Like many financial businesses based in Malta, EXANTE was glad to attend a recent conference where Finance minister Edward Scicluna spoke about the healthy state of the financial industry on the island.
The minister told financial services practitioners at a Chamber of Commerce seminar that the government was committed to protecting the competitiveness of the Maltese financial sector, and work towards further developing the sector in terms of quality. Discussing the way the Maltese banking sector developed over time from the 1980s to the present day, Prof. Scicluna noted that the sector came under external pressure due to politico-economic reasons several times, with the most recent pressure coming in the wake of the Cypriot collapse only a few months ago.
He said criticism of Malta's financial services sector was primarily aimed at attempting to draw parallels between Malta and the ailing Cypriot banking sector, which collapsed due to critical exposure to Greek bonds. "However the truth prevailed," Scicluna said. "It is now accepted that the Maltese and Cypriot banking systems have little in common, and that the speculation that has been circulating is unfounded."
He referred to several reports published by established international institutions like credit rating agencies Standard & Poor's, Fitch, Bloomberg, Nomura Global Services, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission (EC). "These have all examined the Maltese banking model in great detail, and determined not only that our model is strong and robust, but that risk of contagion from the Cypriot crisis is low and that speculative parallels are unfounded." Scicluna added that the new government was committed to the success of the banking sector, and to ensuring that the competitive of this sector is safeguarded, as well as that of other related sectors, such as financial services and iGaming. "At the same time, we have already been very willing to cooperate with any country that seeks to exchange information on a mutual basis," he added, noting that the FATCA agreement currently being negotiated with the United States is an example of mutual exchange of information.
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