Economic publication proposes long-run vision for Malta

Crises mark transitions and turning points. It is exactly at these turning points that crises are productive. This is the moment when we can remove the aftertaste of catastrophe and use it as a “decisive turning point”, as per the meaning of the Greek word krisis.

Seed Consultancy, a business and economic advisory firm based in Malta, have published a report and summarised presentation entitled Agile – Perspectives on Malta’s Economy post COVID-19, which seeks to not only analyse the impact of COVID-19 but more importantly to present a number of research-based recommendations and perspectives of this new normal.

JP Fabri, Partner at Seed said that, “We intentionally stayed away from quantifying impact as there are too many unknowns for any plausible assumption to be made. Instead, we focused on a multi-disciplinary approach to understand the true impact and changes COVID-19 will bring about. We adopted a research approach and supplemented our internal analysis through data and insights. We interviewed thirty-six industry leaders and social partners. We also developed and ran an economic sentiment index to gauge expectations. To get a more holistic perspective, we asked fifteen experts and thinkers for their opinion on the long-lasting effects of COVID-19 from their area of specialisation. Our analysis then turned to drawing up a number of recommendations, including a long-run vision for the country.”

Nicky Gouder, Partner at Seed added that, “This publication is our contribution to the current national debate. As Seed, we believe that this crisis can indeed allow us to chart a new path. The seriousness of the threat posed by COVID-19 demands us all to do whatever it takes to weather the storm. Yet, our biggest contribution to the future is to learn lessons from our recent past and to change where necessary. We believe that agility is going to be the name of the game. Only the employees, businesses, governments and societies who are agile will survive and thrive in the future.”

The main conclusions of the Agile report are as follows:

Malta is well-positioned to respond, despite the challenges.

With a contained pandemic and an open-economy, Malta too is bound to be impacted adversely. The recent performance of the economy, primarily in public finance, has allowed Malta to build a fiscal buffer giving Government room for intervention. However, various sectors are going to be impacted differently.

Conscious of the negative impact, employees are displaying flexibility.

The report includes a purposely built economic sentiment developed together with Onest, a local data-science company. The results clearly show that the pandemic is affecting the financial position of individuals and the longer it takes, the worse the expectations are. However, one can denote a sense of flexibility of employees with respect to working arrangements, including pay packages, in order to support their employers.

The long-lasting effects of COVID-19 will shape a new society.

There is no doubt that this pandemic will affect humanity and society in ways that go beyond the economy. Consumer trends will change, individual well-being will be impacted, technology will play a greater part in our life and various other domains will come to terms with a new normal. The publication also presents a collection of curated articles from some of Malta’s leading academics and thinkers in their respective field giving their thoughts on a new post-pandemic society.

As this is transitory, the time is right to focus on a long-term national vision.

The right response to this crisis requires a multi-stakeholder and intertemporal approach. We believe that everyone, including employees, firms, social partners and government have to be agile in dealing with the crisis. We present a framework for firms to navigate the COVID-19 challenges as well as additional measures Government should drive in the immediate term with a focus on tax and legal revisions. However, our main recommendation on the basis of the wide consultation with business leaders and social partners, is the need to rally behind a long-term vision for Malta. We present a set of foundational elements, key enablers and strategic pillars based on the analysis and conclusions of the preceding sections.

We are living in unchartered territory. As we are currently in a crisis and survival mode, it would be a waste not to take this opportunity to focus on the long term. We believe that we have an opportunity for us to take stock of the past, learn our lessons and shape a new future.

This publication aims to contribute to the national debate and to stimulate business and policy leaders to embrace the future and to start working towards a much-needed recovery plan that is anchored around a long-run vision for Malta.

Agility is key. It will determine the winners in a post COVID-19 world.

The report is available to download from the Seed Consultancy web site.

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John de Giorgio

John is the founder of Shireburn Software, a software products company based in Malta and a number of other businesses. Entrepreneurial in nature, he looks at a business process and identifies ways in which process improvement and technology can be married in a practical way to provide value. He is passionate about helping communities and individuals through his work with Rotary International. He is a keen sailor and loves travelling, food and wine.