Not much difference from Dickens’ time
The MSE is happy to pass on to the Exchequer several millions garnered from share and other investment trading commissions, but this is only one side of the story.
Many shareholders complain that their life's savings invested in shares (and in some other supposedly low risk investments) through local intermediaries have left them virtually empty handed. They attribute this either to the official inflation rate, but more so if the real loss of value of monetary denominated assets is factored in.
Several factors have militated towards this sad state of affairs.
Undoubtedly one indirect drag on good dividend payouts has been the ridiculously low interest rates in Europe. This seemingly justifies unscrupulous boards to likewise declare miserable returns as dividends.
Another factor is the different priorities of two 'sets' of shareholders. Many locally listed companies, if it weren't for the initial seed financing of individual small time shareholders, would not have had a successful IPO.
Regretfully, instead of rewarding the retail shareholders/ investors, some MSE listed companies have used them as stepping stones to get into a bigger league by enticing deep pocket investors from the Persian Gulf. These penny pinchers are not keen on receiving dividends which get taxed by the Maltese CIR but are bent on aggrandisement, through reinvestments.
Retail shareholders/investors have waded into MSE shares etc to supplement their incomes, and hopefully to once in a while get a windfall from shares which increase in value. Alas this has been the exception rather than the norm, as more powerful elements see to it that what is dished out is the very minimum, and not just at the annual general meeting receptions for the 'poor cousins' shareholders/investors (in contrast to the lavish buffets laid out for special clients as at the recent Valletta Saluting Battery HSBC reception, and that held nearer Christmas at M'forn for clients indebted circa a million euros).
Charles Dickens were he to turn up again would not find that things have changed much as regards the haves and the have nots. C. Grech Sliema