On the 25th February the Gozo Business Chamber held its Annual General Meeting at the Auditorium of the Queen Mary University of London Campus in Gozo.

Daniel Borg, Chief Executive Officer of the Gozo Business Chamber, welcomed those present and highlighted the important work of the Chamber during the pandemic.  He also presented important changes to the statute of the Chamber.  These changes were done after a comprehensive review of the statute with the intent to align it to today’s needs and requirements, and to help the Chamber address present and future challenges efficiently and effectively.  These changes were approved unanimously.  The CEO also presented the administrative report which shed light on the work of the Chamber during 2020.  Important highlights of the report included the Chamber’s efforts during the pandemic, initiatives undertaken during 2020 including its work in the Presidency of INSULEUR (the Insular Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the European Union), and the Youth 4 Entrepreneurship – Gozo event.

The meeting was addressed also by the Chairman of Bank of Valletta Dr Gordon Cordina.  Dr Cordina delivered an interesting presentation and talk entitled ‘ A Tale of an Island and a Bank: Through COVID and beyond’.  He provided interesting insights on the peculiarities of islands especially their distinctiveness.  Gozo’s GDP per capita increased between 2010 and 2020.  However, it did not increase at the same rate as the main island of Malta.  Also, while the public sector in Gozo accounts for circa 25% of the Gross Value Added on the island, new economic sectors are much smaller in Gozo.  Contrary to other smaller island in Europe, Gozo is an important contributor to the national economy.  In this sense while Gozo is too important for the national economy to be left to its own devices, it is often too small for an administrative critical mass to function efficiently and effectively.  In this sense the role of the newly established Gozo Regional Development Authority will be essential.  Dr Cordina emphasized the point that the future ambition for Gozo should be to evolve its regional distinctiveness into sustainable economic and social development, also within the context of the impact of the COVID-19.  Developing distinctiveness and re-gentrification should be its medium-term goals, which should lead in the long term to it becoming a role model in regional development.  The short-term however, will be characterized by remediation, consolidation and sustaining growth.  Gozo should develop its vocation as a lifestyle destination and should go beyond simply focusing on GDP to actually create GDP in important economic niches such as those related to sustainability.  While the present situation is a turning point which can be characterized either by recovery or death, COVID can be the spur which can help restructure our economies based on sustainable operating models, more earlier than we had planned.  Dr Cordina also highlighted the importance of Bank of Valletta for Gozo and its commitment to the island.  He put the Bank’s efforts and development within the international context of events which have led to the restructuring of the banking sector.  Various initiatives were launched to assist customers and especially SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Bank of Valletta  remained a key and active player despite the challenges and especially in supporting economic activity in Gozo.  He also outlined the vision for the Bank in the coming decades, especially that of becoming a thought leader in the main areas of its business

The Annual General Meeting was also addressed by the Minister for Gozo Hon Clint Camilleri.  He highlighted the initiatives conducted by the Government to assist businesses and thanked the Chamber and the business community in general for its commitment to Gozo.  He highlighted how the Chamber and the Ministry engaged in effective dialogue to continue to sustain the Gozitan economy.

Joseph Borg, President of the Gozo Business Chamber, made the concluding speech.  During his speech he made important comments relating to the need of a new hospital, and the importance of diversifying the Gozitan economy.  While people in business experienced various challenges, which were accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, he highlighted how the Chamber is looking towards a sustainable economic model, one in which Gozo would also achieve carbon neutrality before the set goals for the whole country.  The digital economy also holds significant potential for Gozo considering also the significant investment made by the Government.  Accessibility remained important for Gozo, and the Chamber will continue to work in this direction.  He also hailed the Gozo Regional Development Authority as an important milestone for Gozo, and hoped that everyone will work in unison so that this institution can achieve its full potential.

Dr Gordon Cordina (Chairman of Bank of Valletta)’s presentation can be downloaded from here.

The Annual Report for 2020 by the CEO, Daniel Borg, can be downloaded from here.

The speech by the President of the Chamber Joseph Borg, can be downloaded from here.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Martin Attard