Mea­sures need to take tan­gi­ble form – GRTU

Malta Independent - - BUDGET 2017 -

The pos­i­tive growth be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by our econ­omy has pro­duced wealth giv­ing rise to the pos­si­bil­ity of spread­ing eco­nomic ben­e­fits across sec­tors, the GRTU said last night in its first bud­get re­ac­tion.

Nev­er­the­less, it said, con­tin­u­ous tan­gi­ble in­cen­tives and mea­sures are nec­es­sary in the im­ple­men­ta­tion phase to en­sure that the pos­i­tive eco­nomic re­sults are not only achieved but sus­tained.

Wide­spread fis­cal ben­e­fits

GRTU said it sees that di­rect fis­cal mea­sures tar­geted at wider sec­tors such as pen­sion­ers and those on min­i­mum wage are ex­pected to in­crease dis­pos­able in­come to gen­er­ate eco­nomic ben­e­fit across the board.

Traf­fic and trans­port

The GRTU’s calls and pro­pos­als for im­me­di­ate so­lu­tions to the traf­fic cri­sis have led to a num­ber of com­mit­ments and mea­sures in this bud­get. Pri­vate col­lec­tive trans­port is be­ing in­cen­tivised by tax de­duc­tions to em­ploy­ers that or­gan­ise free trans­port for their em­ploy­ees and large govern­ment en­ti­ties are to pro­vide trans­port for their own. The ur­gent need to give a full fo­cus on the Kap­para Junc­tion Project to in­crease the rate of work dras­ti­cally in order to re­duce the neg­a­tive im­pact of the length of the project seems to have been heard with a re­newed com­mit­ment. In­cen­tives to in­crease park­ing ar­eas through Projects Malta and Plan­ning Au­thor­ity pro­pos­als to at­tract pub­lic car parks also echo GRTU pro­pos­als to solve the traf­fic cri­sis. Mea­sures ad­dress­ing or­gan­ised school trans­port which are key for im­mi­nent im­prove­ment have un­for­tu­nately been left out.

En­ergy

The GRTU said it fails to un­der­stand how for yet an­other year, pos­si­ble sav­ings for busi­nesses through re­duc­tions in en­ergy bills has not been tran­scended to boost the econ­omy. Fol­low­ing last year’s call by GRTU to de­crease utility tar­iffs, one of GRTU’s main pro­pos­als was that of open­ing up the en­ergy mar­ket to more op­er­a­tors in a bid to in­crease com­pe­ti­tion and re­duc­ing cost to busi­nesses.

Re­new­able en­ergy ini­tia­tives such as the PV Farm project have al­ways been ad­vo­cated by the GRTU and is once again wel­comed as it is be­ing com­mit­ted to in the bud­get. It is, how­ever, the se­cond year to see this pro­posal in the bud­get and now GRTU awaits im­me­di­ate im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Bu­reau­cracy

The cham­ber said it is wel­com­ing to note that its pro­posal on re­mov­ing sense­less com­pul­sory au­dits for mi­cro-SMEs has par­tially been taken up by in­tro­duc­ing this op­tion for the first two years for start-ups. This is the very first time this con­cept has been in­tro­duced in Malta. This in­cen­tive is, how­ever, only tied to post-grad­u­ate start-ups and should def­i­nitely be ex­tended to all start-ups if we want all youths to feel em­pow­ered on an equal level and not dis­crim­i­nate be­tween busi­ness ideas based on ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment.

GRTU con­stantly ad­vo­cates for the re­duc­tion of bu­reau­cracy and there­fore wel­comes the an­nounce­ment of re­moval of trad­ing li­censes.

Hu­man re­sources

The pos­i­tive re­sults of de­creas­ing un­em­ploy­ment rates have led to hu­man re­sources ev­i­dently be­com­ing more of a key growing con­cern to em­ploy­ers across the ma­jor­ity of sec­tors. GRTU ex­pected to see tan­gi­ble ag­gres­sive mea­sures to ad­dress the im­mi­nent situation with so­lu­tions to a prob­lem that can no longer wait to be tack­led.

Pen­sions

GRTU’s pro­posal for a manda­tory pen­sion for self-em­ployed with vol­un­tary opt-outs has re­sulted in vol­un­tary pen­sion in­cen­tives for em­ploy­ers and their em­ploy­ees. In GRTU’s opin­ion this is a pos­i­tive step yet the take-up is ex­pected to be weaker than that of the orig­i­nal GRTU pro­posal.

Ex­ten­sion of the Val­letta shop scheme

GRTU is pleased to note that the suc­cess­ful 45-year em­phytheusis scheme for busi­nesses op­er­at­ing in rented pub­li­cally-owned premises, ne­go­ti­ated by GRTU in the case of Val­letta shops, is now be­ing ex­tended be­yond Val­letta.

Fam­ily busi­ness trans­fer

The mea­sure for fam­ily busi­ness trans­fer stamp duty to be re­duced from 5% to 1.5% from par­ent to child is a tan­gi­ble im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Fam­ily Busi­ness Act con­cept. GRTU, how­ever, asks why this is only be­ing launched for 12 months where such time­frame does not al­low for plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion.

Joint en­force­ment task force (un­fair com­pe­ti­tion)

GRTU sees ini­tia­tives un­der a new name which are once again sup­pos­edly tar­geted at ad­dress­ing un­fair com­pe­ti­tion. GRTU hopes that the launch of the Joint En­force­ment Task Force would be a tan­gi­ble ini­tia­tive this time round as this is a long-awaited es­sen­tial point to be tack­led for SMEs and en­ter­prises that are be­ing driven out of busi­ness due to un­fair com­pe­ti­tion.

Open­ing hours

The flexibility of open­ing hours ac­cord­ing to busi­ness needs is an­other long-awaited com­mit­ment by govern­ment which has been dragged from one bud­get to the other. GRTU asks that af­ter ex­haus­tive con­sul­ta­tion and such a long wait, this is im­ple­mented by the end of the year.

Ex­cise du­ties

GRTU has noted the in­crease in spe­cific ex­cise du­ties such as toi­letries, non-al­co­holic drinks, glass, iron and tiling, and shall be look­ing into the ex­pected ef­fect on var­i­ous sec­tors. Af­ter years of be­ing hin­dered by eco-con­tri­bu­tion tax, these busi­nesses are now be­ing cas­ti­gated with the in­tro­duc­tion of ex­cise duty.

Other in­cen­tives

Other in­cen­tives noted pos­i­tively by GRTU in­clude the in­tro­duc­tion of the Risk In­vent­ing Scheme for In­vest­ment in SME com­pa­nies which will re­ceive tax in­cen­tives of up to €250,000 and the stamp duty re­duc­tion from 5% to 2% in the case of Gozo.

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