At the heart of who we are
Identity Malta Agency CEO Anton Sevasta
September 4, 2021
3 min read
Brought to you by the Parliamentary Secretariat for Citizenship
There is a fast-growing sector which goes to the core of each of us as individuals. It is activity at the cutting edge of technology, adding to a cultural revolution.
It is the identity and security sector. If you had to put a value on it worldwide it would run into billions of euros. Every country issues passports. Many of them, including Malta of course, issue identity cards and residence permits to EU and third country nationals. But the tentacles go much further, into the areas of safety and security. This is the age of instant transactions, globalisation and open trade but it is also the age of identity theft, online fraud and money laundering. Never has it been more important for individuals to have the ability to protect their identity and their wealth.
Cash may no longer be king, but it is still of huge importance. De La Rue first set up a purpose-built banknote factory in Malta more than 40 years ago. It is now one of the group’s centres of excellence, a highly skilled production facility that acts as an export hub to the world. In more recent times a €100 million investment brought Crane Currency to Ħal Far. This site features the industry’s most modern equipment capable of producing the latest security feature enhancements. HID Global, an Assa Abloy Group brand, also recently invested locally by acquiring the Identity Solutions Business from De La Rue. This move meant that HID Global are now one of the main players in this area, with the result being that three important players in this sector are now part of Malta’s manufacturing industry.
In government we have made great strides in identity, improving the passport service, introducing a state-of-the-art ID card and introducing also an EU harmonised residence permit, with Malta being one of the first EU countries to do so. But we have more work to do at Identity Malta. It’s a relatively young agency, set-up only 8 years ago, having been formed from different entities, each with their own operational culture and behavioural values. That is why we launched a strategy document to make Identity Malta stronger and more effective. Significant investments in staff training and technology are taking place. Now the agency has set targets for client service performance and is required to report on how well it does in meeting these.
Across government there is a move towards the “once only” principle so as to do away with having to keep repeating personal details when applying for a government service. Joined up government will do away with bureaucracy and the frustrations of being asked name, address and ID card number time and again.
Culturally, there is much change. We have brought forward legislation to remove any distinction between genders when it comes to married couples choosing their surname. Each spouse may choose to keep their surname, drop it in favour of their spouse’s surname or adopt a combination of both. Spouses may choose different surnames, although they do have to agree on the surname to be passed on to children.
There is now an option to leave the gender section of birth certificates blank to avoid hastily assigning a gender to intersex children. It is also possible for a passport or identity card to be issued with the neutral gender marker “x” instead of male or female. These changes affect relatively few people but are significant in that they recognise the importance of an individual’s identity.
The identity sector needs to adapt constantly. The latest advance is the Malta COVID-19 vaccination certificate, where Identity Malta has been pivotal in this success. Last year this had not even been thought of. Now, for most Maltese, it is vital, as it opens the doors to events and foreign travel that would otherwise be denied to us.
Identity activity is fast moving and ever changing but its importance in society should never be underestimated.
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