Provision of free education helped develop Malta’s economy – Malta Foreign Minister
Malta’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Minister, Carmelo Abela, said the country has had to rely heavily on national human resource development to achieve the growth it is experiencing now.
“We have free education from kindergarten to university. We have been training and educating our people while investing in our country, and then attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs). But that [FDIs] came after the human resources had been trained and educated.
“Recently we introduced free child care, which gives the opportunity to parents, particularly women, to return to their own work without paying fees for children to be kept in child care,” he said.
That was one of the areas that was crucial to Malta’s development, he told the B&FT in an interview, during a three day state visit by the President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, who was accompanied by 21 businesses in education, ICT, maritime, aviation and other government officials and diplomats, seeking to enhance trade and diplomatic ties with Ghana.
With no natural resources, Mr. Abela explained that free education from the beginning to university has impacted the growth of Malta and has formed the bedrock of the growth in ICT, aviation, manufacturing, finance and tourism, which accounts for 25percent of the GDP and attracted 2million visitors in 2016.
“When it comes to compulsory education, we have it till 16 and then it is optional for others to continue either in a vocational or technical college or university. There are a high percentage of students that finish compulsory education with an adult literacy rate of over 94percent,” he added.
Touching on the state visit, the Foreign Minister noted that with a pro business government in both countries, the hope is to further build on the relationship that was started in 1974 with the establishment of diplomatic ties and was enhanced with an MoU for a Technical Joint Commission in 2015.
“We want the best for our peoples and there are different ways and means we can achieve that. There is a common goal that we want to move forward and both our governments are pro business. We are on the same wavelength and we have a pro business attitude and real interest to move forward.
During this visit, we signed another agreement when it comes to political consultancy and so we are taking the collaboration between Ghana and Malta to the next level, which means it is not only on bilateral level but multilateral level,” he said.
Making trade easy
The minister noted that the two countries are working on a double taxation agreement to make business easier for their respective companies.
“I do not exclude other agreements when it comes to trade but this is very crucial and we hope to go step by step and we are happy with the progress made so far so we will go to the next step and have more agreement.”
He noted that what is needed is to build on the positive experience seen during the visit.
“We came here as friends and our friendship is stronger now. Where I see this going is for our businesses to work together and we as politicians will do what we can to facilitate and make it easier for them to talk, partner and create jobs and bring about economic development.
We respect each other; understand each other; and the beauty of our cultures makes it easier for us to work together,” he added.
He is hopeful that with both countries can become hubs in their respective regions. “Malta is a hub in the Mediterranean where we connect Europe to Africa and Ghana is a hub in West Africa.”