When one assesses the marked increase in foreign investment that has taken place in the last

four years, there is really one particular outcome: Malta is considered a safe haven, not only

economically and politically but also with regard to security.

 

Foreign investors who come to these islands with their families, their experts and their

enterprises know only too well how easy it is to integrate here. People feel safe and welcome

everywhere, thanks to a typical, relaxed lifestyle that characterises the Maltese. They are also,

however, conscious of the effective changes that have been successfully carried out to make

the bureaucratic machine work better and more efficiently.

 

We have seen, over the past four years, new companies and new businesses from such places

as the United States, Italy, Germany, and the Middle East among others, setting up bases

here. Why? They could easily have chosen other places ripe for investment, probably with a

better infrastructure and definitely a larger labour market, but Malta’s safe and stable

conditions offer a unique advantage. Hence the current achievement.

 

The issue of safety and security is taken seriously by any potential investor. Investing one’s

emerging or successful enterprise into a new market is always a very sombre affair and only a

thorough consideration of the chosen country’s economic, financial and political

environments can suffice. That Malta has witnessed this remarkable shift in foreign

investment fortunes must be attributed to the positive attitude of an administration determined

to streamline its whole apparatus while retaining the high level of optimism on the part of

both the investors and the working population.

There have been countless pan-European surveys and official EU statistics confirming this

highly beneficial trend which, in return, has resulted in a record low unemployment rate

verging on full employment, less taxes, better social benefits, increased infrastructural

activity, and a “feel good” factor all round that contrasts sharply with the current mood on

most of the Continent.

Malta’s tiny proportions belie her potential, but the present economic success is all an

accumulation of wisely introduced changes and initiatives carried out in an atmosphere of

safety and security. This is hugely important considering the global threat from international

terrorism and increased  jingoistic stances on the part of new administrations, parties and

politicians all over the world.

 

The Maltese are rightly proud of their natural way of doing things. They are welcoming in

attitude and willing to learn and to gain new talents and experiences, as we have seen in the

financial services and eGaming sectors The influx of more than 30,000 foreign workers only

reflects the dimension of our economic growth, more so when one remembers the many

thousands of Maltese workers who, in the not so distant past, had to migrate in search of jobs

and security for their families. That this barren island, bereft of any resources, other than its

people, has been able to accomplish this somersault in fortunes is a major topic of active

discussion in economic and social fora across the European Union.

 

The safety and security factor, therefore, will continue to make a difference. Malta's crime

rate is not worse than it has been for many years , and well within the European average –

excluding terrorist acts. Malta normally has to cope with petty crime and  unfortunately the

occasional serious  crimes – murders mainly – but today’s social media, with their global

netspread, tend to amplify these reports and , in so doing, project the wrong image of an

otherwise proven safe haven. Such sad occasions and unrealistic portrayal can have an impact

on the Maltese tourist industry and the thousands of jobs it provides to Maltese and foreigners

alike. Those who do so are only dirtying the very water they drink from ! Hand in heart we

can truly say that crime  in Malta is not rife, so it's wise to keep things in perspective.

There will always be those, in their minority, who are politically motivated to blow things up

– excuse the pun -but facts soon put them in their place. Malta’s economic success will

continue to depend on the dexterity of her population, the common sense of her

administrators, and a positive reality that goes beyond obsolete political and ideological

affiliations.

 

Investors’ trust: it all begins with being a safe haven, something that not every country can

claim. In today’s confounded world, industrial achievement, economic growth and

sustainable development offer a complex challenge to any market, but putting the investor’s

mind at rest, as to the safety and security of the place for  future enterprise, plays a highly

significant part. The odd murder or some other major crime may indeed be the temporary

highlight on FaceBook or Twitter chatter, but it is the general stability – social, political, and

economic – of the land in question that finally holds sway.

 

Malta has had her acid test. Her strong, meditated plan of action to attract foreign investment,

culminating in the present high level of success, goes back decades , and thanks to different

governments.  The lean periods were made up for by the significant ones, thanks mainly to

routinely safe and secure conditions.

 

The Maltese certainly deserve the right to want to keep their safe haven, a reality that needs

to be understood and appreciated by all concerned, including the politicians.  Cutting our

noses to spite our faces for political exigencies is not on. We have always had our differences

and we will continue to have them, as happens, after all, elsewhere in the world, but not at the

price of this most precious of privileges that we have enjoyed since independence: safety and

security.

Citizens expect their governments to keep them  safe for reasons which go  beyond attracting

investment. Reasons which have to do with keeping our families, our  children, our quality of

life within a safe haven.

As politicians we owe them this peace of mind. As citizens, let us not underestimate what we

have.

THE MALTA INDEPENDENT 24.02.17

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