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EY to present Malta Attractiveness Survey at national conference

EY survey is a ‘valuable tool’ for investors

Ernst and Young country manager Ronald Attard (third from left) flanked by senior manager Simon Lee Barberi (left) and Malta Chamber’s director-general Kevin Borg, with Finance Malta head of business development Bruno L’ecuyer (first left). Almost 100 foreign-owned businesses have been interviewed to gather views on Malta’s business friendliness. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Ernst and Young country manager Ronald Attard (third from left) flanked by senior manager Simon Lee Barberi (left) and Malta Chamber’s director-general Kevin Borg, with Finance Malta head of business development Bruno L’ecuyer (first left). Almost 100 foreign-owned businesses have been interviewed to gather views on Malta’s business friendliness. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Ernst and Young’s Malta firm is to reveal the results of its highly anticipated Malta Attractiveness Survey at a national conference on Thursday.

Pressure on labour costs could start to become a challenge

Almost 100 foreign-owned businesses in various sectors have been interviewed to gather their views on Malta’s business friendliness. Findings will focus on pharmaceuticals, financial services, ICT and online gaming and game design, e-commerce, and manufacturing, among other sectors.

“This is our eighth Malta Attractiveness Survey but it is the first time we will present the results at a national event in collaboration with other bodies,” Ernst and Young Malta country managing partner Ronald Attard told The Sunday Times.

“The survey started out as a humble idea involving about 40 interviews with a view to drawing up a report. At the time we had been surprised with the attention it had received but it was encouraging to see the findings quoted in official country presentations.”

The conference, which will be held at the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry’s seat in Valletta, will be opened by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, after which Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat will give an address.

Malta Chamber president Tancred Tabone and Mr Attard will welcome the participants.

Ernst and Young will also be highlighting the results of the Eurozone Attractiveness Survey and Eurozone forecast that were released earlier in this quarter.

There will be presentations by Oxford Economics’ senior economist Carl Astorri, Ernst and Young Malta managers Chris Meilak and Simon Lee Barberi, and Julian Mamo, chairman of the Malta Chamber’s Services Economic Group.

The proceedings of five sector-specific breakout sessions will be presented during a panel discussion in the afternoon.

The sessions have been organised in collaboration with the event partners – the Malta Chamber, Finance Malta, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority, and Malta Enterprise.

Mr Attard explained that the survey had evolved over the past eight years from its original primary focus on manufacturing to ever more specific research into important industries like insurance, banking, asset management, trusts, and gaming in an effort to reflect the modern Maltese economy, where foreign direct investment increasingly revolved around financial services and knowledge industries.

Malta has been consistently praised over the years for the standards and flexibility of its talent pool, its fiscal regime and its political and economic stability.

In some sectors, pressure on labour costs could start to become a challenge, however. This year’s survey will give a clearer, detailed picture of Malta’s competitiveness thanks to a new breakdown of sectors and industries.

In recent years, the demand for accountants and IT professionals has superseded supply, and some manufacturers have, in recent months, reported difficulty in recruiting personnel, which had stalled their growth.

All sectors have embarked on drives to encourage students to consider careers in these areas and specialise in specific disciplines earlier in their studies.

Finance Malta’s head of business development Bruno L’ecuyer said the survey was a valuable tool. Feedback from investors gave a consolidated picture of the current state of affairs, and bodies like the public-private partnership tasked to market Malta’s financial services sector could research issues further.

Malta Chamber director-general Kevin Borg added that the information provided by the study was a tangible way to complement word-of-mouth recommendations, including testimonials by Malta Enterprise. In this way, potential investors had more complete information on which to take decisions.

Mr Attard said survey participants, Malta Chamber members, financial services practitioners, and professionals and entrepreneurs who have Malta’s attractiveness at heart, such as policy-makers and institutions, would do well to attend.

“We take the initiative to carry out this exercise as our way of contributing to the big picture that makes Malta attractive as an investment location,” Mr Attard explained. “It involves a considerable number of man hours and investment, but the end result also serves to showcase our capabilities as a firm.”

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