A Blockchain marvel discovers Malta’s solid regulations

Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 7th December 2018

Having all data in Blockchain may close doors for certain professions but proudly open vacancies for cybercrime busters even though in theory hackers cannot access data through a central point of vulnerability, on the understanding that Blockchain networks are nearly impenetrable.

With the onset of Blockchain technology, there is disruption. Soon, the world will greet a proliferation of Artificial Intelligence which empowers robotics, machine-learning and Blockchain systems that make verification by auditors and registration of certain traditional contracts redundant.

Readers may be jolted by this assertion and think that this prediction is nothing but scare-mongering. Yet, the way Blockchain technology is structured is said to revolutionise the method how records are kept and maintained.

Naturally, having all data in Blockchain may close doors for certain professions but proudly open vacancies for cybercrime busters even though in theory hackers cannot access data through a central point of vulnerability, on the understanding that Blockchain networks are nearly impenetrable. This may be the case, yet the concentration of data in distributed centres attracts cybercrime.  Cybercrime’s footprint is increasing each year both in its sophistication and frequency.

Traditional defence strategies such as hardening of firewalls and intrusion prevention systems are no longer sufficient. Away from the curse of cybercrime and its nucleus of nefarious hackers, let us focus on the positive side.

The onset of Artificial Intelligence (A.I) coupled with the power of machine-learning will open new horizons in the next decade. There is no denying that it is a complex and ever-changing technological context. This interaction will be highly productive in creating new business opportunities which will be baptising the fourth Industrial revolution.

One may question why the fuss about Blockchain. Certainly A.I techniques are not new, although we are hearing about them as they are becoming more mainstream. Following the birth of the internet, twenty years ago we have seen and waited quietly for the next miracle in business development. It has arrived with the debut of Blockchain and its derivatives nine years ago. Many are purporting this to be the next miracle since the design of the ubiquitous steam-engine.

Taking the bull by the horns, Malta was quick to embrace the revolution and has promulgated laws to regulate it. But the ecosystem is still in the initial stages. For Malta, the drive for diversification of economic pillars is a good thing but this quest needs to be fully funded and supported by stakeholders. Obviously, to do this we cannot gild the lily and expect the green shoots to appear after the first rain.

The MFSA and FIAU are circulating for consultation with practitioners a tail of rules. These rules place a heavy onus on practitioners before accepting Blockchain clients and hold them responsible as a subject person to report to FIAU any suspicious transaction within three days of its occurrence.

There are other rules reining the governance of VFA agents and issuers, making them fully responsible to monitor clients before they are accepted to vet any business that may potentially lead to money laundering or financing of terrorism. The license fees payable to become an accredited agent or an issuer are not cheap when compared to other jurisdictions.

Making this an exclusive club reflects the way how authorities are raising the bar. Every firm needs at least three officials with a pass in an exam (apparently patronised by Institute of Management in tandem with a law firm – Ganado Associates) as a prerequisite to becoming accredited as a VFA agent.

Last month over 300 candidates sat for the exam but only a small percentage managed to pass. Certainly, starting on a high note will help the authorities shift the chaff from the wheat and avoid the apologetic story when licenses granted to three local banks, ended up being investigated for alleged money-laundering activities.

Another ingredient for the success in this sector is the attraction of technical advisers assisted by a number of crypto-friendly banks. The latter are conspicuous by their absence. Therefore, together with an eminent platform of rules, the government is expected to help in upgrading the levels of computer science and maths in schools.

Quality education is the building block of future generations of IT savvy students. Having raised the legal foundations to regulate Blockchain one must maintain momentum by recruiting more IT staff and A.I experts within the regulators.

Anything less will fail – it is like opening a grand pub with no beer. It goes without saying that more funds are needed to multiply the efforts in our university to research machine and quantum learning. It was a bold step when Malta decided to become a crypto and Blockchain hub in Europe and rightly so, government has sponsored a mega conference – Delta – to help promote this vision.

This has put Malta on the map and attracted the attention of giants such as Binance, Okex, and BitPay.

To help broaden the path for new business PKF Malta visited the headquarters of the Social Good Foundation Inc. in Tokyo, Japan – a company whose ICO raised an impressive $30 million from overseas private institutional investors. This foundation is headed by Soichiro Takaoka. and is using A.I to conduct research in the investment industry.

Simply put, it consists of algorithmic trading in which results are improved by analysing a variety of big data to discover investment targets, such as shares that are likely to increase in value.

The founder of Social Good Foundation says that it aims to become the Amazon or Rakuten of the Blockchain era. Soichiro Takaoka has an impressive biography. Having graduated B.A in Tokyo University, he started his career at Mitsui & Co., Ltd, where he was engaged in Overseas Investment Review, New Business Development, and M&A in the IT business sector.

Soichiro was engaged in overseas investment review, new business launches, and M&A in the information industry sector. He formed the Ayumi Trust Group (formerly the Abraham Group) in 2005. This is an IT media business pioneer, targeting the wealthy class. He then established and managed a Hong Kong securities company licensed under HKSFC (later sold).

Readers may ask, ‘What is the secret of success of Social Good?’ The answer is that it holds funds in reserve so as to maintain the value of the cryptocurrency and establish credibility. The novel idea behind this cryptocurrency is that it allows the holder to receive cashback when shopping at participating stores, part of which is automatically donated to charitable organisations.

The Foundation submitted its business model patent application regarding a cashback system utilising cryptocurrencies in Japan and the United States early this year.

At the end of April, the number of Social Good holders has surpassed 30,000 people worldwide. The image of Social Heart is one of a neutral fund rating organisation; it is positioned to use big data to carefully select superior funds worthy of long-term investment by the wealthy from a huge volume of fund data.

If Malta can lure such mega-asset managers given that it has enticed giants such as Binance, then one augurs that more Blockchain platforms are persuaded to weigh their anchor in our sheltered crypto harbour.

As always, fortune favours the bold.

George Mangion

Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 7 December 2018
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 041

Malta Budget 2019 PKF Economic Update & Highlights

Malta Budget 2019 PKF Economic Update

Main highlights from the Budget Speech for 2019:

  • Main economic indicators for 2018
  • Health Care – Investment in mental health care and additional services planned at Mater Dei announced
  • Environment – Preserving it for future generations
  • Enriching’s Malta’s competitiveness
  • Anti-tax avoidance – Compliance with EU Directives
  • Social measures – assisting low-income earners
  • Social Security issues – eliminating negative discrimination
  • Pensions – Increases per week, incentives for taking up of private pension schemes
  • Education
  • Housing & Property – assistance for acquiring a property for those aged over 40
  • Transport Infrastructure – addressing vehicle emissions
  • Gozo – addressing the double insularity
  • Local Business Environment – inspiring additional business investment

More details outlined here: Budget 2019 PKF Economic Update

PKF Malta officials attend trade delegations in Bulgaria, Poland and Japan

Published on Malta Independent on Thursday, 9 August 2018

PKF Malta Senior Partner George Mangion recently traveled to Sofia where he attended the EMEI Tax meeting which is organised by PKF International (PKFI).  Being a network of independent firms, PKFI is constantly on the lookout to organise various conferences and events for its members and non-members.

After Sofia, PKF Senior Partner, George Mangion attended a trade delegation to Poland. This trade delegation was organised by the Malta and Poland Chamber of Commerce.  During this visit, Malta and Poland Chamber of Commerce signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen business ties in the interest of respective members.

The mission included a well-attended high-level Poland – Malta Business Forum which was addressed, amongst others, by the Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, Chris Cardona and Hon Marcin Ociepa on behalf of Jadwiga Emilewicz, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology of Poland and later followed by a B2B meeting between the Maltese and Polish companies. During these B2B meetings, Mr. Mangion met with various Blockchain and virtual currencies organisers.  The next visit was to a business accelerator called The Heart. This is an organisation which offers assistance to corporations and start-ups to grow and innovate.

During the same week, PKF Poland celebrated their 25th company anniversary.  They celebrated it with various business partners and as well as with other PKF firms.  PKF Malta was invited for this anniversary where they enjoyed a Jubilee Gala with a concert and dinner.

 

Mr. Mangion together with the Head of Legal, Dr. Marilyn Formosa, and Asia Business Development Executive, Ms. Yolanda Dong also visited Japan with a business delegation organised by Trade Malta jointly with the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta, the Hon. Dr. Joseph Muscat between the 30th July and 3rd August 2018.

Published on Malta Independent on Thursday, 9 August 2018

MGA Publishes Directive on the Calculation of Compliance Contribution

Source: MGA
Published on 13/08/2018

Directive on the Calculation of Compliance Contribution
In exercise of the power conferred by article 7(2) of the Gaming Act, 2018 (Cap. 583 of the Laws of Malta), the Malta Gaming Authority is hereby issuing the following directive in order to clarify the manner in which applicable fees are calculated in terms of the Gaming Licence Fees Regulations.

Part I – Preliminary
1. The short title of this Directive is the Directive on the Calculation of Compliance Contribution 2018.
2. This Directive is applicable as of the date of entry into force of the Gaming Licence Fees Regulations.

Part II – Definitions
3. (1) In this Directive, save as provided in sub-article (2) of this article, all words and phrases shall have the same meaning as prescribed in the Gaming Definitions Regulations or the Gaming Licence Fees Regulations.

(2) In this Directive, unless the context otherwise requires:
“Shared progressive jackpot” means a prize pot shared across multiple licensees and operators, which prize pot increases by each additional contribution by players of the relevant licensees and operators.

Part III – Basis for the Calculation of Gaming Revenue
4. In calculating the compliance contribution due in terms of the Gaming Licence Fees Regulations, licensees shall refer to the definition of gaming revenue within the same regulations, and, for the avoidance of doubt, licensees shall refer to the below formula in calculating gaming revenue:
(A + B) – (C + B) = Gaming Revenue
A = totality of real money wagers1;
B = totality of bonus wagers and other player financial incentives, as per the definition in article 8 of this Directive; and
C = totality of withdrawable winnings, which for the avoidance of doubt excludes bonus winnings or other winnings that are not instantly redeemable.

1 This includes real money deposits or winnings held in the player’s account but does not include any amounts falling within the definition of B. However, items falling under the definition in article 8(ii) shall still be included under A, if, after they’ve been received by a player (at which point they are required to be listed as B), they are subsequently wagered by the player.

5. In calculating the compliance contribution due in terms of the Gaming Licence Fees Regulations, licensees operating Type 3 and Type 4 gaming services shall refer to the definition of ‘charge’ within the same regulations, and, for the avoidance of doubt, licensees shall calculate the ‘charge’ as follows:

a. If the licensee’s revenue is derived as a part or percentage of the player’s contribution, then the ‘charge’ shall constitute that part or percentage of the totality of real money wagers by players playing in terms of the MGA licence after deducting any player financial incentives wagered which fall under the definition in article 8(ii) below; and/or
b. If the licensee’s revenue is derived in any way other than the above, then the ‘charge’ shall constitute the gross portion of monies that are economically retained2 by the licensee after only deducting any player financial incentives wagered which fall under the definition in article 8(ii) below.

6. The licensee shall, upon request by the Authority, provide data relating to:
a. the totality of real money wagers;
b. the totality of player incentives, which include jackpot contributions and bonus wagers and other player financial incentives;
c. the totality of real money winnings, excluding bonus winnings or other winnings that are not instantly redeemable; and
d. jackpot winnings constituting a seeded amount, and/or jackpot contributions listed as player financial incentives.
7. Real money winnings also include winnings awarded other than in fiat currency denomination, such as movable or immovable property, trips, tournament entry fees, virtual goods and currency amongst other things, which prizes shall be valued according to the lower of the market value at the time of the winning and the price paid by the licensee to purchase said prize, and in the absence of a purchase price, the deemed value shall be the market price at
the time of the winning:

Provided that the licensee may, at any time, be requested to provide a breakdown of all winnings not paid out in fiat currency and included as part of real money winnings, including a description of each item, and the appropriate value:
Provided further that incentives given to players which are not directly related to game winnings, such as prizes awarded as part of a marketing scheme, shall not be included as part of ‘real money winnings’ for any purposes of this Directive.

2
For the avoidance of doubt, the direct cost of tickets incurred in pursuit of the provision of lottery messenger services shall not be considered part of the monies economically retained by the licensee. This reasoning shall not extend to direct costs of tickets incurred as part of a risk hedging strategy for a secondary lottery offer.

8. For the purposes of this Directive the phrase ‘bonus wagers and other player financial incentives’ is restricted to include player incentives (such as promotional gaming credits, free bets, bonus bets, bonus wagers and other forms of player credit or player credit equivalents) where:
(i) the use or consumption of the player incentive by the player is effectively equivalent
to a real money wager by the player in that it may directly result in real money winnings that are instantly redeemable by the player 3;
or
(ii) where the player financial incentive is, in the hands of the player, immediately
equivalent to a real money winning which is instantly redeemable by the player,
at the time when they are used or consumed by the player (for items falling under (i) above) or received by the player (for items falling under (ii) above
4) as the case may be, and the term ‘bonus wagers’ and / or ‘player financial incentives’ shall, wherever used in this Directive, be read and construed accordingly.
Provided that where a licensee offers jackpots containing a portion of the prize which is seeded capital, the portion of the jackpot prize that is seeded capital shall, if won, be included as part of the totality of real money winnings, and in the case of a shared progressive jackpot, if won, the licensee shall only deduct the portion of the seeded capital which it contributed directly itself, if any. Provided further that any portion of real money wagers that is contributed towards a
local jackpot or a shared progressive jackpot shall be excluded from real money wagers for the purposes of articles 4 and 5 of this Directive but shall be included as part of player financial incentives for all purposes of this Directive. Similarly, therefore any local jackpot and shared progressive jackpot winnings derived from the contribution referred to in the preceding sentence shall be excluded from real money winnings for the purposes of articles 4 and 5 of
this Directive:
For the avoidance of any doubt the reference to ‘any portion of real money wagers that is contributed towards a jackpot or a shared progressive jackpot’ above shall not be interpreted to refer to any amounts of the real money wagers which are payable by way of royalties or by way of any other fees due to any other person and shall only be interpreted to refer to any portion of the real money wagers contributed to the prize pot.

9. No portion of the real money wagers, or of the gaming revenue that is attributable to any portion due in terms of gaming tax, VAT, income tax, corporate tax and other taxes, shall be excluded from the calculation of the totality of real money wagers, or the totality of gaming revenue, as applicable.

3For example, a bonus wager, a free spin or a free bet, whereby any winnings derived therefrom would be directly and immediately redeemable by the player.
4 Following this, any use or consumption of the financial incentive by the player within the context of a wager, shall be equivalent to be a real money wager as per the definition of A in article 4 of this Directive.

10. There shall be no deductions allowed other than those specified in this Directive.
Part IV – Minimum Compliance Contribution

11. The minimum compliance contribution shall start accruing on the day when the relevant game type approval is issued, as applicable.
12. With respect to the payment of the minimum compliance contribution in terms of regulation
6(1)(a) of the Gaming Licence Fees Regulations, the minimum amount payable on the twentieth (20th) day of that month commencing immediately after the month in which the licence period commences shall be deemed to be the minimum stipulated in the provisos to regulations 3(2), 3(3), 3(4) and 3(5) of the Gaming Licence Fees Regulations, pro-rated accordingly for that specific month, and for the avoidance of doubt, the full minimum amount shall not be due until a full licence period elapses.

13. Without prejudice to the provisions of regulation 27(3) of the Gaming Authorisations Regulations, the compliance contribution shall continue accruing until the day that the licensee informs the Authority that following the applicable termination procedures, the gaming operations under the purview of the applicable licence or approval have halted, and that the Authority is able to confirm the same:

Provided that if the amount due is the minimum compliance contribution, it shall be pro-rated accordingly according to the number of days of that particular month during which the gaming activity was still operational.

14. Licensees approved by the Authority as being start-up undertakings shall refer to regulation 9 of the Gaming Licence Fees Regulations, and to the Directive on Start-Up Undertakings (Directive 1 of 2018) for the applicability of the compliance contribution towards the same.

Source: MGA
Published on 13/08/2018

Questionnaire on your locality

We welcome you to take this short survey regarding your locality: http://bit.ly/YourLocality

The goal of this questionnaire is to help us understand better the citizens’ views on their locality in Malta’s central region. This information will be used for the Social, Economic and Cultural Regional Report recently commissioned to #PKFMalta and the Sociologist working on the research, Dr Valerie Visanich by Central Region.

The 13 localities falling under the Central Regional Committee: Ħ’Attard, Ħal Balzan, Birkirkara, il-Ġżira, L-Iklin, Ħal Lija, L-Imsida, Tal-Pietà, San Ġiljan, San Ġwann, Santa Venera, Tas-Sliema u Ta’ Xbiex.

We thank you for your cooperation. Read more & share: http://bit.ly/YourLocality

MCAST – A PKF study on vocational training

Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 1st December 2016

Readers may not be fully aware that according to section 14 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, EU countries are responsible to provide for the content and organisation of national vocational education and training (VET) and that in turn it is the EU’s role to complement their actions. EU policy typically seeks to address common challenges such as ageing, skills deficits and global competition, with the goal of improving employability and skills. Thus we see how VET has a pivotal role to play in the Europe 2020 strategy.

Regrettably, Malta comes with the lowest percentage of upper secondary school students enrolled in vocational education which, at just 13%, compares poorly to the EU average of 48%. We also have a high rate of early school leavers – these are defined as students who have passed through the entire system, and despite this, still have not learnt the necessary skills. Observers lament that in the past, we embraced a tendency to view education from a purely utilitarian angle and this may have been one of the causes for a subdued preference for vocational training.

It is reassuring that the education ministry has recently consulted experts from Finland where schools have consistently come in at the top in international rankings for education systems, and this change of attitude is most welcome as it represents a reversal of an earlier decision under previous administrations to phase out trade schools. It is now replaced by a policy to gradually re-introduce vocational training embracing all government schools.

This change in policy was recently announced by education minister Evarist Bartolo, who said that the country’s educational system needs to be drastically changed to bring out traits such as creative thinking and confidence in all students. Such qualities improve the ability to express one’s self. He said that the educational system is too focused on exams and does not prepare students for life. Bartolo added that the system does not even prepare students for work as not enough is being done to develop students’ communication skills and ability to work with others. He exclaimed that we are preparing students for exams but not for life or work.

He admitted that there are a number of problems ahead but the government is trying to slowly make the necessary changes. Shooting from the hip, he admitted that the system was also unfair on teachers as they also feel that it did not bring out students’ full potential. Critics have answered back that the minister has been in office for three years and eight months so they expect a quicker turnabout on reforms but of course it is better late than never given that the proposed system will take another three years. It was therefore an opportune time for PKF to undertake a pro-bono study on students attending various institutes at MCAST to assess and report on merits of vocational training. Such an exercise was performed as part of PKF’s corporate social responsibility policy and naturally could only proceed after obtaining clearance and full cooperation of educational officers at MCAST.

The report houses two separate but related works, being a tracer study and a progression study.

The Progression Study delved into the learning pathways of MCAST students during the past five academic years. Amongst other matters, it studied student progression up the various levels, and whether such students remained in the same field upon progressing or whether they changed path.

The Tracer study had the objective of assessing the success of former students who graduated MCAST courses (including VET ones) during 2015, in their chances of finding employment to match their training.

It also assessed the success of VET courses organised by MCAST considering that in the past the country’s trade schools, which provided such courses, had been stymied by the fact that they were used as a dumping ground for students who had failed in the standard academic system.

Under the proposed reform once students reach Form 2, apart from core subjects they will be requested to choose additional subjects in three different paths. These include an academic path, a vocational path or one based on applied learning.  There will be an option to mix and match different paths. When fully implemented such reforms are expected to result in fewer lecturing hours, fewer exams and less homework and more time for leisure and physical activity. For example, one may suggest that if schools stay open after 2pm (say for an extended four hours covering extra curriculum activities) there will be less congestion in traffic since fewer school buses are needed to transport students home as working parents can easily collect children (if they wish) after finishing work.

Back to PKF’s Tracer Study, its main objective was to determine whether a selected group of former MCAST graduates had succeeded in becoming gainfully employed in a field relative to their chosen area of study or were engaged in further or higher education. The target population for this study was made up of all students from levels 1 to 6 who left MCAST in July 2015. All MCAST institutes were considered. Further aspects of relevance that were considered include whether subjects learnt were applicable in their present daily employment and whether the length of time spent studying at MCAST bore any direct proportionate relationship with landing better jobs.

For this exercise, all MCAST institutes in levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 across all institutes, including Gozo, were considered in a total population comprising 870 students, out of whom a total of 328 students (163 males, 165 females) provided complete and valid replies, leading to an overall sample size of 37.7%. A telephone survey was undertaken to collect data from the above-mentioned students, and as can be expected all responses were treated in strict confidence.

In the case where students could not be reached by telephone, an email with the link of the survey was sent so that this could be answered online, thereby broadening the avenue for data collection. Upon receipt of responses these were analysed and data cleaning was performed to proceed to a second stage when a statistical study was carried out. Data was collected via calls placed to the entire cohort of former students (and by email when calls were not successful) with the aim of gathering the following information through posing a concise yet thorough question set.

Objectives were to identify: 1) Where they are working now (including what designation + job description) in this case students were asked to indicate their job description in order to compare the same with the respective course followed, 2) Whether they feel that what they learnt at MCAST is being used in their current job, 3) Whether what they learnt is related to the field they are now in or not, 4) Whether they are employed on a full/part time basis, and 5) Whether they do any self-employed work/entrepreneurial activity.

On the other hand, the Progression Study analysed the progression path of former students from the past five academic years, namely 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 to check if these are furthering their studies, and if so, within which institution. The methodology involved asking questions and obtaining answers for questions in accordance with this delineation:

A) To establish student progression: Level 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4 (main focus), 4 to 5 and 5 to 6 or otherwise

B) Whether such student remained in the same field upon progressing or whether he/she changed completely (this was done for Level 2 to 3 progressing students)

C) How many students are leaving MCAST

D) How many students enrolled and exited MCAST in the span of a year

E) Grouping exercise of all entrant level 3 students

F) Grouping exercise of all students entering and exiting at same level

G) Success rates also considered repeater years that appear as successfully completing year but would be a repeating year so separate grouping in this instant carried out.

In conclusion, both studies provided an interesting insight on movements of students and exemplified the merits of vocational training while it revealed a number of valuable pointers to the career progression of students across various institutes. For further information and to acquaint themselves better with the works, readers may contact Dr Marilyn Mifsud at info@pkfmalta.com.


Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 1st December 2016
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 041

Maltese Passport Ranked 9th Most Powerful in the World

Malta has the ninth ‘most powerful’ passport in the world, on par with Iceland, according to this year’s Passport Index.

The index is drawn up by combining the ranking for visa-free travel, together with visa-on-arrival ratio, with the country’s score as attributed by the UN Development Programme Human Development Index.

Malta was given a score of 150, falling two places from last year. Despite being ranked in the ninth position, there are actually 27 other countries with passports that are more powerful, as a number of countries were given the same ranking.

Over the past two years, Malta has issued almost 700 passports to wealthy individuals in exchange for cash, generating at least €200 million.

The most powerful passport in the world remains Germany’s, with a visa-free score of 157, followed by Sweden in second place with a score of 156.

Sharing the third spot were Finland, France, Switzerland, Spain, South Korea and the UK, each given a ranking of 156.

Iraq and Pakistan were at the bottom of the rankings, at 93rd and 94th place respectively. Afghanistan has the very worst-ranking passport in the world, coming in at the 95th place and a ranking of 24.

Published By Malta Chamber on 29th November 2016

New trend in healthcare – medical tourism

Article written by Ms Dominika Eichstädt and Mr Danilo Mosebach

 

People who are traveling to another country to obtain medical treatment there, are called medical tourists. That actually is not the name for the people, but it is a moving action. Traditionally, people would travel from less-developed countries to higher developed ones which are big medical centers, to get the treatment over there, which is most often not available in their own cities. The recent trend is different. People go to third-world countries from big cities, with a well-developed healthcare system to get treatment there, in order to save money or get even a treatment which is not legal in the home country.

However the phenomenon in Europe and around the world of traveling abroad because of medical treatment is not new. Notations show that already thousand years ago the Greeks pilgrims traveled from all over the Mediterranean to small sanctuaries with the faith to get healed by their gods. Also in the 18th– century people went to England, to visit SPA centres, because they were places with supposedly health-giving mineral waters, treating diseases from gout to liver disorders and bronchitis.

Today the patients essential travel because of: Cosmetic surgery, Dentistry (general, restorative, cosmetic), Cardiovascular (angioplasty, CABG, transplants), Orthopedics (joint and spine; sports medicine), Cancer (often high-acuity or last resort), Reproductive (fertility, IVF, women’s health), Weight loss (LAP-BAND, gastric bypass), Scans, tests, health screenings and second opinions.

 

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Source: www.Slideshare.net Presentation about Medical Tourism from Malko 29, Page 6

 

High cost of health care, long queues for certain procedures, the advancement in other countries according to their technology and standard of care and also the simple possibility of international travel are all factors that are leading people to medical tourism. Besides the fact that people in the UK need to wait weeks for certain procedures, they need also time for saving significant amount of money, which is the main reason for Americans to go abroad for treatment. Eventually many surgery procedures in foreign destinations cost much less the price than they cost in their home countries. For example, a liver transplant that costs $300,000 in America, costs about $91,000 in Taiwan. The waiting time for a hip transplantation of 26 weeks in Canada seems also to be a veritable reason for looking for some alternatives abroad.

 

The trend seems to escalate within last decade and expansion of EU zone, when a big surge of people were looking for medical treatment in other countries, especially in dental services. Since then a lot of things has changed. The market is getting bigger and bigger. Formerly they have been not so many possibilities, just a few treatment centers and just some destinations to choose from.  Local specialists did not seem to be as much exposed to international patients as today.

Currently all 28 EU member states have declared themselves as a medical tourism destination, offering multiple choices of treatment. In this effect, in 2011 an EU Directive on cross-border healthcare was passed in and came into force in every country of the European Union in October 2013. The Directive clarifies patients’ rights and entitlements to cross-border healthcare and establishes standard rules for reimbursement of healthcare received in another European Union country. It also supports the patient’s choice and provides high-quality and safe healthcare. Supposedly one of the main achievements of the Directive is the possibility for the patient to make an own decision about their healthcare provider.

 

In this picture you can see several steps of seeking treatment with medical tourism.

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Source: www.Slideshare.net Presentation about Medical Tourism from Malko 29, Page 15

 

When considering EU members, it is not just Germany with its great healthcare system and a huge knowhow in cardiology (heart surgery) or the Czech Republic with great prices for cosmetic surgery, it is also Malta ( EU member since 2004) which is creating a new economic-medical niche.

As a Mediterranean oasis, as it was called in the past, Malta is even working more on the reputation to get the prime position for medical treatment. The Islands itself are promoting their well-educated specialists, who have very often a great medical practice from UK or United States. Besides that, the medical standards are in accordance with the European requirements. Malta specifies itself as a very highly ranked in terms of health practice and the ability to give treatment from the simplest to the most complex with excellent appointed private clinics, no waiting lists, the best location and fair prices.

One of the private clinics in Malta (Sliema) is the St James Hospital, which provides a comprehensive range of healthcare services. Furthermore, Maltese Government is already planning to involve private investors to open new private hospitals and a medical school in Gozo.

Summarising, medical travel is not just within the European members, all in all every year about 8 million patients from all over the world decide to get treatment in a different country. About $24-$40 billion is being spend in this area. The top destinations worldwide are Costa Rica, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and United States. But it is not just about saving costs, even though this is one of the biggest bodies in medical tourism. The factors such as availability and the quality of healthcare are the ones with the highest rank among patients.

At this statistic you can see the costs for the medical procedures from three of the most popular destinations in compare to the U.S.

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New Malta Residence and Visa Programme – MRVP

malta newIn 4 weeks’ time Identity Malta will open its doors to the processing of applications for Malta’s newest residency product, The Malta Residence and Visa Programme (MRVP), enacted through Legal Notice 288 of 2015.

A certificate issued by Identity Malta in accordance with these regulations shall entitle the beneficiary of such a certificate and his registered dependants to reside, settle or stay indefinitely in Malta, provided that the required conditions are met.

  • Amongst other salient requirements this programme requires a non-refundable administrative fee of 5,500 Euro, which in a successful case is then deducted from the 30,000 Euro contribution that falls due before completion of the process.
  • There is a Qualifying property requirement that can be satisfied by either purchasing or renting immovable property in Malta. When purchasing the minimum value is set at €270,000 if situated in Gozo or the South of Malta and €320,000 if situated in Malta. If renting, the minimum rental value is of 10,000 Euro if situated in Gozo or the South of Malta or 12,000 Euro is situated elsewhere in Malta. Such immovable property must be held for a minimum five year period.
  • Finally, there is an investment requirement in the minimum value of 250,000 Euro, in instruments prescribed by Identity Malta. Similarly, these too must be held for a minimum 5 year period.
  • Importantly, applicants must have a minimum annual income of €100,000 or capital of €500,000, to be evidenced and held for the entire duration of certificate holding.

Beneficiaries of the Global Residence Programme shall be allowed to apply for the issuance of a certificate in terms of this program subject to satisfying all the additional eligibility requirements of these regulations. PKF Malta holds the necessary license and qualification as Accredited Agents under the new program and are at your disposal should you be interested in making further enquiries.


Author Dr Marilyn Mifsud, PKF Malta
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 041

For direct enquires kindly contact Dr Marilyn Mifsud LL.D on mmifsud@pkfmalta.com or call on +356 21484373.

Europe – Insurance Opportunities for US firms

Europe – Insurance Opportunities for US Firms Workshop

Finance Malta with support of PKF Malta are organizing a conference which will focus on what Malta can offer to US Captives seeking to tap into their European risks. The benefits of setting up in Malta as the domicile of choice. Stakeholders from the Insurance market including MFSA and MIMA have been invited to participate, whilst a line-up of confirmed prominent speakers specialized in the US market, include individuals with years of experience in addressing the needs of US Captives with European exposures, with all its connotations of tax, domicile choice, solvency II, PCC structures etc.

Solvency II and ILS have dominated insurance agendas in Europe and beyond for the past 24 months. At this unique event, delegates will explore the impact of ILS on corporate finance and the opportunities arising in onshore European locations, such as Malta. Captive owners and service providers will also be invited to consider the advantages of utilising an EU domicile to write European risk and impact Solvency II may have on fronting arrangements.

The event is organized by Captive Review in collaboration with Finance Malta and PKF Malta.
 Confirmed speakers INCLUDE…
  • George Mangion Chairman & Senior Partner, PKF Malta
  • Simon Camilleri, General Manger, Bee Insurance Management Ltd
  • Kenneth Farrugia, Chairman, Finance Malta
  • Hugh McCormick, Partner at Duane Morris LLP
  • John Perry, Partner, PKF Littlejohn LLP
  • Thomas J. Riggs, Partner, O’Connor Davies
  • William P. White, Managing Principal, Acuity Strategic Consulting

 Anna Golis

For sponsorship opportunities or to attend this event, kindly contact Anna Golis, Research & Development Manager via email agolis@pkfmalta.com or call us on +356 21 484 373.

Entrance is free of charge. Register here: http://bit.ly/CaptiveInsuranceUS