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2 NEWS 2.6.2022 Central Bank of Malta issues May economic update THE Central Bank of Malta's Business Conditions Index for April indicates that annual growth in business activ- ity remains above its long-term aver- age, though normalising at lower levels from previous months. e European Commission's Con- fidence Survey shows that economic sentiment in Malta declined in April when compared with a month earli- er and stood below its year-ago level. However, it was still above its long- term average. When compared with March, confidence weakened in the services sector, and to a lesser extent among retailers, and turned negative in industry. By contrast sentiment im- proved among consumers and in con- struction. Additional survey information shows that compared to March, a smaller share of respondents in the services and retail sectors as well as consum- ers expected prices to increase in the coming months. Prices were expected to increase in construction in contrast to expectations of lower prices a month earlier. Price expectations in industry reached a record high. e European Commission's Uncer- tainty Indicator for Malta fell when compared with March, signalling lower uncertainty. is decrease in uncertain- ty was largely driven by developments in industry, and to a smaller degree, in the construction and retail sectors. In March, industrial production con- tracted again in annual terms, though at a slower annual rate when compared with February. Meanwhile, the volume of retail trade rose at a faster pace than previously. e unemployment rate fell marginal- ly from the rate registered in the pre- vious month and remained well below the rate registered a year earlier. In April, the number of final deeds of sale and promise-of-sale agreements for residential property fell on a year- on-year basis. Both commercial and residential permits rose markedly in March relative to their year-ago levels. e annual inflation rate based on the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) stood at 5.4% in April, up from 4.5% in the previous month. Inflation based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) also rose, reaching 5.7% in April, from 4.4% a month earlier. In March 2022, the Consolidated Fund deficit widened compared with a year earlier as expenditure increased at a faster pace than revenue. Annual growth in residents' deposits and credit remained strong in March, at 10.1% and 7.7%, respectively. By the end of the month, 640 facilities were approved and still outstanding in terms of the Malta Development Bank COV- ID-19 Guarantee Scheme, correspond- ing to total sanctioned amounts of €489.3 million. 5/2022 E C O N O M I C U P D AT E Microsoft to keep investing in the country and in its partner ecosystem "DESPITE the uncertainty we have ex- perienced, Microsoft is seeing a faster growth rate here in Malta and we want to keep investing more in the country's economy. Malta is very partner-focused and as Microsoft grows, we want our partners to keep growing with us." is was stated by eodosis Micha- lopoulos, General Manager of Micro- soft Greece, Cyprus and Malta in his keynote speech at a specially dedicat- ed event for Microsoft's partners here in Malta, the first physical event since 2020. Addressing the meeting at the Microsoft Malta offices which was at- tended by over 60 partners of Micro- soft, Mr Michalopoulos explained how up to two years ago, many companies were looking at digital transformation but with Covid, the commitment shift- ed to a digital acceleration where com- panies started looking at data to accel- erate their processes. "is event took place as part of our overall strategy to be "the best partner for our partners" especially for Malta where the market is greatly driven by our partner ecosystem. is is why we remain committed to grow our engage- ment with all our partners in Malta, a market which is growing faster than our other countries. We believe that Malta has the potential to deliver an even big- ger contribution driven by igaming, fin- tech and Government sectors," said Mr Michalopoulos. "We believe that Malta has the po- tential to deliver an even bigger con- tribution driven by igaming, fintech and Government sectors." - eodosis Michalopoulos, General Manager of Microsoft Greece, Cyprus and Malta e event hosted several panel discus- sions with the participation of partners who shared their experience of part- nering with Microsoft across different sectors ranging from small and medium businesses, AI, banking and igaming. Speakers included Joe Agius, CIO, Bank of Valletta, Edward Midolo, Head of Technology & Business Transfor- mation, Catena Media, Dr Marthese Portelli, CEO Malta Chamber, Patrick Cutajar, CEO of Eyetech, Gege Gatt, CEO of EBO and Stefan Farrugia, CEO of Eunoia, John Ellul, Co-Founder & Sales Director, Veracloud amongst oth- ers. Dr Marthese Portelli spoke about the work of Malta Chamber of Commerce when it comes to supporting Maltese business organisations and the support it can deliver to Microsoft Partners to tap into local and the upcoming EU Re- silience funds (RRF). Gege Gatt, CEO of AI technology company EBO explained how more companies are looking at data to accel- erate their internal processes. "Today, much of a company's success depends on how rapidly a company can change to adapt to sudden market shifts. At EBO, we worked on three main pillars namely, how we transform as a compa- ny, how we are reviewing our payment processes and the ethical framework within which we can make AI more empathic. All this was possible also through Microsoft's technology." In his closing remarks, Vincenzo Es- posito, General Manager, Commer- cial Partners, Microsoft Central East- ern Europe concluded, "we would like our partners to look at Microsoft as a platform company that holds all the tools that can allow a company to suc- ceed in its mission. is ethos of be- ing partner-led is always going to be in everything we do."

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