Bud­get ini­tia­tives to strengthen re­tail industry even fur­ther

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

The Min­is­ter for the Econ­omy, In­vest­ment and Small Busi­ness, Dr Chris Car­dona ad­dressed a sem­i­nar en­ti­tled Re­tail Industry – Chang­ing the Par­a­digm? or­gan­ised by the Cham­ber of Com­merce as part of SME week.

Min­is­ter Car­dona out­lined how the re­tail sec­tor in Malta is one of the most im­por­tant con­trib­u­tors to the Mal­tese econ­omy and has stayed strong de­spite global shocks and lo­cal chal­lenges. Euro­stat and NSO statis­tics show that in July of this year, Malta was among the top coun­tries in the EU in terms of in­crease in sales from shops, with an in­crease of 5% over the same month last year when com­pared to the Eu­ro­zone av­er­age of 2.7%.

“We should be happy that the coun­try is on the right path and boast­ing a strong econ­omy, but there is no room for com­pla­cency. We face global com­pe­ti­tion. If we want to keep the econ­omy mov­ing for­ward, we are go­ing to have to work at it,” stated Min- is­ter Car­dona.

As out­lined in a high- level ex­pert group on re­tail sec­tor in­no­va­tion, pub­lished by the EU Com­mis­sion in 2014, re­tail faces chal­lenges rang­ing from con­sumers’ pur­chas­ing power, ris­ing com­mod­ity prices, de­mo­graphic trends, in par­tic­u­lar the aging of the EU pop­u­la­tion, and the drive for sus­tain­abil­ity and e-com­merce.

Min­is­ter Car­dona recog­nised th­ese chal­lenges and called for the nec­es­sary rein­ven­tion of the sec­tor so as to re­main solid, re­silient and flex­i­ble. Min­is­ter Car­dona pro­filed some mea­sures on just how the gov­ern­ment is work­ing on this aim.

Through Malta En­ter­prise, gov­ern­ment is pro­vid­ing sev­eral schemes which could as­sist the re­tail sec­tor. The Mi­cro Guar­an­tee cov­ers loans of up to a €100,000 from a com­mer­cial bank when used to im­prove busi­ness op­er­a­tions. Mi­cro In­vest is a tax credit of 45% or 65% for busi­nesses op­er­at­ing from Malta and Gozo re­spec­tively. Cer­tify is an­other tax credit scheme of 50% in re­spect of con­sul­tancy ser­vices ex­penses in­curred in or­der to ob­tain nec­es­sary cer­ti­fi­ca­tions or to abide with oblig­a­tory stan­dards. Min­is­ter Car­dona also men­tioned the con­sul­tancy ser­vices Malta En­ter­prise is of­fer­ing, in busi­ness plan­ning, financial plan­ning and change man­age­ment.

Min­is­ter Car­dona also men­tioned how gov­ern­ment has taken it upon it­self to cut even more bu­reau­cratic tape. The Com­merce Depart­ment, which is­sues hun­dreds of li­censes a year, has made on­line ap­pli­ca­tions avail­able, as well as a free on­line trade­mark searches to check for avail­abil­ity.

“I thank you for the huge con­tri­bu­tion that the re­tail sec­tor makes to the Mal­tese econ­omy. Long may it pros­per. We cer­tainly in­tend to be at your side to help in the years ahead,” con­cluded Min­is­ter Car­dona.

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