Cryptocurrencies, robotics and AI will dominate 2019

Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 14 January 2019

Malta just about climbed the hill of blockchain and must now scale the mountain of AI, a sector in which US tech giants pour billions of dollars in research and development.

Last year, the government was advised to take the bull by the horns and with the assistance of technical advisers rushed the Malta Digital Innovation Act together with a framework for virtual financial assets.

This was pioneering work, hoping that Malta will succeed (as it did in the remote gaming sphere) to be a leader in blockchain and its offspring,  the cryptocurrency regime.

Some say that Malta has taken the bull by the horns and plunged ahead in the sensitive area of virtual currency trading when virtual currencies were at their peak (Bitcoin peaked at $20,236) even though larger countries such as China, India, and EU countries were banning it. But of course, it is all a matter of the early bird catches the worm.

This year, while Bitcoin is making a shaky climb closer to $4,000, the entire industry of cryptocurrency is still reeling from hitting relative new lows. Since the start of the year, the number one cryptocurrency by market capitalisation is down nearly 80% since peaking in December 2017.

For some, the falling price of Bitcoin has raised the alarm and led to widespread selling out. This spurs negativity and a soured mood towards crypto and blockchain-based assets.

Yet hope springs eternal, since, at a recent Crypto Summit held in London by Bloomberg, panel speakers seemed to suggest that, while there’s no denying the immediate outlook for cryptocurrency is shaky, the industry is just experiencing a temporary setback. They hope it will eventually see a rally in the market this year.

Speaking on the panel, Chief Investment Officer at CCL Investment Management James Bevan gave hope to investors who have continued to stick with crypto through the falling market year.

This view was confirmed by Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the CEO of Binance. In his opinion, the market for cryptocurrencies has a promising future, and the year 2018 was merely a correction after the excessive growth that occurred during 2017. In particular, the strategy and business philosophy sustaining Binance have not changed at all; in fact, CZ noted that the company’s expansion plans are now more aggressive and structured, offering more services to a larger public.

Binance not only focuses on the use of current technologies but is also working to build a better future by investing in start-ups that do not have the necessary resources to begin but have great potential to help the ecosystem in the future. Given the level of innovation, security and digital functionality instilled by the technology of cryptocurrency, the industry as a whole has established a precedent pointing that the way forward for 2019 is more innovation and research.

Malta just about climbed the hill of blockchain and must now try scaling the mountain of AI, a sector in which US tech giants pour billions of dollars annually in research and development.

Quoting Forbes, it remarks that prospects for sustaining global competitiveness are now directly tied to the industrialisation of AI. AI and machine learning are predicted to reshape manufacturing, energy, transportation, and financial management. Countries that can successfully cultivate a culture of disruptive innovation will be strategically positioned to lead in the 21st century.

Alongside traditional manufacturing, the world is seeing a rising wave of innovation that has the capacity to transform existing markets and value networks. In particular, consider the application of approaches from big data, machine learning, and AI. All these forces have the power to process, analyse and utilise this data with the potential to transform healthcare, addressing major global challenges in the prevention, detection, and diagnosis of disease.

By contrast, governments that resist AI will find themselves facing a daunting future. It is welcoming to note that the EU has developed a funding initiative to help SMEs in the field of robotics and innovation. The funding is capped at €200,000 per each successful application and is part of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Mindful of the legal and technical minefield that lay ahead, the MFSA called for experts to help design and draft parameters leading to a safe framework and good governance to face such challenges. It is an open secret that government is keen to be seen helping innovation and would like to see Malta becoming a jurisdiction that attracts talent from all over the world.

But readers may ask how can Bitcoin become mainstream unless fintech is attracted as well. We have just lost three private banks that closed last year and no effort should be spared to attract more members to the banking community. It is always a case that banks and monetary institutions are wary of challenges set by virtual currencies but like the internet, which was resisted in its early days, the DLT revolution is here to stay. Just ponder how, since we left the gold standard, central banks run billions of transactions in fiat currency which are not backed by any intrinsic value, yet we blindly trust such paper currency.

We know that following a process of quantitative easing practised in the EU and US, this has seen the printing of billions of paper currency by central banks to calm the markets and wipe off excess liquidity. Holders of fiat currency hold no qualms to trust in its exchange value. How does blockchain technology try to solve this dilemma? The answer is blockchain deciphers the trust issue.

It is undoubtedly true that last year, cryptocurrencies have had a very volatile history so caution among investors has set in. But we cannot stand and wait for the next rally. It is encouraging to see Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, at his year-end greetings, wax lyrical about Malta wanting to jump-start the process to regulate ostentatious topics such as research within AI and the Internet of Things, in an all-encompassing regulatory framework. This way the unassailable vision of a progressive Malta will become a reality and the entire island gains.

George Mangion

Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 14 January 2019
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 041

PKF greets a land reclamation dream

Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 21 December 2018

During a business trip to Singapore, I was fascinated by success in many sectors notwithstanding the fact that the country possesses no mineral wealth. Singapore is roughly twice the size of Malta but houses over six million citizens in a densely populated area. Singapore has a GDP per capita of $93,900, while in Malta, the GDP per capita is nearly half.

It comes as no surprise that over past decades Singapore has invested heavily in land reclamation including a massive Freeport and construction of international airports. So finally, Malta is contemplating going the same route by using the massive tonnage of debris expected to be generated from the Gozo tunnel towards land reclamation.

As can be expected, the subject of land reclamation is resisted by environmentalists and NGOs who militate against it saying such measures will upset the ecological, scientific and archaeological habitat amid other cultural values. Meanwhile, it follows that due to Malta’s size, its growing population density and burgeoning tourist sector any political announcements to encourage land reclamation are welcomed by property magnates.

Others claim top priority should be given to social housing. Of course, this is what the Housing Authority is doing – that is inviting developers to come forward to form a joint venture to finance the redevelopment and rehabilitation of derelict or vacant houses.

This is a noble cause but in the meantime, in my opinion, there is nothing to stop us from attracting new investment to emulate Singapore’s success in land reclamation. Let us stop and ponder how Malta and its geology as an island with relatively soft rock have over millennia suffered continuous erosion by mother nature.

“Being contrite, we need more elbow room to be able to enjoy spatial living conditions”

It is true that as an over-populated island, unfortunately not blessed with natural resources such as minerals, mountains or rivers, we survived handsomely and developed our skills and productive abilities to finely balance our trade balances. Currently, with low unemployment, politicians remind us that we rank as the fastest growing economy in the EU. Being contrite, we need more elbow room to be able to enjoy spatial living conditions.

Back to the subject of land reclamation, on visiting the Planning Authority website, one reads that in the past it commissioned two major studies on the subject. One dates back to 2005, which explored the idea of disposing construction waste at sea, and another feasibility study was completed in 2007 in two specific areas.

This resistance to large scale reclamation may be due to the fact that there was no foresight about a Gozo tunnel/bridge to be commissioned, even though this was mooted in each election manifesto. Unsurprisingly, there was some sympathy from PA towards a particular site of the coastline near Qalet Marku.

If it were not for the rich habitat of seagrass, one can use building debris from both the DB project and the Gozo tunnel to create a cluster of islands. Unofficially, we heard that an ERA study prefers the site at Xaghjra since the Qalet Marku site features seagrass listed as a protected habitat by EU. Naturally, the construction lobby is very much in favour of large scale land reclamation closer to the Madliena golden mile which can yield virgin land for development.

This will inevitably reduce pressure on ODZ use but designs have to blend and respect with sensitivity the aesthetic value and historical significance of the chosen site. Ideally, the Xaghra pristine coastline coincides with a political policy to move tourism to the south. Linking the southern coastline to Smart City and embellishing it with a modern promenade will support multifarious commercial, cultural and recreation activities.

Reflect on how we created a striving cruise liner industry in Valletta and Cottonera by building new jetties – on reclaimed land. Environmentalists need to balance their opposition and carefully weigh the advantages of achieving a better standard of living away from the frenzied high-rise cacophony at Tigne and Paceville environs.

Certainly, land reclamation is not new to the Maltese islands and here I can mention with pride the privatised Freeport terminals in Birzebbuga (employing thousands) and the platform on which the Shanghai Electric power station stands. One remembers with nostalgia how reclamation improved the logistics at Msida.

Originally when the parish church was built it was facing the sea. Really and truly, there will always be an ecological price to pay. The hardest hit, from a purely environmental standpoint, is obviously the seabed. Its integrity in terms of physical characteristics is ruined due to wiping out any biodiversity thriving on a particular site.

The obvious collateral damage to the Posidonia oceanica meadows (seagrass) that lie over large tracts of seabed at shallow depths around Qalet Marku merits serious consideration. Needless to say, the ecological significance of such meadows is well known in terms of stabilising the seabed and serving as nurture grounds for an immense variety of ethnic species and other marine organisms.

Also, any illegal dumping of inert waste at sea to build retaining walls for breakwater extensions disturbs the water column, contributing to turbidity. Ecologists warn us that substantial dumping takes ages to settle down as disturbed sediment on the seafloor and unassailably lowers the photosynthetic capabilities of aquatic species in that particular site to the detriment of the marine ecosystem as a whole.

Another concern is the toxic element inherent in unsorted waste such as heavy metals, burnt oil or other chemical species that could be absorbed by the marine ecosystem and in the process go to contaminate food chains. The implications in terms of the resultant particulate matter levels in ambient air – for example, white and black specks of dust produced as a result of heavy machinery to move material – cannot be underestimated.

So now that the Government is keen to issue tenders to excavate a 13-kilometre-long subsea tunnel, evil tongues will start to wax about the sensitive process how to select the preferred bidders. The tunnel is certainly a controversial topic that has long fired the ambition of savvy politicians yet also divided opinions on the justification of its massive cost just to placate a daily hustle of a few thousand commuters.

Alternatively, pundits say commissioning a fleet of fast ferries can instantly solve the connection conundrum. Lest we forget – the country is still stuck in a €6 billion debt mountain. The question, therefore, stands: Is the tunnel a ruse or is it for real? Are foreign investors interested?

If the government has the vision to build a tunnel alongside a reclamation project and triumphs by mollifying opposition from an environmentalist lobby, then that will be the day when Malta can rise like a later-day Phoenix out of the ashes. Exultantly, we deserve the title of a novel ‘Singapore in the Med’.

Merry Christmas to all readers!

George Mangion

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

Christmas of the future – no traffic jams

 

Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 13 December 2018

Landing at Schiphol airport this week to attend a Blockchain conference, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a fleet of all-electric (Tesla) taxis waiting silently to pick up passengers. Airport authorities in Amsterdam have recently decreed that emissions from conventional engines are far too high and only electric taxis will be permitted at the taxi stand. This is not surprising since, no restrictions will come into force next year in Frankfurt that gas or diesel engine cars will not be permitted to enter the city.

Such is the awareness about the health hazards of nitrogen oxides emitted from diesel engines that drivers in Germany will soon have to change their engines or buy new electric cars in order to comply. Needless to say, electric vehicles have an instrumental role in driving the transition to a low carbon economy and European cities look forward to a future dominated by them.

This will certainly make it easier to live and breathe in the major cities, especially so in Malta where emissions are high. The question is raised – can we afford to plan for an all-electric transition given the thousands of ageing oil burners roaming the streets? Having registered a 7.5% of GDP increase in the third quarter of the year, this augurs well to afford the extra millions needed to plan how to cut emissions.

The other cherry on the cake is the good news about government debt. This is on a firm downward trajectory thanks to economic growth, declining to 48.1% of GDP from a high of 73% in 2012 due partly to private consumption. This is projected to remain the main driver of growth, while capital investment is to increase mainly on the back of the frenetic growth in construction. Net exports are expected to contribute only modestly to GDP growth, as domestic demand fuels more imports.

Apart from car emissions, there are other headaches arising out of our race for economic growth. Employers face a lack of trained staff, whereas on, a positive note, this Christmas retailers are making hay while the sun shines due to improved consumer confidence and a growing disposable income. Black Friday last month was the best ever for retailing.

Even the latest Central Bank report is upbeat. The fly in the ointment is the rapid growth in vehicles which, as stated above, is partly the result of affluence. Close to 380,000 ageing vehicles (almost one for each resident – mostly imported second-hand) clog the narrow streets and this is making commuting a daily nightmare. Welcome to the streets in Istanbul.

Government is daringly allocating €100 million to upgrade the roads but this is only a palliative. The solution is not an easy one. Car emissions are exacerbated by an increase in tourist arrivals (now planned to reach three million) which creates a bionetwork of a carcinogenesis cloud. Malta is not Beijing. Noble efforts have been made to remove registration tax on electric cars (not hybrid) but they are still expensive and the island has a limited number of charging bays.

The concept of a robotaxi pool is still alien and Uber does not operate here. As stated earlier, car ownership is endemic. The good news is that we read about the future use of self-drive cars and the prediction that this will make car ownership less popular.

If robotaxis become mainstream, then there will be a drastic drop in the number of cars on roads. Driverless cars are the future and firms like Tesla in Silicon Valley are investing heavily in such technology. Still, there is no denying that conventional car manufacturers, like Mercedes, GM, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and Toyota are keen to join the gravy train. They aggressively invest in auto tech which they hope will enable them to be among the first to produce autonomous cars.

By 2025, one anticipates that Europe will witness a number of fully tried and tested autonomous vehicles. The question is – are we ready in Malta to face this revolution? Will our town planners embrace the challenge of fewer cars on the roads and design new flyovers and super highways to meet the future demand for novelties powered by Artificial Intelligence (A.I)? In the USA, there is a massive interest towards autonomous vehicles which has slowed the design of conventional vehicles running internal combustion engines.

It is a race to the bottom. Europeans want to replicate Tesla’s adventure with a dream to develop its own technology and software that leads to the manufacture of safe and efficient electric cars. Tesla are experimenting with autonomously driven vehicles – all fearlessly relying on the use of multiple sensors and advanced computers to transport passengers from A to B in comfort.

All this at one third of the cost of traditional car ownership. Many now see technology firms as being better placed than carmakers to develop and profit from the software that will underpin automated driving (The Economist, 2016). Is this the death knell for future car ownership in big cities? In the UK, Jaguar Land Rover’s announced its policy to hire 5,000 more people to enhance its expertise in autonomous and electric technology – 1,000 of which will be electronic – and software engineers.

It goes without saying that autos of a bygone age such as the legendary Ford “T’ cars, once a superlative feat of mechanics, have given way to electronic marvels on wheels. Armed with sensors like Mobileye they now have the capability of parallel parking, seeing and heeding oncoming traffic, predicting merge time and gauging accurate speed. Readers may ask; Is this fantasy land or a true prediction of what may hit our roads in the medium term?

Transport technology will use A.I, allowing people to borrow cars temporarily and drop them off where they want. Car ownership will gradually become merely a status symbol for enthusiasts/collectors but the general public will disown cars and gradually endear itself to cheap rides on shared cars. It is a joy not having to bother where to park. Needless to say, park and ride schemes will die a natural death.

It’s easy to imagine where these trends point: imagine how autonomous cars won’t need drivers and, could theoretically come to your door. In fact, some predict that Europeans will only buy autonomous, electrical powered cars by 2035 and that this labels fossil fuelled vehicles as dinosaurs.

With this sobering thought that promises clean air and blue skies, it will warm our hearts and make us hope for a better Christmas to come.

George Mangion

Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 13 December 2018
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 041

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

Success of the trickle-down economy

Author: George Mangion
Published on MaltaToday 13 September 2018

 

A flourishing economy has registered an extraordinary growth in the past five years, yet this trend must not hoodwink us and lure us to wave a flag of complacency. This was the message given by the minister for finance when speaking to invited guests in a pre-budget discussion. Yes 2017 saw a cool 5.9% increase in real GDP that makes us the envy of EU members certainly in the Med.

Many congratulate the minister for finance on his smart handling of the economy with “debt to GDP” ratio slowly receding to under the 60% official EU threshold.   It hit almost 73% at end of 2012 and we just managed to scrape by not being fined under the Excessive Deficit mechanism.

It is expected to go down further. Lower debt means a drop in servicing costs. But are we living in paradise?   The answer is that things are improving but there are still a number of mountains to climb.

As they say, Rome was not built in a day and the elusive trickle-down mechanism takes time to work its miracle cure. The showering of tax refunds last week ranging from €40 to €68 per taxpayer has certainly helped cool tempers frayed by the prevailing high humidity which makes life this summer less comfortable.

Critics including the bishops have warned us lately of a number of social challenges that affect our society which in their opinion need to be addressed in a constructive and innovative way to avoid pejorative consequences in the future.

One of these challenges are rising rents which can be a social curse particularly for tenants earning lower incomes or having large families to sustain. Another aspect is State retirement benefits.

It is fair to say that a one-time bonus of €300 paid to pensioners of a certain age did a lot of good but given the ongoing increase in cost of living (particularly medicines and fuel) there has been a chorus of requests from NGOs for more assistance.

There is a general feeling among pensioners that the statutory pension mechanism unless supplemented by external income is not sufficient to help people from sliding into the poverty trap. To verify this issue, two years ago PKF designed a number of ‘one to one’ questionnaires and ran a confidential survey among tenants in old people’s homes housed in three government-run centres.

The main purpose for this study was to elucidate the public on aspects of poverty by identifying the shifting needs of pensioners. It included talking to a representative sample aged 65 and over, which is usually identified as being at risk of suffering from social exclusion due to lack of income. According to the latest 2016 data published, Malta registered a reduction in the risk of poverty and social exclusion (AROPE) rate from 22.4% to 20.1%.

It is interesting and necessary to note that when one breaks up this value by age group or household type one finds that this enhancement has not benefited everyone. In particular, in the age group of 65 and over, the AROPE rate increased from 23.7% in 2015 to 26.1% in 2016. By 2030, the number of people within this age group will exceed that of young people aged 15 to 24. This inexorably shows how society is getting older and will inevitably face challenges due to a tectonic movement in demographics.

As in a Dickenson novel, if outlays and income reach an equilibrium then elderly people can live a healthy life and, therefore, remain active and fully participate in the community.

It goes without saying that elderly people have a rich endowment to bequeath to society.

The survey revealed that the State pension is adequate but only just. Most respondents claim that they cannot afford to go to any events, concerts or museums and because of this, they feel detached from society. This foments social exclusion.

Individuals who live in poverty are more likely to produce adverse outcomes for themselves (i.e. abuse of alcohol and drugs) and for the society (augmented criminal activity).

It is true that social welfare improvements are expected to be announced next month in the budget proposals and this marginally helps to even out inequalities in living standards. We are aware there are swathes of people, including those on the poverty line and minimum-wage pensioners, who need more sustenance and welfare assistance. A noteworthy observation from the survey is that almost 70% of families nowadays depend on a single pension.

Be that as it may, PKF decided to focus our research on households composed of two people or more that are only entitled to one pension. One assumes that without an income supplement these may easily fall below the poverty line. Furthermore, respondents receiving the maximum pension said the two-thirds pension system is not representative of their total lifetime contributions given that the pension limit is capped.

When asked if they can afford to save money: more than a half of the respondents said they spend their entire pension. Respondents with the lowest pension’s income, in this case lower than €500 a month, alleged that they are not able to save money.

Again, pensioners who receive €800 and upwards replied that quite often the pension cheque does not stretch beyond the month. Talking with people from State nursing homes we found out that most do not have alternative income sources such as contributions from relatives or friends – so no savings.

One reiterates that the social phenomenon of gentrification drives rent higher which, linked to increased consumption of electricity, fuel, medicines, coupled with internet connection charges etc. all push the cost of living on an inflationary trajectory.

In conclusion, the PKF study was an altruistic exercise to try and ascertain if couples relying on a single pension have enough to live by.

Economists like to argue that an equitable solution hangs largely on an efficient operation of the trickle-down mechanism – is it doing its job to distribute the surplus in an equitable way? In 2017 with a modest 3.1% of GDP surplus in the national account and by 2025 debt to GDP ratio is projected to shrink to under 45% so perhaps time is opportune to continue improving the State pension by gradually introducing a second pillar.

Even so, nobody expects the State to have the sole obligation to carry the burden for universal retirement so unions and employers may need to revisit the negotiating table to figure out a second pillar mechanism.

Ideally, the ubiquitous trickle-down effect must reach the lower ladder of the community.

George Mangion

Author: George Mangion
Published on MaltaToday 13 September 2018
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 041

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

PKF shines a light on the poverty myth

Published on Malta Today 5th October 2017
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 041

It is encouraging to hear just a few days ahead of the budget speech that Malta has improved its competitiveness ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2016-17, rising from 40th place to 37th. This improvement is not easy to obtain since it depends on a number of macroeconomic factors, some of which are beyond the control of the government.

Can we rest on our laurels now?  Not really – but it is a good start knowing that out of a total of 137 countries we rank ahead of Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Croatia. The government proudly announced a budget surplus for last year. This is a welcome effort to reduce public debt and precipitate an increase in national savings.

Our flourishing economy registered an extraordinary growth in the last years, in contrast with European members’ trend, yet this must not mislead us and lure us to wave a flag of complacency. There is a number of social challenges that affects our society which need to be addressed in a constructive and innovative way to avoid a pejorative effect in the future. One of these challenges is the retirement benefits in Malta. A lot of people opine that the statutory pension mechanism, unless supplemented by external income, will not be sufficient to help people falling into the poverty trap. To check this PKF has volunteered to conduct a number of ‘one to one’ questionnaires and run a confidential survey among tenants in old people’s homes housed in three government run centres.

The main purpose for this study was to clarify the controversial aspects of poverty, identifying the shifting needs of people and to investigate that cohort aged 65 and over, which is usually identified as more at risk of suffering from social exclusion or lack of income. According to the latest 2016 data, Malta registered a reduction in the risk of poverty and social exclusion (AROPE) rate from 22.4% to 20.1%.  It is interesting and necessary to note that when one splits this value by age group or household type one finds the evidence that this improvement has not benefited everybody.

In particular, in the age group of 65 and over the AROPE rate increased from 23.7% in 2015 to 26.1% in 2016. By 2030, the number of people within this age group will exceed that of young people aged 15 to 24. This data shows how society is getting older, so it will inevitably face various challenges. For these reasons and several more it is necessary for the government to have a deeper understanding of senior people’s pattern of expenses which is a prerequisite to guarantee a respectable quality of life.  If a positive equilibrium is reached then elderly people can live a healthier life and, therefore, can remain active and participate in the community. It goes without saying that elderly people have a rich endowment to bequeath to society. Taking into account the trend showing a decline in the number of young people, under ‘the pay-as-you-earn system’ this poses a challenge for the maintenance of a pension fund which over time will see fewer workers contributing for each pensioner. When questioned most pensioners replied that the pension they receive is enough but others argue that they cannot afford to go to any events, concerts or museums. For this reason, such pensioners feel detached from society.

Unfortunately, relative and more so absolute poverty is still a veiled problem that we have to quantify. An altruistic drive to fight relative poverty and social exclusion is a common policy with political parties and finds favour with stakeholders and NGOs. Individuals who live in poverty are more likely to produce adverse outcomes for themselves (i.e. abuse of alcohol and drugs) and for society (augment criminal activity).

The public pension system (old-age pension, survivors’ benefits and invalidity pensions) is reinforced by a non-contributory welfare programme. The national scheme is called the “two-thirds pension”. The two-thirds pension aims to provide a pension equivalent to two-thirds of the average earnings of insured persons capped at a fixed limit. However, there is also a minimum pension guarantee that is about 50% of the current average wage. Is this welfare not adequate and acceptable in a growing economy of 2017? Is it buttressing the welfare of our society?

The first noteworthy observation from the survey results is that almost 70% of families nowadays rely on a single pension. Be that as it may it is advisable to focus our research on households composed of two people or more that only receive one pension, since without other sources of income these may easily fall below the poverty line. Furthermore, respondents receiving the maximum pension said the two-thirds pension system is not representative of their total lifetime contributions given that the pension limit is capped. Only minor increments are triggered each year as a result of the Cost of Living Adjustment.

“Higher rents for flats, higher consumption of electricity, water, healthcare costs, internet connection charges etc., all push the cost of living on an inflationary trajectory. This is the main reason why the spending power of a single pension is dwindling”

When asked if they can afford to save money, more than a half of all respondents said they spend their entire pension. Respondents with the lowest pension income, in this case lower than €500 in a month, said that they are not able to save money. Again, pensioners who receive €800 and more said that often the pension cheque does not stretch beyond the month.

Talking with people from nursing homes we find out that as the level of pensions is low and most do not have any alternative sources of income, such as contributions from relatives or friends, then probably they cannot save. Saving was identified as being one of the most important means to avoid running out of finances when unforeseen events occur, indicative of the ingrained aspect of Maltese culture – ‘save for a rainy day’. It is important to emphasize that nowadays higher rents for flats, higher consumption of electricity, water, healthcare costs, internet connection charges etc., all push the cost of living on an inflationary trajectory. This is the main reason why the spending power of a single pension is dwindling.

When people do not make ends meet they try to find other sources of income.  It was considered that one of them could be gambling, which can double up as a source of entertainment in addition to being a possible source of alternative income. Could we test to see if a positive correlation prevails with the problem of poverty and prevalent gambling habits?  This exercise is a complex one and calls for more data than PKF could obtain from the public domain.

In conclusion, our primary research was to try and ascertain if income of single pension couples is enough to live by. We questioned our first hypothesis, which is “retired people are at risk of poverty”.  On average, results show that despite the compulsion to live a more frugal life style, coupled with a lack of savings yet overall the level of satisfaction of the pensions system is good.

As the economy expands so is the need to reform the P.A.Y.E system fine tuning its single pillar and gradually introducing a sponsored second pillar.  How can retirement be attractive if it is capped and not inflation-proof? However, it is not expected that the State alone carry the burden to provide for universal retirement except for those on the poverty line and incapacitated persons. PKF Malta believes that more empirical studies are to be sponsored on the subject of social welfare reform with the noble aim to facilitate the equitable sharing of richer pickings of our economic harvest. The ubiquitous trickle-down effect must permeate faster to reach the lower hierarchy of the community.

A copy of the study can be secured by calling Ms Pace on 21484373.

Author: Audrone Linionyte
Published on Malta Today 5th October 2017
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 041

Insolvency in the UK

Author: James Camilleri

Insolvency in the UK is currently regulated by the Insolvency Act 1986. However, it is relevant to point out that a modernisation of the Insolvency Act 1986 will see the light this year by means of the Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2016 due to come in force in April 2017.[1] The purpose of the new legislation is to be up-to-date with developments in the business world.[2] Important changes include the embracement of electronic communication in everyday life. Therefore, it will be possible to validly communicate with creditors by electronic means and hold meetings amongst creditors by videoconferencing.[3] Creditors who do not wish to be involved in the correspondence have the option to decline participation and small amounts of money may be paid directly without requiring a formal authorisation.[4]

The insolvency procedures available in the UK are five: i) administration, ii) company voluntary arrangement (CVA), iii) administrative receivership, iv) compulsory liquidation, and v) creditors’ voluntary liquidation (CVL).[5]

The administration procedure allows a company to remain in place whilst considering the future prospects of the business.[6] If is possible to rescue the company – either a financial restructuring may be proposed or the sale of the business together with all its assets.[7] This procedure is also being used to liquidate the assets and distribute the proceeds amongst the creditors, though it should be said this is not the intended purpose of the administration procedure.[8] A company can make an application for administration in court by means of an administrator who must be an insolvency practitioner. There is also the possibility for the company directors to appoint their own administrator and register the necessary papers in court. [9]

In a company voluntary arrangement, an insolvent company can forward proposals to its creditors for settling its debts – either in whole or in part. It allows a company to devise its own layout and thus not be constrained by the Insolvency Act. [10] The arrangement must be approved by not less than 75% of the creditors at which point it is binding on all with the exception of the secured or preferential creditors.[11]

Administrative receivership is only available to secured creditors on an individual basis.[12] There are two types of receivers: an ‘administrative receiver’; and a ‘Law of Property Act (LPA) receiver’ or ‘fixed charge receiver’. An administrative receiver is in charge of the whole or the majority of the assets and the running of the business. An LPA receiver, who does not need to be a licensed insolvency practitioner, is mainly used to sell a particular asset such as land. [13] It should be noted that an LPA receiver’s competence terminates should an administrator be appointed. On the other hand, an administrative receiver precludes the appointment of an administrator.[14]     

Compulsory liquidation is often initiated by the creditors. They need to petition in court for the winding-up of the company. In the petition the creditors, or whoever is making the petition, must show that the company is not able to meet its debts.[15] Article 123 of the Insolvency Act provides certain criteria for determining the inability to pay debts. Amongst these is the inability to pay a debt of at least £750 within 21 days; cash flow problems; and proof that the company’s liabilities surpass the value of its assets.[16]

In a creditors’ voluntary liquidation 75% or more of the shareholders pass a resolution for the winding-up of the company and the appointment of a licensed insolvency practitioner as liquidator. The liquidator appointed by the shareholders needs to be approved by the creditors and if not they can choose to appoint a different liquidator. The creditors act by majority voting based on the value of credit owed.[17]

Insolvency in Germany

In Germany the Insolvency Code (Insolvenzordnung) governs insolvency proceedings in the country. Enacted in 1999, the Insolvency Code replaced the 1877 Bankruptcy Code (Konkursordnung) and stressed the importance of reorganisation in preference to liquidation.[18] The Code has been amended over the years, with some reforms having taken place recently.[19]

On the 1 March 2012 an important amendment was passed revising the German Insolvency Code. It is headed the Act for the Further Facilitation of Restructuring of Companies, also known as the ESUG (Gesetz zur weiteren Erleichterung der Sanierung von Unternehmen).[20] With the purpose of encouraging the filing of insolvency to be made as early as possible, the stipulations for the debtor entity’s self-administration were made less stringent.[21]

By virtue of the ESUG, creditors can take a more active part and at an earlier point in the insolvency proceedings. The creditors are provided with more in-depth information regarding the initial phases of self-administration and the appointment of an administrator and the focus of the proceedings has shifted away from being mostly dominated by the court and the administrator.[22] The added protection offered to creditors has the collateral effect of benefitting the shareholders who stand to gain from the successful outcome of the restructuring plan. Different restructuring alternatives are possible under the ESUG amendments since any approach that is within the limits of corporate law may be put forward.[23]

In the past, the notion of self-administration was frowned upon because it sounded awkward to rely on a person who is filing for insolvency to, on the other hand, manage the restructuring plan. Thus, the debtor entity was refrained from being able to commence the self-administration process until a formal go-ahead was declared by the court. All-in-all, self-administration programs were the exception rather than the norm.[24]

This has changed following the enactment of the ESUG, and the initiation of a self-administration program can begin upon the instigation of the debtor entity, operating under the supervision of a trustee. This is subject to the unanimous vote of the creditors’ committee but once accepted the court is not obliged to scrutinize the agreement.[25] Self-administration encourages the management to declare a state of insolvency when this becomes imminent by making the transition less dramatic. This also reflects in the costs of self-administration being lower than in normal insolvency proceedings.[26]

The ‘protective shield’ is another useful mechanism introduced by the ESUG that allows the insolvent company up to three months for the preparation of an insolvency plan and refrain creditors from making any claims whilst the protective shield is still running.[27] The court will decline to grant the protective shield only if the chances of successfully restructuring the company are too remote. This awards the debtor entity time to prepare and submit an insolvency plan. By means of the ESUG, the protective shield is integrated in the preliminary proceedings not treated as an external process of the restructuring plan.[28]

The ESUG made the setting up of a creditors’ committee compulsory under certain conditions. Three conditions are stated by the amendment and it is enough to satisfy any two of these three. They are: i) a balance sheet total of at least €4,840,000, ii) revenues of at least €9,680,000, and iii) an average of at least 50 employees.[29]

During an insolvency plan, the ESUG had introduced the possibility to alter the rights of shareholders even if they do not approve of such changes. In what is referred to as the constructive part, the claims of a creditor may be converted into shares.[30]

For an insolvency proceeding to be initiated a request needs to be filed in court.[31] Insolvency rules apply to both physical and legal persons and partnerships. The competent court is the place of residence or the place of business of the debtor.[32] Since the replacement of the 1877 Bankruptcy Code there is an emphasis towards reorganization rather than outright liquidation.[33] The measures intended to promote reorganization are, inter alia, the insolvency plan and the influence of the insolvency administrator to avoid liquidation.[34] The administrator’s main goal is to retain the assets of the business venture to increase the possibility of recovery.

As part of the insolvency initiation proceedings a reason must be specified indicating why the entity is insolvent. The main reasons for declaring insolvency are: i) illiquidity, and ii) over indebtedness. ‘Illiquidity’ means the entity does not have enough liquid assets to meet its financial obligations. ‘Over indebtedness’ is an entity’s inability to meet its obligations based on all its assets – this insolvency reason only applies to legal entities.[35]

Another reason that was added for the application of insolvency proceedings is that of imminent illiquidity. Under this insolvency reason, the application is processed more speedily while more assets are still available and increase the possibility of an entity’s successful reorganization.[36]

At this stage, for the insolvency proceedings to continue further, the entity must have enough assets to cover the costs which the proceedings entail. These costs are namely: the court fees, the remuneration of the administrator and the creditors’ committee. In the event that the costs of proceedings are not covered by the available assets the insolvency application is dismissed and the consequences are dissolution for a legal entity or, in the case of a natural person, five years blacklisted as an insolvent debtor.[37]

If an insolvency application is accepted the court will appoint an administrator to liaise with the creditors on the future options available. At that point, all rights of management and transfer of assets of the entity are handled exclusively by the administrator.[38]

At the heart of the insolvency proceedings is a plan that meets the best interests of the creditors. The insolvent entity is shielded from individual actions by the creditors who have to act in tandem through the committee.[39] All the parties involved have to agree on a final plan which is presented to the court for acceptance. If approved by the court, the entity concerned regains control of the assets and has to provide for the proper implementation of the plan, if necessary under the surveillance of the administrator.[40]

 

 

 

Author: James Camilleri
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 041

 

 

 

 

[1] ‘Modernised insolvency rules commence in April 2017’ (Gov.UK, 25 October 2016) <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/modernised-insolvency-rules-commence-in-april-2017> accessed 22 March 2017.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] ‘Insolvency in brief’ (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009) <https://www.pwc.co.uk/assets/pdf/insolvency-in-brief.pdf> accessed 22 March 2017.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] ‘Brief guide to English Corporate Insolvency Law’ (Linklaters.com, 2008) <http://www.linklaters.com/pdfs/Insights/banking/Guidetoinsolvency.pdf> accessed 22 March 2017.

[11] (n 2).

[12] (n 7).

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] (n 2).

[18] ‘German Insolvency Law’ (Schultze & Braun) <https://www.schubra.de/downloads/broschueren/0027_en.pdf> accessed 24 March 2017.

[19] ‘German Insolvency Law – an overview’ (Mayer Brown, 2016) <https://www.mayerbrown.com/files/Publication/f1c7d753-bf54-4235-9298-70d0081a6438/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/3010b5c6-cc6a-4b1a-9fda-b112d03d6485/German_Insovency_Oct_14_A4.pdf> accessed 24 March 2017.

[20] ‘First Experiences with the revised German Insolvency Code (ESUG)’ (GLNS, 2017) <http://www.glns.de/en/news/newsletter/2013/1/insolvency-code/> accessed 11 April 2017.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] ‘Introduction to German Insolvency Law’ <https://www.justiz.nrw.de/WebPortal_en/projects/ieei/documents/public_papers/german_insolvency.pdf> accessed 24 March 2017.

[32] Ibid.

[33] (n 15).

[34] Ibid.

[35] (n 17).

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

CIC opens innovation hub in Miami – Malta next?

Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 13th April 2017

As part of its corporate social responsibility, PKF Malta is keen to act as interlocutor to help promote Malta in the field of scientific research and for this purpose through the intervention and assistance of its correspondents in Boston (USA) it started exploratory talks with the head of international relations at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston to evaluate the possibility of introducing Malta as a potential ICT and/or Life Sciences hub for investors, inventors and entrepreneurs.

Such a visit was undertaken last year and found the wholehearted co-operation of Dr Chris Cardona minister for economy and SME’s.  The delegation was joined by a technical representative of Malta Enterprise – although each party catered for its own expenses.  PKF has succeeded to attract the attention of such an important institution which will attract 400 new jobs within a group of start-ups.  It passed the financial proposal to the authorities.  Due to the exigencies and top priorities of the EU presidency, government officials need more time to digest the proposal but one hopes for a positive reaction.  As a small country, we pride ourselves in achieving a small surplus on national account balance (unprecedented in the last 30 years) yet our industrial base stands rather low in the pecking order involving technologies such as robotics, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Another snag is perhaps found in our ecosystem which is not fully attuned to the basic requirements of a coordinated educational and industrial policy. It is a pity if such an opportunity is lost for Malta considering how millions have been poured to support FDI such as hosting the US currency printer Crane, not to mention educational institutions such as Barts and the American University apart from others that are in the pipeline when the massive ITC campus is commissioned.

Attracting talent and retaining it can only succeed if our political leaders have the vision to support world-class innovation and R&D centres so it begs the question – why is it that we invest such a small amount of our national budget on research and development when compared to the EU average?  Statistics show 0.67% of GDP is allocated when we promised EU a higher ceiling of 2%.  Moving on, certainly one cannot doubt why Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was chosen by PKF.

This is a private research university in Cambridge, USA founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States.  Needless to say with its supportive campus environment it houses an incredible range of student groups coming from the four corners of the world and as part of its diversity and creative atmosphere, its graduates flourish in all faculties.  Another interesting landmark is the Boston-based Community Innovation Center (CIC) founded in 1999 by Tim Rowe and located in Kendall Square.  This houses more than 1000 companies in close to 50,000 square meters of premium office and co-working space across 8 facilities, including its most recent expansion in St. Louis, Missouri.  A number of local high-profile companies (including top names such as Facebook and Amazon) know their baptism at CIC – including its HubSpot, which now employs over 1,100 people, and raised $125 million through its IPO last October, and Greatpoint Energy, which several years ago announced a $1.25 billion deal to build reactors in China.  Additionally, Android co­founder Rich Miner built his portion of Google Android and established Google’s New England headquarters there.  CIC also has a non-profit sister organisation – the Venture Cafe Foundation.  What is so special about CIC?  The answer is that as an innovation centre it has succeeded to attract world-class start-ups which proved very supportive for the Boston economy through the generation of premium jobs enriched with high value-added research in an impressive range of scientific sectors.

Having toured its offices and laboratories, and discussed with the founder the possibility of Malta as a future centre the PKF team were impressed by the number of dedicated entrepreneurs hosted in the building. Sassily we were told how they work hard to pursue the proverbial Alchemist Stone and morph it into a sustainable commercial operation.  A CIC centre can be a complementary structure to strengthen the operation of a Life Sciences block recently inaugurated within Mater Dei hospital precinct – now with a respectable number of quality tenants.  A recent development is the opening of Cambridge Innovation Centre ‘s high-profile startup in Miami.  The company chose Miami as its third US expansion location and will eventually house more than 500 tech startup companies.  Stas Gayshan, managing director, visited Miami periodically for the past two years to study the area.  The new centre, modelled on its successful spaces in the Boston-Cambridge area that house and support startups located in the precincts of MIT, will be located (see picture) in the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park.  CIC founder and CEO Tim Rowe said “We are trying to build the infrastructure in the cities that have the potential to make an impact on the world.”  It’s first expansion in Europe occurred last September in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the first of its kind outside of the US.  The Centre will be able to house 550 innovative companies and build upon CIC’s international community of entrepreneurs, investors and established businesses.  Rotterdam was selected as an ideal location chosen after analytic studies revealed it is a very central city just one hour flight south of Amsterdam, a “footstep” away from the Belgium border and really close to other European hubs like London, Paris or Cologne. The ambition of Tim Rowe, the founder of CIC is to bridge across continents and fuse innovation in Europe and in Australia.  Will Malta join the list of accredited hosts?  The answer depends on the government in its discerning policy how to attract FDI.  It goes without saying the dream of having an active international centre of calibre geared to attract inventors can be doable provided support is marshalled to help fund such a venture.  Naturally such a hub when fully operational attracts international academics and entrepreneurs from neighbouring oil-rich countries to research and develop new ideas – the backbone of strong start-ups, and the creation of virtual bridges focused to discover trends in cutting-edge technologies. In conclusion, to host a sister CIC and Venture Capital centre is a sweet-smelling vindication to revive the ghost of Smart City as an aborted ICT hub.

Nothing else will improve our chances to have an active research and development base standing as a strong pillar of our economy.  Let us pray the government converts to the idea and undergoes a Paul of Tarsus leap.


Author: George Mangion
Published on Malta Today 13th April 2017
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 041

PKF publishes tax guide for 2016

PKF Tax Guide 2016

PKF International has over 400 offices operating in 150 countries with the PKF individual country tax guides being offered by 121 countries guides for 2016/2017 including Malta. The PKF Worldwide Tax Guide (WWTG)  has a long-standing legacy servicing international businesses’ fiscal needs, having been published annually since 1994.

This publication is the precipitate of a continually joint endeavour that brings to the fore a think-tank consolidation of fiscal expertise. The WWTG stands tall as a Reliable First Point of Reference to which our readers return in the knowledge that they are partners with us in the service we render.

The tax guide includes:

  • Taxes Payable
  • Determination of taxable income
  • Foreign tax relief
  • Corporate Groups
  • Related Party Transactions
  • Withholding Taxes
  • Exchange Controls
  • Personal Tax
  • Treaty and Non-Treaty Withholding Tax Rates

A soft copy of Malta’s World Wide Tax Guide 2016/2017 is available online at the following link: http://www.pkf.com/media/10028444/malta-tax-guide-2016-17.pdf. A hard copy may be ordered via email sent to Dr Marilyn Mifsud at info@pkfmalta.com

Author: Marilyn Mifsud
Get in touch: info@pkfmalta.com | +356 21 493 04