Malta Post-COVID - a long term vision for the island

Local consulting firm Seed publishes its research report on Malta's economy

A local consultancy firm recently published a research report proposing a long-run vision for Malta - “Agile. Perspectives on Malta’s economy post-COVID-19". 

They explain that their publication seeks to not only analyse the impact of COVID-19, but more importantly to present several research-based recommendations and perspectives for this new normal. A “decisive turning”, they note, as per the meaning of the Greek word krisis. 

Who are they?

Seed are a local consultancy firm who tout themselves to be “big enough to deliver, yet small enough to care”, and have taken on the task of putting together a thorough report on the wider implications on the Maltese economy due to the global COVID-19 outbreak. 

The authors of the publication are JP Fabri, a Founding Partner at Seed, Glenn Fenech, a Senior Consultant at Seed, Dr Stephanie Fabri, an economist and lecturer with the Department of Management at the University of Malta, Prof Vincent Cassar, an organisational psychologist and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy at the University of Malta, and Dr Jonathan Spiter, an economist and lecturer within the Department of Insurance at the University of Malta. 

What is in the report?

The report presents a multi-disciplinary analysis of COVID-19, and apart from looking at the economic effects of the crisis, it aims to shows the deep and structural changes this pandemic will bring about. This was done by bringing together 18 social partners and 20 business leaders, and compiling 15 expert contributors along with a survey with 385 individuals which collectively brought about a deep look into the short-to-medium impact and long-term possibilities of the “black swan” event. 

An apt metaphor considering that it has been a century since such an event has taken placealthough, admittedly, with considerably less loss of life. 

How are we being impacted?

The happening has had effects of significant magnitude and has forced the government to respond in an unprecedented manner with regards to both social and economic policies. 

On the economic front, Malta’s recent economic performance gives the Government room to manoeuvre and intervene. However, the report notes that, recently, economic sentiment has dampened and will be exacerbated by the pandemic. 

385 people also participated in a survey which gave a more holistic look at how the situation is being perceived, and was developed in conjunction with Onesta local data research company. 

The survey found that both local and foreign individuals have taken a hit, learnt valuable lessons, and will consequentially alter their behaviour to better prepare themselves or make concrete changes to their lives. Amongst these changes, we see 17% of respondents saying that they will save more post-COVID-19, 40% of foreigners saying that they will leave Malta and 68% of respondents saying that they will not return to their pre-COVID-19 routine immediately. 

Other interesting discoveries include factoids such as 41% of respondents expecting their financial position to be worse of, 27% have taken on salary reductions, 62% of foreigners struggling to pay rent, 65% of employees feeling ready to be flexible, and 70% postponing their travel plans. 

Where do we go from here? 

Looking ahead, the recovery from the crisis requires a collective effort, and recovery can only take place if everyone from employee, to firm, to Government plays their part. 

Employees will have to be flexible, improve knowledge & skill-set, and retain their work ethic. 

Firms must approach the coming months in phases – Survive, then Stabilise, then Succeed. 

Seed even built a toolkit to support business leaders in navigating the challenges through 6 steps – Prioritise people & safety; identify support measures; reshape strategy adopt resilience-building; transform business models; embrace digital transformation. 

Government will have to continue playing a key role through policy initiatives revolving around fiscal, administrative, monetary, and legal measures. This includes changes to taxation to support economic revival and further broken down to target companies, start-ups, and people. 

The authors conclude by insisting that “agility in collective action is going to be critical in ensuring that the recovery happens”. 

“The future is ours to shape. Now is the time to start shaping it.” 

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