Do present conditions allow family businesses to have their full economic impact? Do governments lend business families the support they require to fulfill their role as job creators and innovators? For many countries around the world the answer to these questions is disappointingly in the negative. In spite of this apparent short-coming, there are notable exceptions such as the island nation of Malta. The Mediterranean country is a true forerunner for petitioning its authorities for the family business cause and has utilised a private sector initiative to move forward with establishing the Family Business Act. The legislative maneuver, which encompasses a set of laws that will support the continuity of family businesses, is set for parliamentary vote later this year.
Mario Duca and Dr. Jean-Philippe Chetcuti are the masterminds behind the Family Business Act and joined forces with other family business leaders a few years ago over their passion for family– owned firms. Together they founded the Malta Association for Family Enterprises (MAFE). By combining Chetcuti’s professional background in tax law and Duca’s consulting and educational expertise for multigenerational family businesses with family business owners across Malta, the two men were well armed to advance their cause as witnessed by the progress of their landmark act. In the following article, Duca and Chetcuti describe the reasons why family business lobbying is important, what exactly it will bring to Malta, and why simple tax optimisation is not enough to ensure the continuity of family businesses across generations to come.