This 2020 Article IV Consultation focuses on Malta’s near and medium-term challenges and policy priorities and was prepared before coronavirus disease 2019 became a global pandemic and resulted in unprecedented strains in global trade, commodity and financial markets. Pursuing structural reforms is expected to help sustain Malta’s growth performance while promoting social inclusion. The focus should continue to be on encouraging female and elderly participation in the labor market, upskilling the labor force and stimulating innovation. Moreover, to safeguard the business climate, remaining governance shortcomings should be addressed without delay, including by stepping up the fight against corruption and by increasing the efficiency of the judicial system while ensuring its independence. Improving access to affordable housing remains a key priority in support of greater inclusion. It is imperative to maintain gradual consolidation to ensure a balanced structural budget excluding proceeds from the Individual Investor Program. The IMF staff suggests continuing addressing infrastructure needs while upgrading public investment efficiency. Improve fiscal risk analysis and management.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This technical note on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) for the Malta summarizes the findings of a targeted review of several aspects of Malta’s progress in addressing AML/CFT vulnerabilities in the financial sector, specifically the banking sector. The report recommends that while Malta has strengthened AML/CFT requirements for banks in recent years, the implementation of AML/CFT preventive measures should be improved further. Although important milestones have been implemented by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit and Malta Financial Services Authority to enhance AML/CFT supervision since mid-2017, recent AML/CFT violations raise doubts as to their capacity to effectively identify and address AML/CFT compliance breaches. A multiprong strategy is needed to address these deficiencies. The focus needs to be on developing more effective AML/CFT enforcement and ensuring that banks apply appropriate preventive measures in relation to their high-risk activities and clients. AML/CFT supervision needs to more stringently evaluate banks’ risk mitigation models, ensure that customer due diligence requirements are properly followed, and apply corrective actions and sanctions when deficiencies are identified.
This Article IV Consultation highlights that Malta has been one of the fastest growing countries in the European Union after the crisis, because of a rapid structural rebalancing towards export-oriented services—mainly remote gaming and tourism. The authorities are now exploring new development areas around the blockchain technology. As per the authorities, domestic demand would continue to be the main driver of growth, and persistent labor market tightness might eventually put some pressure on wages and prices. They consider global protectionism as a key external risk and emphasized ongoing actions to address domestic risks related to money laundering. The report also shows that Malta’s new development areas related to the distributed ledger technology present both opportunities and risks. The IMF team stresses that policies should focus on enhancing the economy’s resilience, ensuring financial stability and integrity and making growth more inclusive. It is important to promote strong and inclusive growth by encouraging further labor market participation of women and elderly workers.