Author: Miriam Sultana – Head of Economics Advisory, PKF Malta
Published on Malta Chamber of Commerce Blog – 19th June 2020
Driven by the ever-growing need for innovation, last year PKF Malta founded the initiative “Bitpod” the brainchild of Head of Legal Dr Marilyn Formosa and Senior Partner Mr George M. Mangion. Bitpod is a quasi-lab that seeks to contribute to the local start-up eco-system by offering a meeting place at a Birkirkara premises for meetings and working space for use by entrepreneurs. The service is offered against a heavily-subsidised fee in order to reduce variable costs and help them to flourish.
The Bitpod concept is not new but reinforces the fact that start-ups are essential drivers for research and innovation, which is the foundation for sustainable economic growth. Under the same umbrella, in an effort to expand knowledge on key subjects, the Bitpod facility hosts a number of business podcasts which are available on all of PKF Malta’s social media platforms.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have taken the opportunity to raise the bar by taking Bitpod to a higher level. Whilst the hosting of webinars has become the norm hosted by a number of companies on various topics, PKF has opted to join the list of providers to extend an opportunity to clients and industry peers.
The facility is open to all and sundry to participate on a number of podcasts, at their own leisure. As can be expected, when news broke that the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic, citizens across the world were in shock and disbelief. Such exogenous shock generated mayhem and a sudden shift in consumer behaviour, the resulting disruption will prevail over the coming two years, at the very least. Therefore, we have taken the opportunity to outline the main economic impacts which businesses may encounter and suggested a number of solutions.
In the first session, we conceived the pros and cons of a virtual conference which is becoming quite a popular vehicle to meet peers across the business world. With most of the business trips being cancelled for the rest of the year, businesses are finding new and innovative ways to reap opportunities. We have hosted two sessions with a special focus on the global and local socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and discussed the concept of “triage” for government intervention.
As part of the Bitpod repertoire, we have also had the pleasure to collaborate with colleagues in New York from the office of PKF O’Connor Davies. In a special-edition session, we hosted Mr Thomas DeMayo who is a forensic specialist and has extensive experience within security and managing information risks across a wide range of industries.
As the pandemic has incited fears of job losses and uncertainty into people’s lives, it has become more crucial than ever that employees retain their job by working from home. Unfortunately, at home there are limited IT firewalls and such lack of protection may lead to cyber-attacks so workers are keen to learn how to prevent outsiders from acquiring unauthorised data. In this podcast, our expert Thomas highlighted the methods on how to combat cybersecurity attacks in this day and age, particularly as phishing attempts have become more predominant.
Lately, we invited Mr Leo Parmegiani, a very interesting and special guest, all the way from New York. He is a tax partner having over 30 years of experience in accounting matters with a specialisation in international tax. During this session, he will be discussing the current situation in the United States concerning both the pandemic and the latest public protests, and how this is affecting the US economy. In the coming weeks, once again, we will be collaborating with PKF in New York in order to discuss details of European company tax structures when trading in the United States.
Further to this, as a significant amount of companies have shifted their operations remotely, Leo will note the tax repercussions arising from teleworking. In particular, one must be alert to the situation when workers who are remote working in states or countries away from the office base as this can expose companies and workers to additional income and employment tax obligations.
Moreover, we will also be collaborating with leading lawyer Dr Edward Mario Camilleri who offered to talk about legal implications emanating from the pandemic. These implications are wide-ranging including new legal notices which were recently published such as their impact on the property market as well as civil issues. More importantly, this session will look at how at a time that the courts are closed this has heaped pressure on local legal advisers to cope with unresolved legal briefs.
As economies across the world are slowly recovering from the pangs of the pandemic, our quest for introducing interesting topics to share with our listeners does not stop here. PKF are more than ever committed to providing listeners with a good choice of interesting topics which are off the beaten track. As the custom of attending conferences and seminars is on hold at this point, the practical alternative is that of using digital platforms.
We invite you to stay abreast with the latest developments and stay connected to the business world by tuning in to our podcasts through PKF Malta’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram account as well as our website www.pkfmalta.com. We augur that you enjoy our sessions, as together we find ways of picking up the pieces and get our economy back on its feet.