GRTU pro­poses re­moval of Ene­malta’s mo­nop­oly to fur­ther re­duce en­ergy prices

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Helena Grech

The Cham­ber of Small and Medium En­ter­prises has pro­posed open­ing up the pos­si­bil­ity for the pri­vate sec­tor to set-up mi­cro gen­er­a­tion in­de­pen­dent from Ene­malta – with the goal to in­crease com­pe­ti­tion and there­fore re­duce prices.

In a press con­fer­ence ad­dressed by GRTU Pres­i­dent Paul Abela, CEO Abi­gail Psaila Mamo and head of the tourism and leisure sec­tor Philip Fenech a num­ber of pre-bud­get pro­pos­als were pre­sented in re­la­tion to 10 sep­a­rate ar­eas.

Mr Abela slammed the Malta Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Af­fairs author­ity, tasked with en­sur­ing con­sumers’ rights are not be­ing breached, for be­ing “strong with the weak and weak with the strong.”

He called on the author­ity to in­ves­ti­gate the price at which en­ergy bought through the in­ter­con­nec­tor be­tween Malta and Si­cily is be­ing sold to con­sumers.

He said that it is a fact that Italy has an ex­cess ca­pac­ity – there­fore it is sell­ing for lower prices, lower than what Mal­tese con­sumers are pay­ing for.

Asked by how much the GRTU is propos­ing to re­duce the price of en­ergy, Mr Abela said that in the pre­vi­ous year, the union had sug­gested a 25 per cent de­crease and this was com­pletely ig­nored.

This year, he said, what is be­ing pro­posed is the re­moval of Ene­malta’s mo­nop­oly, so that the pri­vate play­ers may en­ter the fold and prices would then reg­u­late them­selves through the mar­ket.

With re­gards in­creased com­pe­ti­tion and lower prices in the en­ergy mar­ket, the GRTU is propos­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of a sec­ond op­er­a­tor in the dis­tri­bu­tion of elec­tric­ity to cater for the pri­vate sec­tor and open­ing up pos­si­bil­i­ties for the pri­vate sec­tor to set-up mi­cro gen­er­a­tion – in­de­pen­dent from Ene­malta.

It also pro­posed the in­ter­con­nec­tor be­tween Si­cily and Malta to be op­er­ated by a pri­vate player, the cre­ation of fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives – guar­an­teed by the gov­ern­ment – to cre­ate in­cen­tives for pri­vate busi­nesses to in­vest in en­ergy ef­fi­cient sys­tems and lastly the gen­er­a­tion of a fun ded­i­cated to re­search and de­vel­op­ment for the adap­ta­tion of tech­nolo­gies for the Mal­tese con­text.

“GRTU be­lieves that a fund needs to be set up in order to de­velop tech­nolo­gies that are suit­able to our cli­mate and re­sources. Be­ing such a small mar­ket no large in­vestor will uti­lize their re­search re­sources on Malta so the lo­cal busi­nesses would do this them­selves with some help.

“The funds avail­able from Malta Coun­cil for Science and Tech­nol­ogy are both bu­reau­cratic and hav­ing to in­clude a Europe wide di­men­sion di­min­ishes the im­pact on Malta and com­pli­cates projects.”

In the area of pen­sions and self­em­ployed per­sons, the GRTU has pro­posed for gov­ern­ment, through the Malta Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Author­ity, to in­tro­duce an au­to­matic en­rol­ment scheme for self-em­ployed per­sons and their staff.

Mr Abela said that of­ten times when self-em­ployed per­sons find out how much of a pen­sion they will be earn­ing, of­ten seek­ing out that in­for­ma­tion very late in the day, many get a fright with how lit­tle they will be earn­ing.

He ex­plained that the au­to­matic en­rol­ment scheme should in­clude a manda­tory en­rol­ment with vol­un­tary opt out on set­ting up as a self em­ployed in­di­vid­ual and on the en­gage­ment of stuff. In ad­di­tion to this, the con­tri­bu­tion rate “should range be­tween two per cent to four per cent for the self­em­ployed per­son and his staff”.

“The self-em­ployed per­son is not obliged to pay a con­tri­bu­tion to the pen­sion of staff em­ployed but would be in­cen­tivised €1 for €5 vol­un­tar­ily paid by the en­ter­prise owner,” reads the GRTU pre-bud­get doc­u­ment.

Ms Psaila Mamo spoke of redefin­ing the crafts sec­tor in Malta, by launch­ing a crafts pol­icy, cre­ate in­cen­tives to re­duce the pro­duc­tion costs for lo­cal crafts, launch­ing of a qual­ity as­sur­ance sys­tem and re­duc­ing VAT rate at five per cent for all lo­cally pro­duced crafts.

In ad­di­tion to this, as­sis­tance for op­er­a­tion and the in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion, a stronger Malta En­ter­prise in­cen­tive for op­er­a­tors that will carry out con­struc­tion works on their premises as part of the re­gen­er­a­tion pro­ject and fi­nally a mar­ket­ing cam­paign to pro­mote lo­cal crafts.

Other pro­posal pol­icy ar­eas in­clude: mak­ing the au­dit of fi­nan­cial state­ments vol­un­tary for mi­cro and non-trad­ing com­pa­nies, com­pul­sory mem­ber­ship for all en­ter­prises with so­cial part­ners and a part­ner­ship in favour of in­clu­sion (part­ner­ship be­tween GRTU, KNPD and the Plan­ning Author­ity to help make pri­vate en­ti­ties more ac­ces­si­ble).

Part­ner­ing with the pri­vate sec­tor to tan­gi­bly ad­dress grow­ing hu­man re­source needs, boost­ing the re­tail sec­tor through en­hance­ments in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, low­er­ing the cost to ac­cess to fi­nance and a greater col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards our en­vi­ron­ment were pro­pos­als also given promi­nence.

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