‘Maritime industry is often underestimated, if not completely overlooked’ – MMF CEO

Kevin J. Borg, CEO Malta Martime Forum
Kevin J. Borg, CEO Malta Martime Forum

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 September, 2021 at 9:29 am by Andre Camilleri

Malta’s Martime Forum has been calling upon stakeholders to take action upon challenges the sector is facing. Speaking to Dayna Camilleri Clarke, CEO, Kevin J. Borg explains the forum’s upcoming budget proposals.

How do you anticipate the 2022 Budget will aid the maritime industry? 

The Malta Maritime Forum hopes that the forthcoming Budget will support operators in the maritime industry to meet current challenges and obligations being expected of them by supporting them in building the necessary resources and capacity.  In fact, in light of the multiple sources of uncertainty affecting the industry, the need for operators to build the necessary muscle has never been more apparent.  It is pertinent to mention here two urgent challenges, namely:  Climate Change and Environmental considerations in the light of the EU’s new Fit for 55 plan and the Maltese Government’s own Low Carbon Development Strategy – both of which will invariably have a bearing on carbon footprint limits and targets which are bound to impact maritime operators’ operations

Secondly, innovation and digitalisation which maritime operators need to embrace by necessity rather than by choice, as a means to render their business models more:

  • economically, environmentally and socially sustainable;
    • digitally prepared and orientated
    • resilient to shocks;

whilst supporting their:

  • innovation and innovation processes;
    • scaling-up process and access to the international markets;
    • access to finance and EU funding
    • learning and skills development and capacity building

Consequently, the Forum is proposing that the 2022 Budget earmarks specific funding support available to all forward-looking economic operators willing to embrace these future challenges in the global context.  It is proposed that direct or indirect funding support is made available to encourage take-up of tangible climate change/energy-efficiency initiatives and/or competitiveness enhancing measures through concrete innovation and digitalisation initiatives

What has the Malta Maritime Forum done to prepare for the 2022 Budget? And what role does the maritime industry have in Malta’s economy, do you believe this is being recognised enough?

Through active communication with its members covering all aspects of the industry, the MMF continuously seeks to identify the needs and aspirations of the economic players which it represents.  This year, it has documented its findings and submitted its proposals to Government.  These submissions follow hot on the heels of the presentation of another policy document by the MMF.  In fact, last July, it presented a maritime centred Electoral Manifesto to the Leaders of Malta’s main political parties in anticipation of the next General Election.  These initiatives were taken as part of the Forum’s mission to serve as a maritime cluster and a common platform for the maritime industry for the purposes of influencing national maritime policy and facilitating communication between Industry players and the country’s policy-makers.

The MMF feels that the maritime industry is often underestimated if not completely overlooked.  The MMF regrets the fact that funding opportunities for maritime operators are far more limited relative to other industries although the challenges and regulatory demands are equally – if not more – onerous.   Consequently, the MMF is now demanding more concrete support to the development of the maritime industry through its specialised and dedicated cluster in light of (i) the ranking and importance of Malta’s maritime industry at a global level and (ii) its systemic strategic and economic importance. 

What educational opportunities do Maltese people interested in entering this industry have?

The MMF also made proposals related to the promotion of skills and competences required in the maritime industry within the national educational programmes.  The MMF recommended better alignment of the various initiatives in the education sector by local providers concerning Maritime studies into one cohesive unit with a view to build synergies and consolidation.  In this regard, it also called for the accreditation of courses in the Maritime sector to be aligned to the national EQS programme whilst rendering maritime studies eligible for sponsorship opportunities/grants and inclusion within the MyJourney programme.

- Advertisement -