely preparation of financial statements as well as tax advice. Furthermore, GTG Advocates’ sister company, Finac Limited, is authorised by the MFSA to offer fiduciary and trustee services. Harnessing the blockchain potential With the 2018 Budget promising to further enhance Malta’s dynamic economy, while also strengthening the financial services industry, GTG Advocates’ Technology, Media and Telecommunications branch has been closely monitoring the Maltese Government’s growing interest in blockchain and crypto currencies. Indeed, Dr Ian Gauci, one of the firm’s senior partners and a leading expert in telecommunications and data protection legislation, has recently been appointed as Legal Advisor to the newly formed Government task force advising on the implementation of Malta’s national blockchain strategy. GTG Advocates will be involved in reviewing proposals as well as making recommendations concerning Malta’s blockchain strategy, promoting the use of blockchain technology in the public as well as the private sectors. While regulators may face numerous challenges in approaching blockchain technology and the creation of a new and functional regulatory framework, the task force’s role is therefore aimed primarily towards facilitating the adoption of new technologies within the context of a sound legal and operational framework, attracting investment in technologies relating

to blockchain. The ultimate aim is to encourage the growth of Malta’s digital economy, in line with Government’s commitment towards the adoption of blockchain and other related technologies in Malta – a sector which is certain to experience exponential growth in the foreseeable future. GTG Advocates is also concerned with the significant challenges which blockchain presents, particularly on privacy, security and operational risk elements arising out of its software as well as its decentralised model. Privacy and data protection, particularly in Europe, could be problematic for blockchain deployment as the rights of data subjects, including the right to port data, erase, stop data processing and the right of rectification need to be catered for, as well as the correct legitimisation of the processing in a decentralised environment. Non-adherence under the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) could be extremely costly. This is particularly relevant to our financial services industry since every major bank and financial institution is considering the potential of applying this technology in different areas of their business, such as payment, stock trading, or similar transaction-based processes. Within this backdrop, Malta needs to be able to safely build the capabilities that are necessary to successfully harness the blockchain potential, without dampening the appetite for this new technology. cc GTG Advocates, 66, Old Bakery Street, Valletta. T: 2124 2713;

GTG’s shipping department works in direct collaboration with its corporate law department, which offers clients a wide range of services including company incorporation and corporate assistance, provision of registered office, drafting of memoranda, share transfer agreements, and shareholders’ agreements. Having garnered significant experience with both private as well as public companies including IPOs, the firm’s practitioners have broad market and sector knowledge as well as a global perspective, which enables them to provide advice on cutting-edge transactions and complex cross-border arrangements. The firm’s in-house accountancy department OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017



NEWS Events & Initiatives

01. Chamber makes procompetitiveness proposals for 2018 Budget The Malta Chamber presented its proposals to the Finance Minister as part of the pre-Budget consultation process on 4th September. In its proposals, the Malta Chamber highlighted the fact that energy prices for medium-sized companies in Malta are 42 per cent higher than the EU average, making the price for energy for businesses the highest across Europe. The Chamber’s claim, which was corroborated by Eurostat’s latest report on the subject, also highlighted how Malta remained the only EU country in which industrial energy tariffs were higher than domestic tariffs. The Chamber also focused on a number of labour market issues which were posing challenges to businesses in Malta and in turn to the sustainability of jobs. At the same time, the Chamber argued that Malta’s state of ‘full employment’ had created significant challenges for the private sector to fill its vacancies, both in terms of quantity and quality. The Chamber also argued that it was not acceptable that certain Government departments were hindering economic

operation, by either closing shop altogether, or providing their services at a premium cost, in the afternoons of the summer months. The Chamber called on Government to find a solution, at no cost to the private sector. Focusing on the subject of excise duties, the Chamber said it remained fundamentally opposed to the notion of replacing eco-contribution with excise duties, as effectively, this was not a replacement but an additional tax.

The Chamber also made a number of other recommendations relating to infrastructure, the national airline, RTDI and access to finance.

02. Bottlenecks for the private sector not acceptable The Malta Chamber said that in the current climate of rapid economic expansion, the private sector couldn’t afford bottlenecks that affected its operation,




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03. no less during the summer months. In a press release issued on 7th September, the Malta Chamber said it was unacceptable that at a time when the economy was firing on all cylinders, the private sector was finding closed doors or premium charges when seeking certain indispensable services during the summer months. “The public and the private sectors are the two sides of the very same coin called the economy. They both depend on each other to thrive,� the statement said. In conclusion, the Malta Chamber called on all interested parties to act responsibly and meet around a table to discuss a solution to render the country more competitive, in the same way that the Malta Chamber had recently agreed to discuss matters that it was initially opposed to.

03. Members attend annual summer reception The Malta Chamber held its annual summer reception on 14th September. Chamber President Frank V. Farrugia welcomed guests to the event which was held at the Esplora Interactive Science Centre in Kalkara. The Malta Chamber summer reception is organised annually in September. 66


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04. 43 students shadow business leaders in second edition of Leaders for a Day Following the great success of last year’s edition, JAYE Malta in collaboration with the Malta Chamber and CORE, organised the second edition of Leaders for a Day – a daylong programme held on 15th September, aimed at offering aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to job shadow some of Malta’s business leaders on their typical day. 43 students who successfully finished their Junior Achievement Young Enterprise Company Programme last year, attended the second edition of Leaders for a Day. The initiative was aimed at helping students understand the workings of top management in Malta’s leading businesses as they shadowed CEOs and other senior officials for a day. The students were all graduates from the JAYE Malta Company Programme which runs from October to May every year. This meant that participants all went through the various stages of creating a mini-company last year. Speaking on behalf of the Malta Chamber, Chris Vassallo Cesareo, described how the Malta Chamber and JAYE have worked closely in the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture amongst the young. “It is for this purpose that the Malta Chamber and Junior Achievement Young Enterprise share an excellent relation that goes a while back,” he said. For more information on JAYE Malta programmes and initiatives contact

05. Employer bodies clarify position on public holidays issue In a statement, Malta’s employer bodies said that the electoral promise to compensate workers for public holidays that fall on a weekend continued to be of grave concern. The four organisations confirmed that in the previous days they had separate meetings with Minister Helena Dalli where they expressed their grave concern and continued opposition to this measure. In the press release, the employer bodies explained how “the opposition stems from the fact that Malta’s current growth must not be taken for granted. Once additional benefits are granted to workers, they will be considered irrevocable, irrespective of an economic slowdown which may threaten jobs.” The four organisations reiterated that they were in favour of familyfriendly measures and the improvement of quality of life for workers as long as they are economically viable. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

04. 69

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06. Energy rates for businesses still highest in EU Speaking at a Pre-Budget Business Breakfast on 20th September, Malta Chamber Policy Executive Nigel Mifsud reiterated that Malta’s businesses were still paying the highest energy rates in Europe. This was having an effect on Malta’s competitiveness. Mr Mifsud highlighted the urgent need to review these energy rates for SMEs. He also urged Minister for Finance Edward Scicluna to introduce additional active labour market policies and other short and long-term solutions to narrow the increasing labour gap. On behalf of the Chamber, Mr Mifsud also welcomed news of Government’s intention to focus on upgrading Malta’s infrastructure, which was one of the three main pillars on which the Chamber built its pre-Budget 2018 proposals.

07. 3,000 vacancies to be generated in the next five years Chamber members, responding to a Vacancies Survey carried out in September, have indicated that they would be recruiting close to 3,000 employees to fill vacancies which were expected to develop over the next five years. Almost 60 per cent of these vacancies were expected to be of a relatively lower-skill or education level and a correlation between skill level and pay is evident, yet notable outliers exist. The information was presented during a well-attended consultation session for members on the subject of employment of third country nationals organised by the Malta Chamber. 70

07. The survey findings further highlighted the fact that Malta could not produce the human resources demanded by an economy experiencing such rapid growth, no matter what is done in the short-term. “Therefore, the only real short-term solution is for employers to resort to the recruitment of foreigners, especially third-country nationals,” said

Andre Fenech, Head of Policy when presenting the survey findings. Focusing on the challenges of such recruitment issues, Vice-President Andrew Mamo said that due to the situation of virtually full employment, Chamber members were having to resort to recruiting personnel from outside the European Union, in order to meet their human resources requirements. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

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09. Chamber’s preliminary reactions to Budget 2018 speech

08. 08. Event aimed at startups provides tools for budding entrepreneurs The Malta Chamber together with Bank of Valletta plc held ‘Start-Up Strong, Tools for Success’, as part of SME Week Malta 2017 on Wednesday 4th October. The well-attended event, was aimed at encouraging young people to take the start-up route and become entrepreneurs. During the event, the Malta Chamber – BOV ‘SME Toolkit’ was launched. It is available at: www. The SME Toolkit will guide young entrepreneurs through the crucial decisionmaking phases of setting up a company, such as the business plan, acquiring finance, legal, green credentials and marketing. New York Best founder and CEO Tommy Diacono addressed the audience and explained how setting up a business from the ground up was challenging but greatly satisfying in the long run. Think founder and CEO Bjorn Azzopardi explained how his company started designing and developing websites in 2003 but soon expanded to include a full portfolio of web-related services. Welcoming the young audience, Malta Chamber President Frank V. Farrugia said that whether in the early stages of startup, or at any other stage of setting up a business, there would always be times that make the entrepreneur question whether the effort and sacrifice are worth it. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

“Despite the seemingly impossible challenges, it will be worth the effort once the business has found its feet. Keep your head up and persist. Dream big, work hard, make yourself seen and heard. Be sure to exploit all the help and guidance you can get from the many organisations and ongoing initiatives aimed at supporting start-ups,” Mr Farrugia said. Albert Frendo, Chief Credit Business Development Officer at Bank of Valletta said, “this is an important piece in the mosaic of support given to start-ups and SMEs, who are key contributors to the Maltese economy. As the bank for SMEs, Bank of Valletta has been supporting these entrepreneurs not only through tailored financing but also by using our EU Representative Office in Brussels to assist them in tapping into EU centralised funds and take advantage of the opportunities available.” A panel discussion with the contribution of Malta Chamber DG Kevin J. Borg, Microsoft Innovation Centre Manager Mary Downing, Junior Achievement Young Enterprise CEO Julian Azzopardi, Intact CFO Nicole Cassar and Camilleri Preziosi Advocates Senior Associate Andrei Vella, followed. Concluding the event, Minister for the Economy Chris Cardona said “we have the leading economy in Europe right now, and our next goal is to catapult our efforts to transform Malta as an island of entrepreneurship and technological sophistication.”


Following the announcement of the Government’s Budget for 2018 by the Minister of Finance, the Malta Chamber published its initial reactions to the measures within it on 9th October. In a statement the Chamber said that from initial reviews of the financial position and projections, it appeared that the Government’s room for manoeuvre is understandably restricted. “Indeed the overall position of the consolidated fund will remain negative in 2017 and 2018 with marginal gains in 2019 and 2020. However, the overall deficit in the consolidated fund is expected to remain in the region of €100 million over the period.” The Chamber said that it was evident that the economy was performing well and the recent positive economic performances had generated a positive effect on the state of public finances. The Chamber noted that its calls for Government not to introduce any surprise measures and new taxes were largely heeded. “This is to the advantage of business momentum,” the statement said. With regard to better regulation, the Chamber welcomed the long overdue announcement on the offsetting of payments between private operators and Government. On the subject of energy prices for non-residential use, the Chamber criticised Government for not addressing a situation whereby businesses in Malta were still paying among the highest energy rates across the EU. The Chamber also noted the announcement and decision to re-introduce public holidays falling on a weekend as vacation leave, although it made it clear that discussions with the employer bodies were ongoing.

Photo by DOI, Omar Camilleri



NEWS Internationalisation

01. Maltese businesses to be invited to participate in Expo 2020 procurement process Maltese companies will be invited to participate in the public procurement process leading to the organisation of the 2020 Expo which will be held in Dubai. This was confirmed by a delegation from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce which was visiting the Malta Chamber on Thursday 12th October. Expo 2020 is a universal exposition to be hosted by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2020. Welcoming the delegation to the Malta Chamber, Deputy President David Xuereb said that there was ample space for collaboration between Malta and Dubai as both countries were strategically positioned to act as gateways to specific areas of the globe, rendering penetration into Europe and South East Asia easier for businesses. Mr Xuereb paid tribute to the memory of the late Tonio Casapinta, who was instrumental to the establishment of the excellent relations between the two Chambers. Kevin J. Borg Malta Chamber DG said that there were several areas in which Malta and Dubai could collaborate, namely financial services, information technology and aircraft maintenance, among others. Mr Borg continued that Malta’s strong economic growth coupled with its current lowest unemployment in Europe and its fiscal deficit being among the best in Europe, made Malta a most attractive location for investment. In the morning, the Chamber participated in a Malta-Dubai Business Forum held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after which the Dubai delegation attended a lunch at the Casino Maltese hosted by the Malta Chamber. 74


with the latest from the Autumn/Winter 2017 runways, inspired by traditional craftmanship and sharp dressing. Rebecca Anastasi looks at the latest trends. 01. Folk details Hand-woven tapestry, intricate needlework and sequin designs inspired by an artsy spirit dominate this season, with an emphasis on unexpected pairings, elaborate prints and earthy tones. Craftinspired long dresses, fitted on top with ample skirt room, also featured – perfect for office-to-dinner occasions.

02. Natural materials Suede, leather, corduroy and wool are the materials of the season, perfect for keeping you warm and on-trend at the same time. Inspired by the ‘70s, but including cuts reminiscent of more recent decades, jackets, trousers and even full suits were rolled out in these fabrics and textures.

Multi-purpose and attention-seeking, this season’s ‘it’ bags for men and women are oversized and slouchy or colour-blocked cool, as can be seen in this Louis Vuitton examples infused with New York street cred.


05. Bright stiletto boots Not for wallflowers, bright stiletto boots strutted down the runway with attitude. Worn with more sedate work wear, they included red and blue velvet over-theknees and green patterned footwear.

01. Alexander McQueen

Style review Update your office wardrobe


04. The ‘It’ bag

06. The rebel’s sharp suit Nostalgia seems to be everywhere this season and the latest trend for ‘90s pinstripe suits, fluid trousers and leather gloves is testament to this. The re-emergence of the narrow necktie, as could also be seen at the Dior Homme show, is a throwback to the gothic, romantic style of the New Wave. cc


Tom Ford

03. The pant suit Pencil skirts have made way for the ‘80s power dressing of the pant suit. Styled-up tailoring, such as Alexander McQueen’s belted grey two-piece or the black loosercut three-piece with contrasting red shirt as seen at Hermès, will have you looking sharp from dawn to dusk.

Louis Vuitton

Dior Homme Yannis Vlamos /




05. Alexander McQueen Kim Weston Arnold / OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017




Budget 2018 Empowering the transport evolution Artist’s impression of the Marsa Addolorata Multilevel Junction project


ecognising the difficulties faced by road users in our daily commutes is the first step towards a more effective transport system,” says Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, Dr Ian Borg. Government’s 2018 Budget is empowering the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects to lay the foundations of a long-term plan to gradually develop convenient and cost-effective travel solutions for the Maltese Islands. Years of haphazard development, obsolete road designs, rapid population growth, and the recent boom in tourism and many other sectors of our economy, are taking their toll on our land transport infrastructure, causing unacceptable social, financial and environmental impacts. Dr Ian Borg makes it clear that there is no instant solution to the country’s transport difficulties: “We are pushing forward an all-encompassing plan comprising short-, medium- and long-term investments to develop the effective transport systems which taxpayers expect from us.” Following the June election, the Ministry launched over 25 projects to upgrade major junctions of the country’s road network and to resurface or rebuild other roads that needed urgent attention. These small-scale interventions will not take us far, but they are helping us get to our destinations with fewer difficulties until other long-term projects come on stream. “We are set to begin several other medium- and long-term projects,” Minister Borg explains. “The new multilevel junction next to the Addolorata Cemetery in Marsa, which is an investment of over €70 million, the €20 million development of new underground tunnels to re-engineer the Santa Lucija roundabout, the €5 million upgrade of the Marsa-Hamrun Bypass and


the widening of Triq Buqana between Rabat and Mosta are just some of the developments we’re starting in 2018.” The 2018 Budget also announced the setting up of a new agency to deliver Government’s long-term commitment of upgrading the country’s road network and establish sustainable and effective ongoing maintenance programmes to ensure that this unprecedented investment is not lost to disrepair within a few years. The agency will introduce new sustainable, accountable mechanisms, as well as private sector involvement to consolidate the management of our road network. The Ministry is also looking ahead to other long-term developments. Studies to introduce a reliable and convenient mass rapid transport system and to start the excavation of a tunnel linking Malta to Gozo are also underway. The Ministry is at the forefront of several other initiatives launched in the 2018 Budget, including free transport for children attending

independent and church schools, as well as incentives for alternative modes of travel, including cycling and ferry services. Other new incentives are being introduced to encourage the increased use of electric vehicles, in line with the Ministry’s vision for the electrification of road transport. It is not enough to work only on the push mechanisms and invest in the road infrastructure but pulling our commuters and empowering them, through the introduction of incentives, to switch to alternative modes of transport will also help to revolutionise our transport mechanisms for the benefit of all. The list of upcoming developments in the local transport sector is complex and wide-ranging, but Minister Borg is optimistic. “Resolving the difficulties on our roads requires a unified effort from all stakeholders, a national paradigm shift and a level of compromise as well. However, I am confident that given the adequate conditions and resources, we will all be there to turn these challenges into new opportunities for a better quality of life in our country.” cc

Photo by DOI, Omar Camilleri



Of Scandinavian design and Maltese views The innovative use of reclaimed wood, smart distribution of space and designer accents which make for intriguing details are at the heart of this St Julian’s office, with an incredible view to boot. Martina Said chats with architect Bernard Vella from Il-Periti to find out what went into it. Photos by Ramon Portelli | Furniture and accessories by DEX Workspaces and Camilleri Paris Mode


eated on the green modular sofa in the lounge of Quickspin’s offices in St Julian’s, beneath the striking suspended lamps that lend an industrial touch to this modern office space, employees of this growing company can marvel at the majesty of the historic Balluta Buildings right opposite, a rare sight for this increasingly urban town. On the outside, the town of St Julian’s is as hectic as it gets, but within the Quickspin offices, the pace is calm and casual, resembling a home office, albeit one with all the amenities of a fully-fledged office finished to spec. I meet architects Bernard Vella and Adam Brincat of Il-Periti, the design team that headed this project, who tell me that the offices took approximately three months to complete, from proposal stage to completion. “Quickspin is a Swedish game studio that develops video slots, therefore servicing gaming companies, and from the outset,


the client wanted the office to be fun and informal with a Scandinavian feel,” says Bernard. “The Malta office was being set up at the same time as their Stockholm office, and although they wanted some elements in both offices to be the same, they allowed us a lot of flexibility. In essence, they gave us a list of the essentials they wanted in the office and left the rest in our hands.” The office space, which was previously split to accommodate two separate offices, had a circular layout and a glass façade, as well as two supporting columns, all of which needed to be retained. “The glass façade meant that the property was quite well-lit inside, however, we needed to create sections around the central, open-plan area for meeting rooms, storage and amenities – doing so begins to block out the light, therefore we needed to strike a balance between closing off sections and keeping a sense of open space. 81


Simultaneously, creating these pockets of space around the office eliminates curved edges, so from the open-plan area, you don’t really get the feeling that you’re in a round building.” Bernard explains that the initial idea was to have the design of the office resemble a piazza, where the main activity is at the centre, around which all other services revolve. Although the concept evolved somewhat, the end result wasn’t too far off – the central hub of the office is the open plan working space, and the reception, meeting rooms, bathroom facilities, kitchenette, server and storage room, as well as lounge area are designed around it. “We still wanted to create a feeling of open space, while balancing it with the smaller, sectioned spaces required in an office. Despite closing off the building’s rounded sides to fit in the meeting rooms – which were an important part of the design for the client, particularly in terms of sound insulation – the segregation of spaces is subtle, and light still floods through the glass to illuminate the interior. Overall, the feeling of the offices retains a relaxed look and feel, which reflects the company’s style,” says Bernard. One of the most striking design elements of the space is the bold, dividing wall that distinguishes the working area of the office from the utilities, such as the kitchen and bathrooms. “We created a subtle but clear demarcation, with the aim of ‘hiding’ the less intriguing parts of the office,” says Bernard. The kitchen, clearly distinguished due to its predominantly white colour palette with touches of wood, was left open, but the bathrooms are completely tucked away behind the display unit in the open-plan area, accessed by a seemingly invisible door. “We cladded this wall with reclaimed pallets to create a raw effect. The end result was a pleasant surprise to us, as it gives the office a warm feel, yet a fresh look,” says Bernard.

“The segregation of spaces is subtle, and light still floods through the glass to illuminate the interior.”

“One of the best parts of interiors and architecture is that we get to work with a range of materials and use them in particular ways to achieve something different.” 82



“We wanted to establish a warm and welcoming feel through the use of natural materials such as wood.”

“One of the best parts of interiors and architecture is that we get to work with a range of materials and use them in particular ways to achieve something different. The more unexpected, the more the result can shock and take you by surprise, if done properly.” Further highlighting this eye-catching wall are light strips integrated between the wood, which are particularly attractive at night, when it’s the only source of light visible inside the office. And hidden among the panels of reclaimed wood is a door that provides access to the bathroom, so neatly concealed that it caused puzzled looks when the employees first moved in, as they wondered where the office bathrooms were. “The bathroom door and server room door are both fairly hidden and easy to miss, the aim being that they don’t detract from other parts of the office that merit attention,” says Bernard. “We also gave particular attention to sound insulation here, adding rock wool from floor to ceiling behind the wood panels, through which we also passed many services. Although aesthetically pleasing, that wall also had an important function in the office.” Sticking to a natural colour palette, the architect asserts that the overarching colour scheme was white, natural wood and orange, the latter being the company’s corporate colour. “As much as possible, we avoided using artificial materials, bearing in mind budget and practicality at all times. The work desks, for instance, are made of an artificial high composite material, making them scratchresistant and so extremely durable. But in OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

general, we wanted to establish a warm and welcoming feel through the use of natural materials such as wood, which we used quite freely. We balanced this with white furniture, walls and ceilings, and subtle touches of orange, namely in the mosaic tile used behind the kitchen and bathroom sinks.” One aspect that was significantly invested in was lighting, designed with the assistance of an engineer to ensure lighting levels and the passing of services were at par with the requirements of the office. “The lighting in the lounge area, by international brand Flos, is an unusual and statement piece,” says Bernard, referring to the black pendant lamps reminiscent of film studio lighting. “We were after something which is as visually intriguing from the outside as it is from the inside, and this one fit the bill. For the rest of the office, we factored in functionality first and foremost, adding task lighting as well as accent lighting wherever necessary.” As for flooring, particular attention was given to the material chosen for the meeting room. “There was an emphasis on good acoustics for these rooms, so we used carpeting to achieve the desired result. For the rest of the space – except for the kitchen where we used ceramic tiles – laminate parquet flooring was chosen for its durability and aesthetic value.” Despite the tight deadline, Bernard says the greatest challenge was organising the space in a way that ensured enough desk and circulation space with no wastage. “Maintaining a balance between open and closed spaces was tricky at first, but the

rest of the project flowed easily once these initial issues were ironed out,” he says. And the biggest reward? “That would have to be the client’s reaction to the end result. A positive and encouraging remark isn’t always forthcoming in the end, but when it is, it’s immensely satisfying.” cc


01. Flexible furniture Adaptable areas that can deliver for changing requirements is an essential element of office design this year, and choosing furniture with this flexibility in mind is part of the game. Furniture that can adapt depending on the use of the space ranges from modular seating and work benches to desk pods, meeting tables and collaborative and breakout furniture – all of which represent an intelligently designed, adaptable workplace, and have the added benefit of looking great too!

02. Private spaces The popularity of the open-plan office has given rise to a growing need for private, quiet spaces in the absence of cubicles. While the open office layout is certainly here to stay, areas focused on promoting productivity have begun to pop up in modern office design, and reflect the importance of privacy and acoustics in the workplace.


Photo: Design Milk

05. Glass conference rooms


Building on the popularity of the open-plan office and continuous layouts, more and more companies are choosing to use glass in place of wall partitions. Particularly popular when it comes to closing off meeting and conference rooms – areas that generally require an element of privacy and quiet – glass walls are great for keeping the feel of an open floorplan while limiting noise.

Photo: We Are Hatch

With employees spending ever more time at work, the importance of great office design is magnified. Sarah Micallef discovers the latest trends and developments in the modern office.


A trend that’s been firmly gaining ground since 2016, biophilic design is all about bringing the outdoors in, and is based on the idea that with employees spending so much time in the office, it is important for them to come into contact with nature. From living walls and terrariums to simply dedicating space to a selection of plants within the office, biophilic design has been linked to increased productivity and reduced stress.

06. On-site fitness centres With employee health and wellness being given increasing importance by employers, and with workers spending ever longer hours at work, a number of larger companies are introducing on-site fitness centres for employees. If space is forthcoming, a fitness centre at work is a great incentive, and helps keep workers healthy and happy. cc



Photo: Design Digga


Photo: Cubex Contracts

Certainly the break-out material from recent years’ industrial design trend, concrete is to be found everywhere in homes and commercial spaces, including on the floors, countertops, shelving, sinks and even planters. The current trend is to inlay the concrete with different elements like wood, stone and paint, breaking up the grey with different colours.

Photo: We Are Found

03. Concrete

Photo: Office Snapshots

The modern office


04. Biophilic design




Prohealth: Paving the way for long-term success Founded by three passionate pharmacists, Prohealth has been distributing and marketing pharmaceuticals, Dermo-Cosmetics and medical devices to pharmacies and hospitals across the island since 1995. The company’s founders, as well as some if its longest-standing members, tell Martina Said about Prohealth’s early years, its bustling working environment, and future ambitions. Photos by Alan Carville

Peter Apap


ince starting out as a part-time project among three friends with a mutual passion for pharmacy, Prohealth has come a very long way, and today represents some of the most respected international brands, including La Roche-Posay, Vichy, Ursapharm, and Galderma. “Many products that include Anthelios, Dercos, Hylo-COMOD, Hysan, Ocean Spray, and Muciclar are now to be found in many Maltese households,” says Peter Apap, co-Founder and CEO of Prohealth. “In 2004, Prohealth also started its export business in Libya and has over the past few years been exploring opportunities in other export markets.” Mr Apap asserts that Prohealth’s origins are what differentiate the company from others in the industry. The three co-founders, Andrew Paris, John Jaccarini and Mr Apap himself – who, together with Joseph FX Zahra form the Board of Directors, with Mr Zahra as its non-executive Chairman – are all pharmacists who had a dream over 20 years ago of branching out into the business. “We had no capital, some experience, and no idea of what setting up and developing a company would entail,” he explains. “Growth in the first 10 years was steady but calculated, and we have always been hands-on and immersed at all levels of the day-to-day running of the business. We hope that our direct involvement and daily work ethic has had a positive effect on the rest of the team, as well as the company’s positive 88

John Jaccarini

culture. Besides, having rolled up our sleeves and done most of the jobs needed over the years ourselves has given us priceless insight into how to conduct our business, and how to interact with all stakeholders.” Mr Apap asserts that Prohealth’s three main pillars – its people, primary customers and strong portfolio of brands – are what drive the company forward. “Our people are our greatest asset. We have seen this vital ‘asset’ appreciate over time thanks to the positive contribution of many individuals over the years. The second pillar is our loyal primary customers: pharmacies and medical doctors, including an array of specialists and health care professionals, who have supported us from day one. This base has grown exponentially over the years, built on our belief that a great product includes equally excellent customer service and honest relationships. The third pillar is the portfolio of foreign brands with diverse, high-quality products that we market and distribute exclusively in our territories, which is the cornerstone of our company.” The company has grown from three directors juggling their brand new business with other full-time jobs together and one full-time pharmacy salesperson in 1995, to a staff complement today of 45 persons in Malta plus 10 overseas. “Milestones that come to mind are our first sale ever invoiced to a pharmacy in Zurrieq back in March 1995, the start of our business in Libya in

Andrew Paris

2004, our appointment as Vichy distributors in 2007, the move to our new stores and offices in Zebbug in 2011, the set-up of a Medical Devices Business Unit in 2015 and our first sale to Sudan this year, to name a few,” says Mr Apap. Speaking of the company’s export operations, John Jaccarini, co-Founder and Executive Director, asserts that the Libyan market was, and still is, a very important market to them. “At our peak, sales reached 50 per cent of our turnover. The ongoing political turmoil has caused big disruptions, posing a significant threat to the country’s business climate. However, we have kept our channels open within the constraints we’ve been facing. Perhaps because we’re emotionally attached to the country, we see Libya’s potential in the future, and we are confident that it will revert to being a good country to do business with. When this happens, Prohealth will make sure to come back even stronger than before.” Mr Jaccarini adds that the 2011 revolution in Libya was an eye-opener for the company too, as it exposed an over-reliance on the Libyan market to complement its home market activity. “The challenge was to reinvent ourselves while working through the chaos created by the crisis. In the postrevolution years, we embarked on our first proper re-organisation within the company. We started looking at other potential export markets, and Africa was a logical avenue. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

CC HEALTH After many years of preparatory work and registrations, we have finally started selling in Sudan, and are currently in negotiations to expand into other sub-Saharan markets.” The restructuring of a strong board and executive committee, good governance, an HR strategy enabling the recruitment, retention and empowerment of good people, together with the formulation of the company’s Vision 2020 have enabled Prohealth to achieve the goals set out for it in Malta as well as export countries. “Today, we have systems in place to fuel further growth, but what remains at the core of our success is our passion and drive to succeed within our limitations, creating the best possible long-term relationships with all stakeholders involved, whether they are local or foreign.” Andrew Paris, co-Founder and Executive Director at Prohealth, asserts that one of the company’s greatest challenges has been brought about by its very own diversification and development. “Such diversification and development require strong Regulatory Affairs and Supply Chain Management, because each brand has different realities which need to be tackled, and each market has different challenges which must be faced. Malta offers the challenges of a fully regulated regulatory framework, both for pharmaceuticals as well as for medical devices, while, being an emerging market, African countries offer different challenges in these fields,” says Mr Paris. “Further still, the product mix offers a diversification in itself, as it comprises pharmaceuticals, medical devices, health products and cosmetics which are often classified differently in individual markets. Supply Chain Management is another area which will offer challenging scenarios as the number of references and markets grow. Once again, Malta being a stable home market offers trends that are easier to monitor when compared to emerging African markets, where trend forecasts are not high on people’s agendas.” Looking ahead to 2018, CEO Peter Apap is aiming to consolidate the company’s double digit growth trend in Malta, driven in 2017 by Prohealth’s dynamic Pharma Business Unit, leading Dermo-Cosmetic brands and further development of the more recently-established Medical Devices Business Unit. “These positive figures were partially offset by a decline in exports due to the difficulties in the Libyan market. In Malta, we are confident that we should be able to maintain double-digit growth in 2018. With regard to export markets, we should start reaping the fruits of what we have sown over the past three years in countries like Sudan, whilst simultaneously persisting in trying to overcome the difficulties being faced in the formerlylucrative Libyan market.” cc OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

A Word From… Jackie Vella, Vichy Brand Manager “I have been working at Prohealth for 10 years, selling and visiting our customers to promote Vichy. After a year, I was offered the position of Vichy Brand Manager. Before joining Prohealth, my perception of the company was that it was dynamic and professional – and working here confirmed this. Always aiming to be professional in doing business, Prohealth makes a conscious effort to maintain a good relationship with its customers, as well as being supportive of its employees. Through personal experience, Prohealth gives its employees the opportunity to advance in their career. Staff members vary in age, from young to more mature (but young at heart!) members, as well as young employees in managerial positions. At Prohealth, the weeks roll by very fast – we work in a busy, enthusiastic and fast-paced environment to meet our objectives, and we are always open to embracing new technologies and challenges.” Rita Caruana, Store Keeper “I’ve been working as a Store Keeper at Prohealth for 11 years, and have seen the company grow significantly. When I started in 2006, we were 12 people (including the directors) working together in a small warehouse, with a much smaller portfolio of products. However, things rapidly started changing with Prohealth’s acquisition of the Vichy brand, which immediately saw us bringing in more people. Things only kept growing from there, and with that so did my responsibilities, our office space and stores. Looking back, I cannot imagine working anywhere else – not only because I enjoy my job, but also because of the great environment.” Ritianne Cutajar, Consumer Marketing Assistant “I started working with Prohealth as a Sales Assistant in their pharmacies in 2001, until I was promoted to Front Office Receptionist in 2011. During this time, Prohealth was expanding

and many more staff members were being recruited. In 2014, I was promoted to join the marketing department as a Consumer Related Marketing Assistant due to my extensive knowledge of the company’s products. I had my daughter a couple of years ago, and the support I got from the directors has been astounding. I was given the option of working part-time, and my manager does his best to be flexible when child-related emergencies arise and I am totally stuck. It’s not all work at Prohealth – the directors also support a number of charity initiatives and fun activities within the company. As part of the Social Committee, I help organise various activities throughout the year, and at the end of the year, our directors double the amount collected, with all proceeds going to various charities. We are currently making preparations for our upcoming event, a dog walk in collaboration with The Island Sanctuary, with all proceeds going to this animal shelter.” Kristina Vella, La RochePosay Medical Representative “At Prohealth, we focus on making sure our interactions with doctors are consistent and of the highest quality. This is what builds confidence in our organisation, ensuring that our clients and doctors feel valuable to our business. In the Dermatology field, we reach out to doctors on a monthly basis, providing useful information which assists them in offering a better service to their patients. We make it a priority to respond to any queries or requests efficiently and in a friendly manner, which is one of the most important things that sets our company apart.” Michael Montebello, Sales Representative “Throughout my 25 years of experience as a sales representative, engaged in the sales of pharmaceuticals and other products, I can say that the job itself requires good communication skills and a relationship of trust, so as to ensure the satisfaction of the pharmacist. One of my main duties is to make my consumers’ needs a priority, on a daily basis. This involves urgent special deliveries, seasonal bonuses, the replacement of expired items, and other negotiation matters. My work motto is that patience and persistence are key to providing the best possible service.” 89


Helping enterprises realise their business potential As 3a celebrates its 10th anniversary, the company’s Executive Directors and Founders, Neville Cutajar, Christian Vella and Clive Farrugia, discuss the identity and positioning of the firm and the network as a fast-growing player in the professional services sector.


ince its launch in July 2007, 3a Malta has gone from strength to strength. Led by a team of dynamic professionals, the organisation has more than tripled its initial complement of staff from nine employees to over 30 over the past decade. The firm has also created the first Maltese network providing accounting, auditing and advisory services – 3a Global – which was launched in 2013 and which has incorporated member firms in seven different European countries. Ensuring that 3a Malta fulfils its mission to provide an innovative and comprehensive yet personal service to local and international business is a matter very close to the top management of 3a. The focus is to act as a catalyst for enterprises in realising their business potential through the 3a trio of core competences that include accountancy, assurance and advisory services. 90

What do you believe accounts for 3a’s success? “We firmly believe that putting the values espoused by the firm into practice have contributed to the company’s continued growth. Our values include ensuring personalised attention to each individual client’s needs, creating an innovative and professional working environment for our employees and committing to our organisation’s social responsibilities. “3a’s business is in value-building, and every one of the themes mentioned simply reflects the domains in which the brand exerts its efforts whilst conducting its practical business of maximising returns on the investment decisions being made by its clients. “However, the company straddles not only the monetary economy but also a knowledge economy, which explains why since the very

“The company straddles not only the monetary economy but also a knowledge economy, which explains why since the very start, 3a has placed such a premium on creating a working environment which develops its employees’ potential and facilitates the sharing of knowledge.” OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017


“3a’s approach is to provide entrepreneurs with professionals who look at things from the perspective of a Board of Directors, thus providing real business solutions for strategic and investments decisions which need to be taken in real time.” satisfaction, based on the cumulative expertise earned over the years of doing business and helping our clients achieve their goals. “Meeting this goal involves a blend of human resources, networking and a sound IT infrastructure to facilitate communication between the former two. The path taken by 3a reflects the complexity of doing business in the modern world, and echoes the same challenges that are faced by the clients supported by 3a. At the end of the day, our mission is to ensure that each business encounter is a learning experience in itself.” With such a wide variety of clients within your company portfolio, do you address each client’s needs individually? “Although working within an accounting and audit firm involves a significant amount of number crunching, 3a’s clients are not numbers; they are entrepreneurs and established business people who are best served when given individual attention to their particular set of needs and business goals. We achieve this by training our employees to look at clients’ problems from a multiplicity of perspectives and giving them the tools to be able to offer relevant and timely answers to the clients’ questions. In this regard, 3a’s approach is to provide entrepreneurs with professionals who look at things from the perspective of a Board of Directors, thus providing real business solutions for strategic and investment decisions which need to be taken in real time. “The company’s track record of client

retention is proof that this strategy works and is based on our willingness to invest heavily, both in the human resources underpinning 3a’s operations, as well as the technology that permits open and free sharing of the company’s knowledge among employees, network member firms and clients alike.” Accounting, auditing and advisory services are all fields with large and traditionally-established players. How does 3a compete with that? “Whilst 3a is a comparatively small outfit compared to larger and more pronounced organisations in the same industry, we do not underestimate our brand’s ability to be a major player in the market, at least from an innovation and client service point of view. As a boutique firm, 3a depends on the ability of its employees to be able to apply their expertise to a wider range of related areas within their specialisation.” One of 3a’s strong competences is advising and assisting start-ups. Do you have any words of advice for budding entrepreneurs looking to start up their business? “Study your competition diligently and find out what the core benefits that your proposed business’ products and services offer before taking the plunge. The use of e-commerce has made it easier for prospective business owners to set up shop and we recommend a gradual approach to growing one’s brand in the market.” cc

start, 3a has placed such a premium on creating a working environment which develops its employees’ potential and facilitates the sharing of knowledge, something which is also being extended to its global network.” 3a’s tagline is all about helping clients achieve their goals. How have you managed to do so over the past 10 years? “3a’s aim is to promote a business model that extends its reach to a wide client base, while delivering a consistent level of customer OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017



Photos by Inigo Taylor

Fostering a culture of excellence within the local maritime sector The Mediterranean Maritime Research and Training Centre is at the forefront of the maritime sector in Malta, providing training to those interested in a maritime career, whether at sea or on shore. Marketing and Operations Manager Joseph Meli tells Manuel Zarb how a new MMRTC training centre can help foster a culture of excellence.


n early 2019, the Mediterranean Maritime Research and Training Centre (MMRTC) will move to new premises in Hal Far, following an investment of around €2 million in a new maritime training centre. This project, which is of great significance to the Maltese maritime economy, is motivated by a need to improve the skills available on the market and to attract more Maltese to maritime careers. All of this, of course, will be built on the successes of the current centre. “The current training centre was established back in 2010 for the Malta Maritime Pilots to better their knowledge,” explains MMRTC Marketing and Operations Manager Joseph Meli. “We have two full bridge simulators here, giving people the possibility to receive shiphandling training on a variety ships. We also need to ensure that the infrastructure of the harbours and ports can welcome these ships.” One of the crucial factors for the centre’s success is the availability of the two simulators – which are unique to the MMRTC locally, and a rarity even in the Mediterranean. “Besides

the simulators, what differentiates us from our competitors, is that we service the client on demand, whether the client is a company or an individual. Even though commercially it can be challenging, we still offer individual training to clients; as, directly or indirectly, they will affect the work of our pilots by working with them.” When it comes to education and training, there exists a gap between the skills available and the skills required. “The MMRTC has opened its doors beyond pilots to all seafarers and shore-based personnel. We recognise that the existing skills gap is enough of a reason to evolve into a larger training centre. The new centre will feature improved simulators and more classrooms, and will offer a more holistic curriculum to incorporate training not just for merchant ships but also for superyachts, ports and logistics.” The MMRTC’s new training centre will thus offer a holistic programme that will aim to address multiple needs. “By 2019, besides expanding the physical facilities of the training centre itself, we will need to build a nurturing

“The new centre will feature improved simulators and more classrooms, and will offer a more holistic curriculum.” 92



Artistic representation of the new Training Centre

outreach programme to create interest in this sector. We won’t be alone in this – the Government through initiatives such as Malta Marittima and Yachting Malta, as well as through the recognition of the Malta Maritime Forum as the representative body of the Maltese Maritime industry, is doing its part to promote the expansion of the sector. The Education sector too is also actively working to promote careers at sea. The outreach infrastructure will be there, and we’ll be a big part of it.” “The aim is to bring together the knowledge base of experienced lecturers and that of other trainers from the hospitality sector, as well as other sectors. This will allow us to offer training to people with different interests within the maritime sector, whether they want to work on board a ship or within an office environment, as well as attract those who have never considered working in the sector.” There exists a concern that training within the maritime sector has not been given the importance it deserves. This, ultimately, was the motivator for the investment the MMRTC is carrying out. “There are a lot of opportunities out there,” Mr Meli argues. Take the sector of green energy – as we wind down our dependency on heavy fuel oil and gas, we are seeing the need for renewable energy sources. However, there’s no space for wind and solar energy production on land – the sea could offer a solution. This creates new job opportunities in the maritime sector that have never existed locally. The potential for growth is there.” The investment in the new maritime training centre also includes a branding exercise, partly dedicated to carrying out aesthetic changes to the branding materials of the MMRTC, but more importantly, changes to the substance of what it represents. “Our mission is to offer training to all seafarers and shore-based personnel, and the development of excellence. The stakeholders all agree that there is a skills-base gap, and skills that exist are not necessarily meeting the needs and standards required by the industry. We have a lot of potential, so the branding is also within that scope.” Malta has become a busy maritime hub over recent years, Mr Meli says. “After World War II, the maritime sector declined to purely serve the needs of the local economy, but this situation has long since changed. We’ve witnessed many changes – the growth of the Freeport, the phenomenon of cruise liners which boosted tourism, the superyachts sector, internationalisation, and Malta having the largest EU ship register.” These factors are OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

working to put the maritime sector back on the map again, with the sector becoming an attractive career path to follow. Is the maritime sector a priority for Government? “It is definitely one of the sectors Government is pushing,” says Mr Meli. “In fact, Government is working through Malta Marittima and creating particular clusters to concentrate on. Ultimately, the target is to have significant GDP growth, and this is a sector with a lot of potential for growth, as is evidenced by the worldwide growth of the superyacht sector. At the same time, it’s clear that to achieve growth people with the relevant skill set are required within the job market. For this reason we’ve also applied with the National Commission for Further and Higher Education to offer certain qualifications on a credit-based system, reaching right up to the diploma level.” Recruitment for superyachts follows where the hub is, he explains. “Locally, however, there are no people to recruit as no one is training them. There is a general tendency within this sector for training to be done only when the need arises, as opposed to creating the need by training people. By way of example, Malta was very much affected by our proximity to Libya, and many Maltese took up careers within the merchant shipping and oil shipping sectors in Libya. However the political unrest in the region and the drop in oil prices had a negative impact on these sectors and a lot of those who previously worked in oil shipping found themselves

unemployed, as their specialised skills could not necessarily translate to other sectors within the maritime economy.” Without a recruitment base, training is catered for reactively, Mr Meli asserts, and as a result training needs are met either when a company requests bespoke training, or when individuals interested in working within the sector seek out training. Two areas of significance in terms of recruitment numbers are superyachts and cruise liners. These sectors are doing well, and the demand for workers is high. So how come so few Maltese are working on them? The reason, he explains, is an unfortunate lack of knowledge about the sector among people looking for career opportunities. The remedy, Mr Meli continues, is to nurture and reach out to people to garner interest. “The process needs to start early, such as at the secondary school stage, when students start choosing subjects and thinking about the career they would like to pursue. The future for the maritime sector, Mr Meli concludes, looks promising. “If the wow factor our company offered in 2010 was the introduction of two full bridge simulators to Malta, the wow factor now is our investment in the construction of a privately-owned training centre aimed at both seafaring and shore-based personnel. The centre will offer expertise not just in merchant and leisure shipping, but also in other sectors – such as ports and terminals, transport and logistics, administrative and legal work, along with dry docks and ship-building.” “Our plan is to not only train local human resources but to also expand our services further to other continents. What we’re after is the development of excellence, with the new centre at the heart of what’s happening in maritime Malta. The centre can be the spark which pushes the sector forward, and along with the work being put in by other maritime training providers, we hope to see many more people training, and the creation of more demand for training, jobs, and investment.” cc

“What we’re after is the development of excellence, with the new centre at the heart of what’s happening in maritime Malta.”


Gadget trends


4. eSight

With just a few months to go until next year’s Consumer Electronics Show and all the weird and wonderful technology it brings with it, Martina Said picks some of the most intriguing gadgets and tech developments of 2017. 01. Here One Earbuds Transform the way you hear the world around you with the Here One earbuds, which allow users to manipulate sounds around them – you can tune out a loud voice in a bar, or a crying child on a plane. The earbuds are completely wireless, and enable you to stream music and make calls. They’re also capable of smart noise cancellation, so you can stay aware of your surroundings while listening to music.

02. Superpedestrian Copenhagen Wheel This isn’t your average Maltese bicycle with a loud motor. Quite the opposite, the robotic bike wheel on this nifty device powers a user’s ride up to 20 miles per hour for every 30 miles. A wireless sensor connects to smartphones for data collection, a smartlocking hardware ensures no one rides off with your bike, and regenerative brakes add to the bike’s overall efficiency. Perhaps it will take something like this to increase the number of local bike commuters?

Considered a breakthrough for the legally blind, eSight is a wearable, hands-free solution that helps individuals who live with severe visual impairments. The eSight is an over-eye visor that helps people navigate via a combined high-definition camera at the front of the device and video display on the inside – a live feed shows on a pair of OLED displays in front of the wearer’s eyes, enabling one to do virtually anything, from reading and writing to providing directions.

05. Nintendo Switch Always one step ahead of the curve, Nintendo Switch is designed to move with the user, capable of transforming from home console to portable system in a snap, allowing the user to play on the move. Drop the Switch in its cradle to display games on your TV; remove it from its dock to play on the go; and remove the controllers off its sides for a group game session.


06. VicTsing Wireless Waterproof Speaker Love singing in the shower but won’t risk taking your phone in with you? Cue VicTsing’s Bluetooth 3.0 hands-free speaker with built-in microphone, which supports all Bluetooth-enabled devices, allows you to enjoy music without hassling with cables, and best of all, can withstand water without causing shocks. cc

02. 06.


03. LG ‘Wallpaper’ TV LG’s Signature W-Series ‘Wallpaper’ TV is exactly as it sounds – a screen so thin, and so eye-poppingly clear, that the images it produces appear to float in your living room. With a price tag of almost €7,000, this 65-inch display weighs just 16 pounds and is 0.15 inches thick, quite a technological feat indeed. It’s mounted with magnets and uses OLED (Organic LED) technology, which offers visually stunning high-contrast.



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Merill SICAV surpasses the €50m mark Within 19 months, Merill SICAV’s assets under management (AUM) have surpassed the €50 million mark. The SICAV launched its first sub-fund, Merill Total Return Income Fund, in February 2016 while in April 2017, two new sub-funds were launched, Merill Global Equity Income Fund and Merill High Income Fund.

Merill SICAV plc appointed Jesmond Mizzi Financial Advisors Limited to act as Investment and Portfolio Manager to the scheme and its sub-funds. The Merill Total Return Income Fund aims to achieve long-term capital growth but also pays income quarterly. The sub-fund invests primarily in investment grade bonds, other debt securities, and money market instruments. The Merill Total Return Income Fund has reached €26.4 million in AUM. The Merill High Income Fund can be classified as a diversified income fund, and aims to generate income through investing in global bonds with a focus on high-yield bonds and to a lesser extent, in equities. Since the launch, the fund has increased to €16.8 million in AUM. The Merill Global Equity Income Fund aims to provide capital appreciation and income from a diversified portfolio of equity investments, spread across countries and sectors. The AUM of the fund increased to €6.8 million since launch.1 All three sub-funds can invest in thirdparty collective investment schemes. cc 1

A #Smart Space for Smart #People The Saint John is well-defined as a smart boutique hotel by its unique style, innovation, and luxury that complements the historic capital city of Malta.

This is not a recommendation to invest. More information may be obtained from the advert on the facing page or from the documents referred to therein.

Merill SICAV plc is incorporated and licensed as an open-ended CIS, registered in Malta, qualifying as a Maltese UCITS in terms of the UCITS Directive with effect from 16th October 2015. Jesmond Mizzi Financial Advisors Limited (IS30176) of 67, Level 3, South Street, Valletta VLT 1105, Malta, is licensed to conduct investment services business by the MFSA.

NAV as at 6th October 2017

Named after the imposing Baroque Co-Cathedral in Valletta, The Saint John – Boutique Hotel is set 650 yards from the Lower Barrakka Gardens. A member of AX Hotels, The Saint John brings to life a historic value and offers a range of personalised rooms. Equipped with the latest technology, the boutique hotel breathes new life into a historic building and offers 24/7 app-based services and a hassle-free environment. Drift into a retro-inspired and industrial vibe created by raw finish design and a mix of materials, complemented by awe-inspiring architecture. The Saint John also gives you the space to carry out business in a private and exclusive set-up. Equipped with the latest technology, the hotel can provide two meeting rooms holding up to 10 people each. The Saint John also brings Cheeky Monkey, which has established itself as one of Malta’s most popular venues since its inception in 2015, for a selection of topquality high-end beers, cocktails, delicious food and entertainment. The outlet can be found alongside the hotel. cc #GetComfy and have full control of your space managed directly on your smartphone. Easy luxury and comfort #AtYourFingertips.



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Teamwork in the workplace Many businesses rely on successful teamwork to reach company goals and objectives. With more organisations having gone global, good teamwork has become increasingly imperative, since employees with differing skill sets and ideas may be scattered on different continents.

Circumstances may call for these global employees to share what information they have in each location in order to strategise, innovate and bring to market a company’s products or services; teamwork, therefore, plays a variety of important roles in a business. Organisational effectiveness Teamwork plays a vital role in organisational effectiveness, which determines how effective a company can be in its many facets. These facets can include internal communication, communication with investors or shareholders, new product launches and customer service. Depending on the nature of your business, you may depend on different teams working together to ensure that these facets are conducted successfully. This way, a single employee or poorly functioning team will be unable to guarantee an organisation’s effectiveness. Shared knowledge The more employees an organisation has working together in a team toward a common company goal, the more likely that goal will be met successfully. With varying skill sets, strategies, education levels and past work experiences, a team of employees can bring more shared knowledge to the table in terms of innovation, ideas and solutions. This may result in better products, earnings and company operations. Faster results With a team of employees that can benefit from shared knowledge, decision-making can become more streamlined, since each team decision will be better informed than one that is made by an individual who may lack a complete team’s skill set. This can translate to faster solutions to problems that may arise within an organisation, better response time when rolling out new products and alternating marketing strategies, depending on the economic and retail environment. Common purpose The strength of many teams is the coming together for a common purpose. In a corporate atmosphere, this purpose is most often the success of the corporation, which drives employee morale and wages. This recognition of common purpose and the daily striving of working together for the greater good of the organisation plays a


vital role in the health, vitality and agility of a well-functioning company. Teamwork can be an important part of an effective workplace. An efficient team can be trained as a group, help each other maximise their job performance, and help to make an inviting and productive atmosphere for new team members. Certain elements of teamwork in the workplace should be in place for your company to benefit from group organisation. Collaboration Collaboration is an important element to any team. Teamwork allows projects to get done that one person alone is not able to complete. Members of the team bring in their own experiences and level of expertise to a project to help create an effective finished product. To collaborate effectively, the team must be able to communicate and share ideas, and there also needs to be a feeling of respect in place for each team member’s contribution. Conflict resolution After a team has started working together there can be conflict. Some people feel their ideas are not being heard, and others feel that their ideas should always be part of the team’s solution. There could also be a struggle for leadership of the group that can threaten to diminish its effectiveness. The element of conflict resolution within a team means leaving room for everyone’s contributions, developing the ability to listen to all ideas and creating a method of consensus that is used to develop a solution the team can agree on. Roles and responsibilities A team is only effective when the members understand their roles and responsibilities within the group, and endeavour to execute them effectively. A task given to a group is completed more effectively when the responsibilities are distributed fairly among the group members. Each member is assigned a part of the task based on his role within the group and his level of expertise. Differing points of view One of the strengths of teamwork within an organisation is the ability to bring together differing points of view to create a solution to an issue. An effective team creates solutions that are manufactured

from the many different perspectives of the individual group members. This helps to see a situation from several different angles, and can create a solution that no one individual could create on his own. cc

Deborah Schembri is Managing Director at STM Malta Trust and Company Management Ltd. She has 20 years’ experience in the financial services, gaming and hospitality industries. In her various C-level and board member roles she has formulated new strategic directions and implemented the necessary changes. She has been instrumental in setting up and growing various companies. She is a Certified Public Accountant, holds a Masters in Business Administration from Henley Management College and a Diploma in Retirement Provision pursued with the UK Pensions Management Institute. She is the only Maltese resident holding such a qualification in pensions. She is a Fellow Member of the Malta Institute of Accountants, and a Member of the Malta Institute of Taxation, Malta Institute of Management, Institute of Financial Services Practitioners and Pension Management Institute UK. Deborah won Malta’s Best Knowledge Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2015. She has also been nominated and then voted as one of the four finalists for the Commonwealth Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2015.


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Construction sites – why site management is necessary What is site management and why is it important, especially in the context of major construction projects happening in Malta?

A robust site management team is key to the effective management of a construction project. This cannot be treated in isolation but rather as an integral part of a fullyfledged project management structure which follows the project from inception to completion. Projects are becoming increasingly more complex, both in terms of design and the construction technologies being adopted. At the same time, deadlines are becoming more aggressive in the light of fierce commercial competition. This is putting more strain on the effective coordination of all the building elements and the involvement of all project stakeholders. How does iAS promote effective site management? Throughout the years, iAS has acquired substantial experience in the field of project management, managing important largescale projects and nurturing a new breed of project and site managers. Through this experience, iAS has developed its own definition for project management: ‘The management of a change process from inception to realisation through making use of the necessary resources, systems and processes allowing the early recognition of potential risks.’ True to this definition of construction project management, iAS seeks to instil a sense of commitment and respect in its employees, encouraging them to take full ownership of their respective projects. What are the actual measures taken on sites managed by iAS? With iAS taking full control of the project at OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

the early stages of inception, it is possible to ensure that the right adjustments are made as the project develops from concept to a fully detailed project. The drawing up of a Construction Management Plan early during the permitting stage allows the coordination between the planning technicians and project managers to adopt the required tools to control and monitor the project during execution. A site logistics plan is devised, keeping all stakeholders in mind, promoting good practice site management including appropriate site hoardings, wheel-washing facilities, proper signage and illumination, brick-cutters incorporating dust suppression systems, certified scaffolding equipped with effective screen netting, etc. iAS is also a firm promoter of health and safety on construction sites. All efforts and site procedures are directed towards the attainment of a safe working environment culture to both site personnel and the neighbourhood around the site. Effective management also calls for regular maintenance and monitoring, especially due to the aggressive nature present around the construction site. Regular monitoring of the air quality, vibrations and noise being generated from site activity assists the site management team to address any issues as they occur. Finally, iAS retains an open communication channel with all stakeholders, including persons or entities living or working in the areas surrounding the site. This positive communication helps to maintain a healthy relationship based on mutual respect.

What are the areas of improvement? With the experiences gained on major projects, a new breed of project and site managers are being formed. Educational opportunities are also being provided both at secondary as well at tertiary level to raise awareness of the increasing need of project management in construction projects. Despite this, however, a careful re-evaluation of the courses being provided ought to be made to ensure that these courses reflect the real needs of the industry. As such, iAS is positively committed to collaborate with educational institutions such as MCAST and other student bodies such as SACES (Society of Architecture and Civil Engineering students). On a broader level, the building industry operators ought to revisit the way the industry operates at all levels, and endeavour to create a classification of contractors and professional service firms to enable prospective clients to select the right contractors/consultants for their projects based on the level of service, quality and other factors which would be included in such a classification. cc Perit Mark Borg is a member of the iAS Project Management Team and is currently leading the Pendergardens Project. iAS is a multi-disciplinary firm specialising in Project Management, Architectural Design and Structural Design teams. The company has over the years secured and successfully concluded a number of prestigious projects, such as Lufthansa Technik Malta, Pendergardens, Hal Ferh, Gasco LPG facility, Aviation Cosmetics, MIDI T14, Crane Currency and others, through which it gained invaluable experience.


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Eagle Grid – the new dental implant system for everyone More and more often, we see patients who have lost most of their teeth and are constrained to wearing a removable denture without the possibility of a fixed solution, because there is not enough bone left for dental implant placement. Bone grafting and major/invasive procedures can be proposed to these patients, but the uncertain outcome and long recovery time (about a year) can be very discouraging. 

An improved subperiostal implant protocol – where the implant is placed over but not inside the bone – utilising the most innovative and recent technologies is now available, so that previously untreatable cases can now be provided with a fixed alternative. Eagle Grid is a new implant protocol consisting of a personalised metal structure (grid) in titanium, lying on the jaw bone and fixed with retention screws. Titanium is so far the best metal suitable for surgical implants thanks to its biocompatibility with the bone tissue and almost no allergic reactions. The Eagle Grid is personalised: built on a model of the residual bone of the patient obtained from a CT scan. The planning, design and the execution are run by a qualified team of biomedical engineers, dental specialists, dental technicians and IT specialists, in order to obtain maximum accuracy during every stage of the process. The Eagle Grid can resolve cases where all teeth are missing in both the upper and lower jaws, and can replace even single teeth where bone is not available. Once the grid is placed accurately, there is no need for a long healing time – in fact, the grid can be loaded immediately with a fixed replacement bridge.

Before Patient without teeth before the insertion of the Eagle Grid

After Patient one month after the insertion of the Eagle Grid

Procedure 1. The first step is taking a panoramic x-ray of the jaws. Accurate impressions of both upper and lower gums are then taken and used to create a radiographic stent for use in the mouth during a Cone Beam CT scan examination. 2. The CT scan images are elaborated in a specialised laboratory in CADCAM to produce the Eagle Grid according to the patient’s requirements. 3. Highly specialised equipment utilising laser melting at Biotec BTK laboratories in Italy uses a very powerful laser beam to sinterise titanium powder into a threedimensional structure: the Eagle Grid.

Eagle Grid Patient four months later with the new fixed bridge

4. In the dental clinic setting, under local anaesthetic with or without sedation, the gums are carefully exposed so that the Eagle Grid can be fitted in place. The Grid is fitted utilising specialised screws similar to the ones used in orthopaedics and traumatology. After suturing, the patient is fitted with the immediate resin bridge that allows immediate chewing and guides the healing of the gums. 5. After three to four months, once the Grid and the surrounding tissues have healed and settled, the bridge is reconditioned or replaced. cc

Dr Joseph Xuereb – Dental & Implant Surgeon, Principal at Savina Clinic. 7, Sir Adrian Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo. T: 2155 7323, 2755 7323. Level 1, SkyParks Business Centre, Malta International Airport, Luqa. T: 2165 7323, 2125 7253. E:;




The international outlook As Malta continues to attract more global investment than ever, Jo Caruana chats to six high-powered expats who’ve chosen to make the island their base.

Teuta Oruci is a CFO and executive director with 20 years’ international experience in regulated financial markets, including investment banking, insurance and asset management payments. She moved to Malta just over a year ago. “I was drawn to the island for a variety of reasons, including the fascinating history, cultural diversity and honey-coloured stone. A year on, I absolutely love discovering new facts about the country and exploring its beautiful settings. “When it comes to doing business in Malta, I relish the purpose, passion and people here. It is refreshing to be able to connect the dots so quickly and efficiently. People are so willing to help, to be part of doing the right thing; generating growth and positive change. “There are a few key improvements that I would like to see, though, including more investment in human capital. Talent acquisition, retention and growth is the future of upscaling Malta. There is so much young local talent here, and they are willing and capable, however they are stuck at a ‘marzipan level’ of senior management and would benefit from leadership development training. One of my favourite quotes is the following: ‘A CFO asks a CEO: what happens if we invest in developing our people and they all leave us? The CEO says: what happens if we don’t, and they stay?’ “Now, in the years to come I hope to combine my tacit knowledge and Philip Linegard

Teuta Oruci

international network here in Malta, and to launch CEO360 – a channel that will support local and multinational clients. With so many international businesses looking to expand or relocate to Malta, as well as local entrepreneurs and start-up companies, this is a great place to be. I am excited to be part of the growth of our economy over the coming years.” Philip Lingard is a well-known business consultant, specialising in inward investment and business formation, and Group Advisor to the London School of Commerce. He came to Malta 15 years ago, and believes a lot of positive change has taken place in recent years. “I first came to Malta because I was head hunted for a job here, but it had always been somewhere I wanted to visit. I remember my childhood neighbour holidaying here and she said it was magical. “When I arrived, it felt like a second


childhood. Examples of every car my parents owned were running around the streets and even the very same buses I went to school on in Blackburn and Darwen were here. The country has changed almost beyond recognition since then and, apart from the traffic, it’s almost all for the good. Particular pluses are EU membership and the change of Government in 2013. “The great thing about Malta is that there is a general acceptance of you if you are seen to be able to contribute. I have contributed to aviation (Ryanair in particular), by supporting the idea that cultural tourism is a strong niche for Malta and expanding the provision of international higher education. “In the coming years, I see the importance of having more higher education and helping to broaden and deepen the Maltese economy. There is room for sensible regulation and enforcement without losing speed and flexibility. I feel enormously privileged to live here and to have been so accepted.” 105

CC BUSINESS Author Lizzie Eldridge first came to Malta in 2005. During her time here she has penned two popular books – Duende and Vandalism. She is currently working on a play with Get Your Act Together, as part of events for European Capital of Culture. “I originally came to Malta to perform in a devised theatre performance. I loved it – the creativity, the craziness, the culture – and I was at a stage in my life when I wanted to change direction as I was tired of working in academia. So I kept coming back to Malta and, in 2008, moved here permanently. I felt it was a place where I could be more creative and that’s happened, so I’m very grateful. “I’ve been here nearly 10 years and there have been some positive changes in terms of the visibility and funding of the arts. This is partly due to inroads made by Arts Council Malta and partly, by the artists themselves. Valletta has become much more of a hive of activity, too. I lived there for six months in 2007 and, at night, the place was dead. Now, it’s much busier, particularly at the weekends, and there’s a really lively atmosphere more befitting of a capital city and particularly one that’s going to be European Capital of Culture next year. “The most negative aspect of Malta’s changing landscape has occurred in a very literal way. The manic proliferation of cranes and ongoing construction is a very visible and audible illustration of what’s wrong in Malta. Where I live, you can’t move for cranes, and while some might see this as an indication of progress, I see it as a symptom of corruption and a short-sighted scramble for financial gain. Environmentally speaking,

Lizzie Eldridge

it’s horrendous. Malta was already far too built-up when I moved here and now, only 10 years on, the speed at which new and ugly tower blocks are springing up is frightening. The lack of physical space impacts on people’s psychological space and I think that ongoing construction work – without any plan or concern for the future – is the most disturbing and worrying change I’ve witnessed during my time here. “As for my own work, I am hoping to continue writing and publishing, and I also want to keep pursuing my performance work. I’d also like to build on the current success of Vandalism as well as possibly develop projects/lectures/workshops connected to Duende. I love the ease with which you can make connections and pursue them in Malta. Because of the island’s small size, it’s

Reinhold Karner

relatively easy to become part of the artistic community. This is the side of Malta I really love. “As for improvements, I would like to see less nepotism and corruption; less ‘jobs for the boys’ mentality; less backstabbing and egotism; less short-term and short-sighted focus on making a quick buck; a clear and observable distinction between Government and artistic organisations. Beyond that we need much more concern for the environment; an appreciation for the wealth of resources Malta already has; a slowing down, a time to breathe, and a time to reflect, on what Malta wants to and can become. There’s so much rich history, architecture and culture already on this island and, in terms of tourism, Malta could take real advantage of this. Right now, the country is in serious danger of literally being bulldozed by those who can’t see further than their own moneygrabbing noses.” It was 20 years ago when success advisor Reinhold Karner came to Malta and fell in love with the island. He believes most things have changed for the better in the time since then. “Back when I moved to Mata, Playmobil’s HQ in Germany was looking for a comprehensive new and modern software suite (ERP enterprise resource planning) for its group of companies. That included Playmobil Malta, so, as the entrepreneur and CEO of my Austrian-based but multinational software and consulting company, I had to travel here. I fell in love with the island on the plane when we were still approaching, and decided to buy a house here before we even touched down! “Malta has changed a lot since then, but I believe most has been for the best. My wife and I often say that Malta has since caught up in high-speed – not least because it joined the EU. Some things that have been achieved in 10 to 15 years here took Austria over 30! “My job mostly involves doing international business from Malta, and I connect and advertise Malta in an ever-increasing volume.



CC BUSINESS I advise established or young entrepreneurs to become and to remain safe and very successful, or to reset and realign their enterprises. I really enjoy the social life and lifestyle here. I have made many valuable friendships, and I relish the climate, the sea and the food. It’s like a little paradise. In fact it makes me sad that, outside the EU, Malta isn’t very well-known. And even people that have heard of it don’t know what the island stands for. So I would love to see a clear branding vision and strategy created here – one that is completely unique. “I know I will keep returning to Malta as long as the excellent internet connection remains and air links are provided. It’s a loved second home, and I hope the upward trend will continue.” Paul Sansome is the CEO of Profile Health Group, which includes Profile Corporate Wellness - a solution for employee engagement and health, and the Wellness Hub - a global digital platform for managing company wellness programmes. He has been coming to Malta for over 30 years, and promised to one day make it his home. “Compared to 20 to 30 years ago, Malta definitely feels less isolated. Most products are now available here and online shopping is easier than ever. Of course everything evolves and there is more traffic, but it’s easy to criticise – populations grow and it’s difficult to keep up with infrastructure investment when cars are meeting population growth. “In the years to come I hope to spend most of my time working on the digital platform I run, while also enjoying the relaxing and natural qualities that Malta has to offer. I love how small Malta is, as this can be very advantageous for business. Word of mouth marketing is powerful so, when you have a quality product, word gets around quickly! “If I had to make any changes to the business scene here, it would be to encourage flexible working hours and for more people to

Andreas Wil Gerdes

Paul Sansome

work from home. There’s a lot of time wasted sat in traffic and too many people trying to catch up on their phone whilst in the car. “However, like any place in the world, your life and business is what you make of it. Every country has its problems and benefits, but if you focus on the qualities Malta has to offer, there’s very few places better in the world than right here.” Well-known entrepreneur Andreas Wil Gerdes came to Malta on holiday a number of years ago and has made the island his home ever since. Among his many projects, he co-founded the StartUp Malta Foundation with Dr David Darmanin. “When I discovered Malta I immediately found the quality of life compelling, combined with one of the best climates in the world. It’s

also an open-air museum and, combined with the people who live here, makes for a very interesting place to live. “It has changed a lot – Malta has become a more vibrant place and it has been rejuvenated by the new paradigm of people who have grown up here, as well as the new paradigm of people who have moved here. I have enjoyed watching the island grow in this way and to see how it is moving forward. “When it comes to my own work here, I plan to focus more on Malta’s core USP – its size. I believe this makes the island completely unique, and that is it the best thing about it. With this in mind, it is the foremost place imaginable to test new concepts and applications – whether to do with lifestyle or business, as well as new concepts like the blockchain. Everything can be checked here in no time, and that is very useful to the business community. “Looking to the future of the island, I believe we should empower more people to be involved in decision-making, by giving them the option to vote for things on their smartphones. We should also focus on some key improvements that are needed, including the transport network and the phone network, both of which are in pretty bad shape. “That aside, I absolutely love Malta; I love living here and doing business here. I have also found it to be a brilliant place to raise children, where they can grow up in beautiful settings and surrounded by fantastic people.” cc



04. Fermented food

From decadent brunches to good gut bacteria, Marie-Claire Grima finds out what’s got the culinary world abuzz. 01. Fusion burritos

The burrito is a mainstay of Mexican cuisine, but it works just as well with dishes from around the world. There’s the sushirrito (Mexican x Japanese), the korrito (Korean) and the kurrito, which draws on Pakistani cuisine. Meanwhile in London, the oga burrito, a Nigerian version with jollof rice, beans, plantain and meat, consists of an enjoyable mix of textures, is not too spicy and is densely packed to fill you up.

02. Dutch brunch The Dutch love their breakfast and late morning foods, from hagelslag (meaning ‘hailstorm’, essentially sugared sprinkles on buttered bread), poffertjes (small, spongy and fluffy pancakes, made with yeast and buckwheat flour) and bitterballen (crispy bite-size beef croquettes). These tasty delicacies may be tricky to pronounce, but once you try them, we guarantee you’ll understand what the fuss is all about.

03. Coconut High in protein, fibre, Vitamin C and minerals, the flesh of this hairy brown nut boosts the production of good cholesterol, improves brain function and protects hair and skin from damage. Coconut flour is also an alternative for baking, containing a whopping five grams of fibre per two tablespoons with only two grams of total and saturated fat. Not only is it glutenfree, it also lowers the body’s glycaemic index – always a good idea if you’re trying to cut down on blood sugar.

Celebrity chef and television presenter Anthony Bourdain believes that the next frontier of flavour is fermentation – the goodness of food when it starts to go bad. Fermented food has been doing surprisingly well in recent years and the culinary experts are expecting it to reach its full potential in 2018. From dairy products to vegetables like kimchi and pickles, fermented bites are excellent energy boosters that improve the digestive system with cultivated probiotics. They also possess a preservation property that helps increase their shelf life, making them an easy staple to include in today’s modern kitchen.

05. Skyr Skyr has been a part of Icelandic cuisine for over a thousand years. Similar in taste and consistency to Greek yogurt, but less caloric with only 85 calories per 100 grams, it has a slightly sour dairy flavour, with a hint of residual sweetness. It is traditionally served cold with milk and a topping of sugar, but in contemporary cooking, it can also be used as a cheesecake topping, as an ingredient in fruit smoothies or even in savoury dishes.



Pinch of Yum

06. Drinkable vinegar The value of drinking apple cider vinegar has long been known, but now new recipes are incorporating other vinegars, such as fruit vinegars or Japanese black soybean vinegar into health-conscious recipes. Furthermore, vinegars designed to be drunk from the bottle now come in fun fruit and herbal flavours, such as strawberry-balsamic, peachginger, and lemon-cayenne. The benefits of drinking vinegar include antioxidants, anticancer properties, blood glucose control, lipid metabolism regulation, and weight loss – just watch out for the sugar content to make sure it’s not cancelling out the same benefits you’re receiving from the vinegar. cc


Health Magazine

The Sugar Hit

Food and Wine


A Clean Plate




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HSBC Malta introduces new service for small businesses HSBC Bank Malta has launched a new service designed for small businesses, providing community banking services via the bank’s network of branches in Malta’s towns and villages, in addition to the latest digital solutions. The service, called HSBC Fusion, brings together business banking and personal banking in one simple solution, making it easier for business owners to manage all their financial needs. In Malta, 97 per cent of companies are small businesses, which provide employment to 34 per cent of the workforce and contribute 25 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. Research shows that the majority of these customers prefer a banking solution that is straightforward to access and enables them to manage personal and business requirements together. HSBC Fusion has been designed for

Personalised player messaging always wins One of the key aspects of the iGaming industry is being able to understand what your customers want, and when they want it. When utilising an iGaming platform which includes countless variations of bets, and hundreds of thousands of players each enjoying their favourite games, it is imperative that you provide your customers with the right message at the right time. Players have a habit of revealing much more to you than they know. Just look at the way they navigate on your site, and the actions they take relative to the games they play and the bets they place. This type of data is essential when drawing up your next marketing strategy. Did your last welcome bonus provide more new player registrations than the previous? Did your last deposit bonus backfire? Critical player data can show you what’s working best and save you money the next time you launch a new offer. This is where the AXON Gaming solution comes 112

business owners with an annual turnover of up to €1 million and borrowing needs up to €100,000. Malta is the first country to launch HSBC Fusion, a new service provided by HSBC Group. This service supports the bank’s strategy in Malta by increasing the range of services offered to business customers in the local community. Customers who are eligible for HSBC Fusion will have access to a new internet banking solution and mobile app that allows business and personal accounts to be managed through a single set of log-on credentials. HSBC has also introduced over 100 trained business banking professionals in branches across Malta and Gozo. HSBC Fusion was officially launched during a customer event held at the HSBC Zabbar

Branch, officiated by the Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat alongside HSBC Malta’s CEO Andrew Beane and HSBC Global Head of Retail Business Banking Manuel Baldasano. Attendees were welcomed by Zabbar Branch Manager Joe Cardona and his colleagues. HSBC Malta CEO Andrew Beane said, “today we are placing HSBC’s business services back in the heart of the community, under the leadership of our fantastic team of branch managers. Our new service includes an innovative range of digital solutions that make it simpler, faster and more convenient for our customers to manage their finances. In the coming weeks, our branch managers will be inviting local community leaders and business owners to experience the benefits of HSBC Fusion for themselves.” cc

into play – it streamlines the collection of player data and facilitates real-time communication between internal systems, empowering iGaming companies to increase their acquisition and retention rates through targeted marketing. Personalised messaging content is an essential tool that should be present in any iGaming company’s arsenal. Each player is unique, so no brand can afford to communicate with them in a generic way. AXON Gaming enables you to deliver optimised messaging, which increases the chances that your customers continue playing with you. Optimise your player messaging with AXON Gaming: www. About AXON Gaming AXON Gaming enables iGaming companies to track and act upon critical data feeds in real time, while automatically triggering businessrelated actions in various internal systems. This allows you to visualise and react to live data, providing you with a competitive edge against traditional BI platforms which typically analyse data on a historical basis. Additionally, AXON Gaming provides full integration of your internal systems, allowing you to compile and view data from

one central location. This leads to a deeper level of data analysis and insight to trigger real-time alerts for mission-critical business objectives. cc Email us at or call us on 2149 0700 to start optimising your Gaming operation today. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

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Vitally interested – A strong maritime industry “We are, naturally, vitally interested in the sea which surrounds us, and through which we live and breathe.” These are the famous words spoken by Arvid Pardo, when he asked the United Nations General Assembly to consider a treaty and an international agency to regulate activity on the ocean floor by establishing this as common heritage belonging to humanity, on 17th August 1967. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his declaration. Malta is geographically positioned in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. This, together with its small island economy status, ties it inevitably to the sea and to the island’s maritime sector. Today, the maritime industry plays a central role in our country. Together with Transport Malta, Government has worked tirelessly towards strengthening the maritime sector, particularly the Maltese Register. We have already seen impressive improvements, with a record number of vessels registered under the Act on Merchant

Ships. By the end of August 2017, this figure amounted to more than 8,000 vessels with a gross tonnage of over 74 million, making Malta the largest European register and sixth globally. This shows an increase of more than 63 per cent in registrations throughout the past five years. 2017 has already seen an increase of six per cent in tonnage when compared to 2016. During these past five years, the register has also made a record leap in quality, with great achievements in the superyacht sector. As of January, there has been an increase of more than 15 per cent in registrations of superyachts under the Maltese flag. This success did not happen coincidentally, but is due to the hard work carried out by Government and respective authorities, as well as full cooperation by the private industry in Malta. Malta has managed to give

these operators confidence in its stability, leading them to continue investing in our country, which investment also generates a substantial income in foreign coin. The Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects is committed to continue insisting on politics towards strengthening the position of this Register, so that more operators opt for the services offered by Malta. Arvid Pardo’s vision detailed how humanity needs to protect its natural resources; these are the politics we still hold dear to this very day. The Ministry looks forward to the exciting times ahead for this industry and towards working for further success and more A+ achievements. cc

success within this design-led sector. The brand’s focus on innovation and product design has made this possible. As a result, Boss Design offers high-quality office seating, a comprehensive range of upholstery and task seating that remain at the cutting-edge of design and at the forefront of the client’s furniture requirements. Boss Design’s unique ingredient is the ability to tailor products to suit the client’s requirements. At Oxford House, the sales and design consultants sit down and discuss collaborative projects and the development of bespoke designs with clients that are looking to invest in rebranding or refurbishment programmes.

Meanwhile, we have continued to lay the groundwork for more growth and expansion being planned for the future. As a company, we believe in the service that we offer and meeting the needs of our customers will always be at the forefront of our work ethic. cc

Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, Dr Ian Borg

Introducing Boss Design Oxford House is a multi-generational family business that has become a household name synonymous with quality domestic appliances and furniture for homes and offices. Over the years, in the office furniture department, huge success followed with the acquisition of Steelcase that creates places that support the well-being of people and enterprise. The company now deals exclusively with international flagship brands, focusing on importation, distribution and support. Every year brings along exciting milestones and achievements that are fruitful to the company’s growth. Oxford House is the result of hard work and every achievement is made in order to maintain our presence in the market. Of course this is thanks to the brands that we represent and what we believe in. Oxford House has gone from strength to strength, and this year we are introducing another new brand within the office section, Boss Design. Boss Design is the UK’s market leading manufacturer and has become a global 114

For more information on how your workplace can be designed to foster innovation, speak to the sales and design consultants at Oxford House in Mriehel. T: 2546 4000. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

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Start up strong Enthusiasm and innovation typically spring to mind when seeking to define start-ups. The combination of entrepreneurial spirit and a passion to see their project off the ground encapsulate start-ups’ potential to evolve in tomorrow’s established SMEs and corporate entities. Start-ups are also associated with a high rate of failures. Failure typically happens when an entity starts off without respect to basic business fundamentals, since no matter how creative the architecture, unless it stands on sound foundations, it risks collapsing. This is what led to the collaboration between Chamber of Commerce and BOV to come up with the Start Up Toolkit. Whilst the toolkit covers a number of areas and disciplines needed to run a sound business, the keyword underpinning the toolkit is good ‘management’ and governance. Typically, weak or lack of sound management are the key determinants in the trajectory path to failure. Management needs to be looked upon in the wider sense since the term is multi-faceted, incorporating strategic, financial, operational and other aspects needed for a holistic running of the

business, whilst ensuring the right risk return balance and business sustainability. Bankers, by definition, do give utmost importance to sound financial management. The bank is typically a stakeholder, sharing the risk with the entrepreneur, thus having a vested interest to ensure that the company has the right liquidity, effective working capital management and sustainable longterm funding to ensure its viability in the long term. Bank of Valletta is truly committed to support tomorrow’s SMEs. Thus it invested in a network of regional Centres that are fully dedicated to support small and mediumsized businesses through the provision of value-added financial services. The Business Centres are aligned to its customer-centric vision that sees the bank focusing strategically on developing long-term working relationships with its customers. Having an intimate knowledge of its clients has always distinguished Bank of Valletta. The BOV Business Centres act as hubs which provide SMEs with the necessary day-to-day support necessary for them to achieve their growth potential. BOV does not promote short-term quick fixes. Instead it offers tailor-made solutions to ensure a best fit to every business customer, whilst maintaining a prudent approach in managing

the risk factor for both the bank and the customer. As bankers, we are continuously undertaking a ‘balancing act’ – balancing our customers’ enthusiasm and dreams with their long-term interest and viability. Bank of Valletta will continue encouraging businesses to evolve and grow. The Start Up toolkit is one of the initiatives aimed at supporting businesses for today and tomorrow on a sounder footing. cc Bank of Valletta p.l.c. is a public limited company licensed to carry out the business of banking and investment services in terms of the Banking Act (Cap. 371 of the Laws of Malta) and the Investment Services Act (Cap. 370 of the Laws of Malta). Registered Office: 58, Triq San Zakkarija, Il-Belt Valletta VLT 1130-Malta

A new concept at Levantina Bistro Bakehouse in Mriehel Levantina Bistro Bakehouse opened its doors for the business community in late August, offering a Middle Eastern inspired cuisine from its base in the evergrowing office hub in Mriehel. Levantina has already established itself in Mriehel as the place to visit for a seasonal fresh salad with a difference, their in-house lamb fatayer or beef boreka pies, as well as their selection of bread items from the bakehouse. Their exquisite menu can be enjoyed in a welcoming setting, as a takeout or delivered to your place of work. The bistro and bakehouse is also offering businesses the opportunity to pamper their guests or their employees with mouthwatering in-house lunches and snacks. Not to mention their home-made cakes and pastries, which are a must-try. Levantina is also ideal for business breakfast meetings, business lunches and OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

daytime or afternoon meetings away from the office, as well as staff events and drinks after office hours. On Saturdays they depart from their weekday menu and offer a speciality breakfast and a varied lunch menu. Chef patron Silvana Callus Mizzi is inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi, a London based restauranteur, celebrity chef and cookery book writer. She believes that the smell, colours and taste of food make customers happy, so the team at Levantina strives to be customer-focused.

Silvana studied at Tante Marie School of Cooking, which is co-owned by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. cc Levantina Bistro Bakehouse is situated at Triq In-Negozju, Mriehel and is open for business from Monday to Saturday between 8.30am and 4.30 pm. They may be contacted on 2144 0149 or 7937 7159 or check them out on their Facebook page @levantinastore or on



A state of flux Visual artist Rupert Cefai shares his journey and artistic process with Sarah Micallef, detailing the fluidity with which he approaches the themes, techniques and subjects of his work.

Abbatini II


aving a vested interest in art from a young age, visual artist Rupert Cefai started his professional career as an interior designer, gradually shifting his focus from design to painting. “My father was a cultural organiser within the Department of Culture,” Rupert says, counting himself fortunate to have been exposed to art, in the form of exhibitions and cultural events, from his childhood. “I always remember having art as one of the subjects I was interested in at school, though I never felt that being an artist was an option. I was brought up with the idea that you study art because it’s good for becoming an architect or a designer – so most of my studies were directed towards the design


aspect,” he explains. In fact, Rupert went on to spend almost 15 years working as an interior designer, eventually reducing the hours he spent on interior design and focusing more on his art. “One day, I thought, I’ve had enough of running after tilers, it’s time to take the plunge. That was about 10 years ago,” he smiles. Under the tutelage of Alfred Chircop and Harry Alden, Rupert studied painting “the traditional way” as he calls it, rather than by attending a specific course. “I also knew Vincent Apap very well, and he indirectly

had a big influence on me and my work,” the artist says. For him, a university course is something that should come at a point in an artist’s progression in which “you know exactly what you want to do, and you can stop and think”, though he prefers to explore particular themes and topics through projects, which often culminate in his exhibitions. “I take one topic and focus on it deeply over a couple of years. It gives you time to think, and time to look at things in a different way. These projects provide good opportunities to evolve as an artist.”

“I take one topic and focus on it deeply over a couple of years. It gives you time to think, and time to look at things in a different way.” 119


Photo by Alan Carville

“I’m equally interested in someone taking part in a procession and an old woman hanging her clothes every Tuesday morning from her balcony in Valletta.” In fact, asked whether there is a recurring theme to his work, Rupert jokes, “I change my themes as often as I change my socks!” Explaining that he prefers to explore different themes regularly, he lets me in on his current focus. While religion seems to play a prominent role in his current work, his focus is actually on the ritualistic aspect. “I’m equally interested in someone taking part in a procession and an old woman hanging her clothes every Tuesday morning from her balcony in Valletta,” he explains, adding, “I’m fascinated with any kind of ritual – the human being finding solace or comfort in creating patterns of behaviour.” Apart from his interest in human behaviour

Il-Hasla II

when it comes to subject matter, Rupert maintains that another fascination lies in exploring to what level of abstraction you can go with a painting or an object, until people stop recognising what it actually is. Speaking of this balance that stands on the line between the real and the abstract, he says, “when it comes to technique, I like to play with mistakes. There’s a lot of dripping in my paintings – classically, it’s a mistake, but I like for my paintings to develop in a way that I’m not completely controlling what’s going on.” “I’m not really interested in the detail, though if you’re far away enough from the piece, you can see detail – if you go closer you start missing it. Like with this piece,” he says, Pjazza Regina


motioning to a nearby unfinished canvas, “if you stand close to it, all you see is smudges, but if you move away, you begin to see a crowd forming.” Asked whether his artistic technique has evolved over the years, Rupert maintains that it has, and will undoubtedly continue to do so. “What I’m doing now will definitely have changed in a few years’ time. I don’t know where I’ll be going. Still, I won’t stop producing what is within the parameters of classical work,” he says, pointing to a realistic self-portrait. “The technique does evolve, but it also reflects the subject I’m working on. I use technique not as an end in itself – I see it as a vessel to send a message, so the technique has to change according to what that message is.” As with every professional artist, Rupert has a defined creative process when it comes to producing his pieces. “In the morning, the first thing I do is spend a couple of hours browsing art websites. I try to expose myself to what’s happening in the art world – I believe that is a must. The actual process of creating an artwork usually begins with an idea, but that doesn’t mean that the idea is tied to one particular piece. I then study and sketch a lot, especially when it comes to the human figure. At a certain stage when I’m close to finishing a piece, the artwork takes over – that’s the fun bit, after a lot of hard work!” he laughs. Rupert also has a unique way of beating that fear that so many creatives will recognise: the blank canvas. “I’ve been doing this for most of my life, but I’m still scared of a blank canvas. The way I tackle it is by having 15, 20 and even 30 pieces already started. OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017


Photo by Alan Carville

I plan a number of paintings, start them off and then re-visit,” he reveals, with a caveat, “and I always finish them.” Hard-pressed to name artists that he looks up to, Rupert exclaims, “way too many!” On an international level, he says, “there are so many, from Rembrandt to Rothko – whose work is one of the very few that made me cry – and even contemporary artists like Lucian Freud and Hackney. Locally, there are several, like Ċensu and Willie Apap, Alfred Chircop, too many.” I go on to ask what has been the highlight of his artistic career so far, and the answer is one I can’t say I’ve received before. “This interview,” he says. As I begin to laugh, he’s quick to quantify, “I’m not joking! It’s good to have the opportunity, every now and then, to sit in front of someone and discuss what stage you are at.” Having exhibited work in Rome and London, the artist maintains


“I see technique as a vessel to send a message, so the technique has to change according to what that message is.” that it’s not the personal successes that he considers the highlight, maintaining, “I will never accept that something that already happened is my highlight, because that will put me in a position that I need to top, and leads to the question: what if I don’t? Rather, the accumulation of all that has happened so far, with the good parts and the bad – being in this interview is thanks to all that, so this becomes a highlight.” Offering a word of advice to aspiring artists, Rupert affirms, “listen to what every older artist has to say and ignore it.” Smiling, he explains that while you have to respect Il-Monsinjuri


and try to understand the older generation, technological advancements have made the reality in which young artists operate today completely different. “Ultimately, the most important thing for an artist is to be passionate about their work. If you’re not passionate about it, and that includes spending a good amount of time working, you cannot become a good artist. It’s not easy, and today, life is easy – there are many other things you can do very easily, but art is not one.” Turning his attention to upcoming plans, Rupert reveals that 2018 is set to be a busy year. “As Chairman of Fondazzjoni Kreattivita, preparations for Valletta 2018 are taking up a substantial amount of my time, although the real work there took place in these past three years. On a personal level, next year I’m also planning to have a major exhibition,” he maintains, revealing that the idea behind it will be identity in all its forms. Admitting that it is not a subject that hasn’t been explored, the artist believes that it is also a theme with which you can never reach a conclusion. “Identity is always in a state of flux. As a nation, for example, what we understand by being Maltese now is not what we understood by it 20, 50 or 100 years ago. Identity is a topic I’ve always been interested in, both from a broad point of view, but also in terms of what being an artist means. Sometimes you need to stop and take stock, and ask yourself – is this really what I want to do? Is it what I’m meant to do? What relevance does it have? You need to question yourself all the time. The answers will change, but at least for today, I know where I am, or rather, I know where I’m not – which probably is more important.” cc OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

The Commercial Courier October/November 2017  

The Official Business magazine of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise & Industry since 1947.

The Commercial Courier October/November 2017  

The Official Business magazine of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise & Industry since 1947.