The significance of the Act of Parliament (Cap.431) which established the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD), is primarily the recognition by the State of an institution whose mission is to promote social dialogue and bring about consensus amongst the Social Partners and members of Civil Society on a number of national economic and social issues related to Malta’s development.
MCESD was set up by law in 2001 and over the years, it has continuously strived to improve Social and
Civil dialogue in Malta by enhancing the quality of discussion and the breadth of issues tackled, taking
due account of priorities raised on the national and international policy-making agendas. Social and
Civil dialogue is a process through which participative democracy is carried out. As a result, the need
was felt to update the laws and regulations which regulated the sector. A bill was submitted and piloted
through Parliament by the Minister for Justice, Dialogue and the Family Dr Chris Said and it was given
unanimous approval by Parliament on the 2nd May 2012. Through the new law on MCESD, an additional
social partner Forum Unions Maltin and representation from the Gozo Regional Committee and Civil
Society Committee have been included on the Council’.
The law not only articulates the Council’s mission and objectives but gives the necessary framework which will enable the Council to build on solid foundations. In fact quoting from the law, one can highlight MCESD’s main functions.
“ (1) The Council shall be a consultative and advisory body with the function to advise Government, through the Prime Minister on issues relating to sustainable economic and social development and shall be competent to -
(a) promote social dialogue and consensus among all the social partners on issues relating to sustainable economic and social development;
(b) propose desirable and feasible goals and targets to give effect to the strategic economic, financial and social development objectives of the Government and to recommend measures which would further their attainment;
(c) make recommendations to Government in respect of changes in the direction or terms of economic and social policy that it may deem appropriate;
(d) make recommendations to Government regarding the elaboration of national plans for economic and social development and the implementations thereof;
(e) submit opinions and recommendations on matters referred to it by Government or on matters that the Council deems as having national economic and, or social relevance; and
(f) upon a request by Government, examine, assess and make recommendations regarding draft legislation related to the objectives of the Council.
(2) In discharging its functions, the Council shall reconcile individual sectoral interests in order to achieve overriding national interests, and shall have regard, inter alia, to –
(a) the attainment of the highest possible levels of sustainable employment for all at adequate rewards, with, due consideration to productivity levels;
(b) the removal of structural constraints which impede the achievement of the overall economic and social national objectives;
(c) the achievement of the highest possible rate of economic growth;
(d) the fair and equitable distribution of the income and wealth of the nation;
(e) reasonable price stability and long-term equilibrium in the balance of payments; and
(f) the social implications of economic growth, including the need to achieve social inclusion in all its perspectives particularly equality between women and men in the mainstream of development, and the protection of the environment.
(3) The Council shall act on specific requests submitted to it by Government or on its own initiative.”
The Council is made up of a Chairman appointed by the Prime Minister following consultation with the employers' and unions' represented on Council, a Deputy Chairman in the person of the Principal Permanent Secretary of the Civil Service, the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Finance, the economy and Investment (MFEI), Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Social Policy (MSOC), the Director General of the Economic Policy Division, the Governor of the Central Bank of Malta, the Presidents of the five main employers organisations namely the Malta Employers Association, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and the Malta Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises(GRTU) and the Secretaries General of among the largest Unions namely General Workers Union and Union Haddiema Maghqudin, the President of For.U.M. and the President of the Confederation of Malta Trade Unions.
The chairpersons of the Gozo Regional Commitee and the Civil Society Committee are also delegates of the Council as per ACT No. IV of 2012 amending the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development ACT
The administrative arm of the Council has a very lean structure made up of an Executive Secretary, an Exexutive Assitant and two Research Officers
Council meets once a month. The Agenda is set by the Chairman in concurrence with the Executive Secretary. Besides when required various Council sub-committees are established to study specific subjects to be discussed at Council. On an international level, the Council through the person of the Chairman or the Executive Secretary participates in meetings or activities held by the European Economic and Social Committee and European Economic and Social Councils or other foreign organisations. Besides the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development is a member of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions.