By Emily Ledger
Malta has been making strives in the past year in an attempt to enter, and profit from, the growing global medical Cannabis sector. However, the Bank of Valletta has announced that it will not back the plans, stumping government officials and investors.
The Bank of Valletta has claimed that it will not have any involvement with Malta’s proposed medical Cannabis sector. A spokesperson for the bank quoted a lack of knowledge and unwillingness to take the risk, as reasons for the discrepancy.
CEO of the Bank of Valletta Mario Mallia said in a television interview:
“We do not have the necessary skills to understand this business. If you do not understand the business, how can you take risks?”
He continued: “If the government is promoting it, it does not mean that the banks have the risk appetite to accommodate the industry.”
The government, and particularly Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, have been pushing plans to expand the country’s medical Cannabis industry, through exports. Muscat has previously claimed that the expansion could create 900 new jobs on the island, and export €1 billion worth of products over the next three years.
However, this latest development involving the bank of Valletta will complicate these plans. The new industry may have to seek assistance from other EU bodies, leaving the Maltese bank behind.
The bank’s decision has been met with disbelief from investors. One entrepreneur, Reggie Fava, has previously criticised the Bank of Valletta for taking a lack of interest in the proposals. “When I see something new, that is something I can cultivate and grow – it is new and innovative. So why can’t we work together?”
Over 400 Cannabis prescriptions have been issued in Malta since the island legalised medical Cannabis in March 2018. However, critics have claimed that this number is still low when considering the number of doctors on the island.