Malta must move fast on EU cash for digital transition or be left out

Malta must move fast on EU cash for digital transition or be left out

Malta’s ‘Blockchain island’ calling card must also have the public cash to support such an industry and skilled jobs, says Peter Agius

Malta must act quickly and tap into new EU funds for digital transition, the Nationalist Party candidate Peter Agius has warned.

On Wednesday the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted on its position for an EU Budget for 2021-2027, which will also include a new €9.2 billion fund for the digital transition.

The fund includes €2.5 billion fund for Artificial Intelligence projects in EU member states.

“Government is still stuck with the old idea of EU funds being primarily cohesion funds,” Agius said, warning that cohesion money will suffer a 7% decrease in the coming budget.

“The EU budget already invested heavily in Malta’s infrastructure. So it will be difficult to argue for the same levels of EU funding we got for 2004-2020. We should match Malta’s ambition with this EU trend and put our mouth where the money is: digitialisation, Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity.”

Agius said he was concerned that Malta’s 2019 budget do not signal the political will to tackle the challenges of an AI and Blockchain industry, or the need to upskill youths for these industries. “I expect the Maltese government to come forward with proposals to make the best of the new digital EU funds. Only if we are ambitious enough in this regard we can ensure that Malta can continue to grow in Europe.”

Agius said that while the Maltese government was using Blockchain as its calling card all over Europe, it had not yet tapped into the big EU money that could take the island forward on technology.

“We have already had a massive injection of structural funds that include roads infrastructure money… that means we will not get that same amount of money on these projects again. But countries like France, Germany, Latvia and Estonia are already laying their claim to this new budget.”

Agius said that Malta needed the cash to stimulate its research and development capability for new technology.

“We’ve seen robots pondering Maltese citizenship and the Prime Minister addressing Jack Ma in China on the future of AI. The PR side of things is important. But we must go further: if the movers and shakers of AI are looking for a friendly jurisdiction, they will need a Place where public money and capital availability abounds for concept development and market deployment. For that, Malta needs to tap into EU funds.”

Agius also warned that attracting digital, A.I. and Blockchain companies to Maltese shores will require a massive investment in the skills of Maltese youths to tap into the 30,000 jobs these industries can offer.

“Finding the right skills is the employer’s biggest challenge in Malta – investing in education is a win-win formula. The next EU budget will also include a €700 million fund for digital skills.

“If the research goes to other countries, we’ll only get those who want our tax benefits, not the movers and shakers. We need to retain the market’s geniuses with good RnD finance.”

Read full article on Malta Today here.

No budget for small businesses

No budget for small businesses

On Monday I was eagerly following Professor Scicluna’s speech, awaiting innovative Government proposals helping our SMEs to tap into EU opportunities. I was hoping that the Government would respond to the global digital revolution and propose ways to assist our smaller businesses in Malta to go digital faster. After all, the European Commission just announced a special fund of a whopping 9 billion euros precisely to help businesses reap the benefits of digitalisation.

I was disappointed. The proposed budget does not rise up the challenge of small businesses in Malta, facing an increasingly digitalised world and the natural market hurdles inherent in an island economy. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing outrageous in the budget per se (short of a money laundering sub-heading without a governance heading). It is rather what is not there which gets me worried. I see this budget as a series of schemes and mini measures carefully designed to please this or that other sector, but without an overall strategy for Maltese business to move forward.

As one business owner told me in a chat just after the Minister’s speech, when it comes to business this budget is a ‘A little pepper here and a little pepper there, but where is the steak?’. I had to be honest with the gentleman, there is no steak my friend. Short of two measures to help family businesses with the transfer of ownership to the next generations and the reported progress on the Maltese investment Bank, the budget speech leaves Maltese businesses waiting for more.

Let us take a closer look to demonstrate my argument. One good thing about this budget is the formalisation of Government efforts to turn Malta into a blockchain island. Blockchain technology is indeed an important vector for development of our services industry and the Nationalist Party has and will be promoting its development in Malta. The annual budgetary excercise was however an opportunity to put this development at the service of our Maltese businesses, opening blockchain potential to smaller businesses to consider for their business or marketing operations. Instead, the government’s approach is limited to attracting the investment of foreign companies into Malta and the promotion of blockchain abroad through the new initiative techMT. This is all well and good, but where’s the share of Maltese businesses in that?

Same thing goes for the promotion of start-ups. The government announced an interesting start-up Visa to attract foreign investment by promising foreign start-ups. Thumbs up for this, but how about the Maltese start-ups? How long shall they tolerate seeing foreign owned investment being boosted with reverse discrimination at their expense before they pack their bags and hear to London, Paris or Frankfurt?

This is the reality of Maltese entrepreneurs I encountered in the last months since I am campaigning for the MEP elections. We have loads of local talent in the services industry and in manufacturing. A good chunk of the people I am meeting are however telling me stories of how they feel emarginated or discouraged in their own country. This blockchain island cannot forget its children in its effort to open to the world. We can do both, and both efficiently.

Maltese businesses voted overwhelmingly for EU accession. They sensed that membership in a 500 million strong consumer market was their natural guarantee. In some regards the promise did not deliver up to expectation. Too few of our companies have extended operations abroad. We can do much better in this regard, and EU tools are there to be exploited to this effect.

In some cases we are risking putting a bad name to the EU, as in the case of the recently introduced GDPR. I met shop owners who have not sent a promotional email fearing hefty fines for breaches of data privacy. Government saw the new rules coming for the last 3 years in Brussels. It failed to raise awareness of their application in Malta.

Our businesses deserve better. They, and not government, are after all the most important driver of employment and prosperity on these blessed islands.

Read full article on the Malta Independent 

Corporate Dispatch asks Malta MEP Candidate Peter Agius: What is your opinion on the budget? How do you feel about the budget? Was it positive or negative? Why?

Corporate Dispatch asks Malta MEP Candidate Peter Agius: What is your opinion on the budget? How do you feel about the budget? Was it positive or negative? Why?

A budget as I understand it must be a government strategy detailing the direction of leadership for different sectors of society and the economy in the future, by facing challenges and seizing opportunities. In this sense, this wasn’t a budget, but a series of schemes that leave a little impact here and a little impact there. From a social perspective, the small increases announced do not cover the increase in the cost of living. Taking basic food products as an example, this increased from €5 to €10 per week for the average family. Hence, the €2.33 increase can hardly compensate.

See full article : Corporate Dispatch asks Malta MEP Candidate Peter Agius: What is your opinion on the budget?

We need to apply EU rules better’, PN candidate tells GRTU

We need to apply EU rules better’, PN candidate tells GRTU

Malta needs to apply EU rules better by planning well in advance before they enter into force, not as we are doing in the case of the GDPR, the EU Regulation on data protection, Peter Agius, PN candidate for the European Parliament election, told GRTU representatives.

Agius met the GRTU managerial board, President Paul Abela and Chief Executive Officer Abigail Mamo who explained the role of the GRTU, representing more than 7,000 Maltese businesses with a particular focus on SMEs.

See full article here




Il-Brexit irid jiftħilna għajnejna ġo Malta. Għandna bżonn alleanzi ġodda fl-Ewropa.

Il-Brexit irid jiftħilna għajnejna ġo Malta. Għandna bżonn alleanzi ġodda fl-Ewropa.

Il-Brexit irid jiftħilna għajnejna ġo Malta. Għandna bżonn alleanzi ġodda fl-Ewropa. Sound up 🔊🔊 Intervista fuq NET FM ma' Jerome Caruana Cilia

Geplaatst door Peter Agius op Vrijdag 19 oktober 2018