Although the financial industry has been thriving in Malta for a number of years, today Malta lacks the trust, credibility and reputation that it needs in order for the industry to continue to thrive, Opposition leader Bernard Grech said.
Grech was speaking as part of a conference organised by FinanceMalta.
Malta was placed on the FATF’s grey list following shortcomings on, amongst other things, the prosecution of tax crimes – something which will detract from Malta’s attractiveness as a financial jurisdiction.
Grech said that the Opposition is willing to work with the Government to help Malta get out of the grey list, as the country currently lacks any desirable status to attract investment.
“It is important and paramount to understand and appreciate that the financial services industry, is one of the pillars of the Maltese economy. This didn’t happen by chance. It happened because the National Party in government decided to open up for it,” Grech remarked.
The Opposition leader said that in years gone by, the country made sure that this sector became successful as it built the industry on the country’s “trust, credibility, and reputation”, apart from the reputation of “multiple professionals and all the financial sector employees.”
However, the Opposition leader said that this is something which needs to be addressed today.
“What we have today is, unfortunately, the lack of these three things, and this is what we need to start addressing as soon as possible. Through trust and credibility, we can get back the reputation that Malta deserves,” he said.
Grech remarked that in order to get there, the country needs to not only look at ticking all the boxes from a technical perspective, “but we have to also convince our international partners, professionals abroad, and also countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and the rest, that Malta has to and should be trusted,” he said.
The Opposition has been working “since day one”, as it “offered [its] full support and collaboration” to the Government, Grech said. “This has to be the way forward: a bipartisan approach to gain back credibility. But to go there, we need more information,” he said.
“This is why we asked the government to publish all the correspondence between the government and the FATF, and this is why we asked for a parliamentary debate and committee to be called on the this issue: because we want to help”, he said.
However, the Opposition leader remarked that the Government is rather unwilling to accept their help in this regard. “Unfortunately, the Government is still reluctant. We want to be on board but the Government has to let us be on board,” he said.
The Opposition leader also remarked that the Opposition met a number of social partners to discuss the FATF grey listing in order to listen to their views and concerns.