Pleased with rejection to extend anti-dumping duties on footwear

 The EU Antidumping Committee has rejected the Commission proposal to extend the duties for another 15 months, by 15 votes against 10. GRTU welcomes the decision by the EU-27. After 15 years of protectionism in the footwear sector, the current antidumping duties on imports from China and Vietnam will hopefully end in January 2010. As shoes are essential items, this is a good day for all Europeans. Now we expect that today's ‘no' will be confirmed also at ministerial level.

The reasons to terminate the measures were compelling: due to higher import prices from China and Vietnam, the import activity has shifted to other countries of origin. Production has not returned to Europe. There is no evidence that the measures have saved one single job.





GRTU had written to the Authorities to ensure that this time round Malta's stand would be against the further extension of the duties. Even though Malta had during 2006 voted in favour of these duties, against GRTU's advice, the Minister for Finance, the Economy and Investment assured the GRTU that this time Malta would have voted against this imposition.

Anti-dumping rules impose duties on imported products deemed to be below cost price, thus making imports more expensive and driving up prices in our stores. In the current crisis, citizens are right to expect the EU to terminate these long-standing measures which artificially ‘protect' the footwear industry. For this specific sector Malta is certainly an importing and not an exporting country, therefore, our retailers and consumers are made to pay extra hefty costs to protect the few foreign European producers. Maltese traders should not have been made to susidise the few footwear producers still operating in other EU countries. We are therefore very please the Maltese Government took our advise this time in favour not only of our enterprises importing these footwear products but also consumers.

Free trade benefits consumers and boosts the economy. Europe needs open markets at home to foster market access abroad. Today's decision has set the points right. If confirmed, the termination of the footwear duties will help Europe on its way out of the crisis. Consumers and competitive industries stand to win – hopefully a precedent for upcoming cases.


Task Force for Bugibba, Qawra and St Paul’s Bay

 GRTU on behalf of its members in the areas of Bugibba, Qawra, and the St Paul's Bay, has sent a letter to Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi requesting the establishment of a Task Force to address the never ending list of problems these localities are facing. GRTU argued that the idea of yet another appointment of an area manager will continue to confuse the already inefficient bureacratic and unrestrictive structure that exists today.

The Task Force should be composed of the following parties: the GRTU Malta Chamber of SMEs, Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), St Paul's Bay Bars and Restaurants Association (SPBA), the St Paul's Bay Local Council, Malta Transport Authority (ADT), the Ministry for Tourism, the Police, the  Malta Maritime Authority (MMA), and the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs (MRRA). The Task Force will supervise and make recommandations on matters related to the area together with the logistics for the implementation of the Belvedere project which includes, the embellishment of the Fra Ben area and its surroundings. The Task Force will also be responsible for all matters relating to any works taking place in the St Paul's Bay locality and reporting directly to the Prime Minister. GRTU has till today not received a reply. We will keep you posted on the issue.

Programme of activities in St George Palace Square inaugurated on the 21st of November by Minister G


Monday 7th December 2009

18:30- 19:30

In Guardia – A spectacular re-enactment that portrays an authentic historical event during which some 70 actors are all dressed up in their best uniforms from the times of the Order of St John. This will start in Republic Street and move into St George`s Square. A Malta Tourism Authority production

20:00- 22:00

Concert by George Curmi (il-Pusè) Band together with Mark Tonna, Alex Schembri, Geordie, Mariella Pace Axiaq, Hilda and Miriana Curmi, Kurt Calleja, Diana, George Debono, David Chircop, Martin and Paul Curmi.


Tuesday 8th December 2009

11.00 – 12.30

All patrols from the Central District Scouts and Girl Guides will march into Valletta from City Gate to St George`s Square

12:30 – 13.45

Sarsaza Percussion Ensemble

13.45 – 15.15

EnKore together with their band

15:15- 16:30

Patras Lepanto 1603 – Re-enactment of the celebration that had taken place in St George`s Square after the Knights` victory in Patras, Lepanto in 1603.  Some 100 actors will be dressed up  in uniforms and regalia reminiscent of the Order of St John.  A spectacular parade that will start at City Gate and makes its way through Republic Street. A Malta Tourism Authority Production

16:30- 20:30

Children`s programme including animation shows and falconers

16.30 – 17.30

Tama Tnabar will parade in from Republic Street towards St George`s Square

18.30 – 19.30

Violinist Simon Vella

18:30- 19:30

Muzzle Unplugged

18:30- 20:30

Fire juggling and Fire eating shows.

19:30- 20:30

Saxaphone Quartet

20:30- 22:30

Live concert by The Animae Gospel Choir, – made up of a number of well-established artists and singers accompanied by a live band.  Special guest star Ivan Grech of Winter Moods.

Wednesday 9th December 2009

18.30- 18.45 

Armed Forces of Malta Band together with the Police Band will march from City Gate to St George`s Square

18.45 – 20.00

Musical show and parade by the Armed Forces of Malta Band together with the Police Band in St George`s Square.

20:00- 22:00

Concert of popular operatic and Napolitan exerpts by the Orkestrina of the Valletta Dramatic Company. Well-loved pieces will be interpreted by tenor Joseph Aquilina and sopranos Anita Cauchi and Marita Bezzina, together with popular singers Nunzio Galdes u Enzo Gusman.

Thursday 10th December 2009

17:00- 18:30

University Junior College Orchestra will accompany tenor Aldo Busuttil in concert with Ruth Portelli, Corason Mizzi and Laura Bruno.

18:30- 19.30 

The two Valletta bands namely the La Valette Philharmonic National Society and the King`s Own Band will march together from City Gate  to  St George`s Square.

19.30 – 21.30

Musical concert by the two Valletta Band Clubs in St.George`s Square.

Friday 11th December 2009

09:00- 13:00

Eco-Schools Outing – Children`s entertainment including guided tours of the President`s Palace and the House of Parliament, animation shows, games and falconers` shows.  Demos by the Civil Protection Department and the Armed Forces of Malta together with an educational corner by Wasteserv and 34U campaign

12:00- 12:30

Police Silent Drill Parade

13:00- 17:00

A number of artists exhibit their work 

19:00- 23:00

Maltese  Quality Winefest – First Evening

19:00- 21:00

The Freddie Mizzi Big Band

21:00- 23:00

Spiteri Lucas Band accompany Glen Vella, Godwin Lucas, Miriam Christine Borg and Debbie Scerri together with violinist Joseph Chetcuti                             

Saturday 12th December 2009

10:00- 16:00

Children`s games and activities – A varied and colourful programme incuding animation, puppet shows, face painters, magic shows and falconers, together with traditional Maltese games and water games in St George`s Square`s fountain.  Wasteserv and 34U will organise educational games.  The Malta Council for Sports will also organise martial arts shows besides a myriad of games.  An exhibition of fire engines will also be on display.  This is being organised by the Civil Protection Department.

13:00- 15:00

Dancing Galore – Flamenco, waltz, folk, ballroom and ballet by Artemocion Dance Studio, Aqua Blue Dancers, Moving Bodies, Malta Drama Centre, Cutie Cute Dancers, Happydays Dance Studio and Mystic Dancers.

15.00- 18.00 

Classic cars Parade by Old Motors Club starting from City Gate

19:00- 23:30

Maltese  Quality Winefest 2009 – 2nd Evening

19:00- 20:30

Astra Folk Group

20:30 – 21.30

Nafra Folk Ensemble

21:30- 23:30

The JazzinUp Band together with Ludvig Galea



GRTU requests urgent meeting with MRA on the Revision of the Utility Tariffs

GRTU had insisted that in line with the Electricity Directive 2003/54/EC the Malta Resources Authority had to approve of any proposed tariff revisions before they are published by Government. We are therefore very pleased that this time round things are being done according to the Directive.

On these lines GRTU sent a letter to the Malta Resources Authority to ask for an urgent appointment to discuss the new tariffs being proposed by Enemalta. GRTU quoted part of the Directive:


All Community Industry and commerce, including small and medium-sized enterprises, and all Community citizens that enjoy the economic benefits of the internal market should also be able to enjoy high levels of consumer protection, and in particular households and, where Member States deem it appropriate, small enterprises should also be able to enjoy public service guarantees, in particular with regard to security of supply and reasonable tariffs, for reasons of fairness, competitiveness and indirectly to create employment.

For too long a time small businesses in Malta, especially those with a high electricity content, have not been given reasonable tariffs with dire consequences on their competitiveness and employment capabilities. GRTU urges you to give this matter your most utmost consideration, particularly due to the prevailing current economic conditions suffered by many small and medium enterprises.

GRTU requested an urgent meeting with the MRA in order to discuss the above and how this is reflected in the new tariffs being proposed by Enemalta and the Malta Resources Authority's decision in this regard. GRTU is till today awaiting feedback and we will keep you posted on the outcome of the meeting.

Hallmarking, excessive impositions and charges on jewelers

Following a previous meeting held with the Ministry for Finance, the Economy and Investment on the above subject it was agreed that GRTU would conduct a study in order to prove that there were excessive charges, impositions and bureaucracy  on jewellers that could be eliminated. In summary GRTU argued as below:

  • Hallmarking


In view of the decision of the European Court of Justice in case 30/99 of 21/06/2007, free movement of goods-precious metals-compulsory hallmarking (, immediate action is needed so that the Consul will cease the imposition of his hallmarks at will.


The European Court of Justice held that the requirement of a hallmark consistent with the national legislation is not justified where the information provided by a hallmark struck by an independent body in another Member State is equivalent to that prescribed by the Member State of importation and intelligible to consumers of that State.

This implies that imports that are free circulating in other EU countries, according to the regulation of those other EU countries cannot be subjected to further imposition in Malta.

  • Charges

Removal the unnecessary fees imposed on the jewellery and precious metal traders as follows:

1. Authorised traders should not continue to pay the annual fee of €235 for exercising their right to have their own hallmark. One understands the imposition of a nominal, one time, registration fee, but the annual charge is in breach of free movement of trade, and discriminates against Maltese traders after the Services Directive is in action. The Ministry is requested to ensure that all impositions on this trade that are in conflict with the spirit and wordings of the Services Directive are removed.

2. The excessive overtime charge imposed by customs on all consignments of precious metals arriving by air should be removed. The charge is imposed irrespective of the number of consignments arriving and it reflects the inability of the customs department to meet its true obligations. Traders should no longer suffer this excessive administrative charge.

To further sustain our case GRTU also attached the situation found in Germany and Greece.

GRTU will be meeting the Ministry for Finance to discuss the above on the 10th of December. We will keep you posted on further developments.




Green MT signs agreement with 8 Local Councils

Green MT has launched a strategy whereby it is, with the full collaboration of Local Councils, introducing a range of initiatives related to encouraging the separation of waste and reducing therefore the amount of mixed waste disposed in the waste stream.

Within the Local Councils only a very small percentage of this waste is separated and they believe that each individual in their locality is keen to reduce and recycle waste in favour of the environment. These Local Councils have established targets for the separation of waste coming from both the residents and the commercial area.

The initiatives include:

  • Introduce or enhance sights with skips for waste separation
  • Increase the collection days for separated waste
  • Decrease the collection days for mixed waste
  • Education campaign
  • Scheme for the collection of bulky waste
  • Collection of separated waste from the business community




The Local Councils who have signed the agreement are: B'Kara; Msida; San Gwann; Santa Lucija; Siggiewi; Ta` Xbiex; Mosta; Swieqi


Small Businesses need Love – Mario Debono

 Small businesses and entrepreneurs in Malta need love. Not warm words or misty eyed smiles. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 95 per cent of all enterprises, 60 per cent of private sector employment and at least two thirds of all private sector turnovers.

No wonder then, we are heralded as the saviours of the recession, the golden children of the business family, the plucky ones who everyone relies on to pull Malta through.

We are there to employ people, make the world go round, and we're the cows whose milk keeps the government, with all the goodies it gives out to the presumably deserving, humming. Little wonder, then that the Government and the Opposition keep on repeating these warm words, and get all emotional and misty eyed when they discuss us. Given our absolute and utter dominance as employment providers, I'm not surprised at all at this. Entrepreneurs are people who want to do their own thing. Entrepreneurs know and live with but one fact – business life is all about gambling all on one throw of the dice, and calculated risk. Our fragile but roaring egos get stroked by one thing above all – sales and growth, opportunity to expand and excel. As well as a prodigious appetite for hard work and constant reinvention, you need pride, tenacity, luck and the right support from the right people at the right time to make it through. We multiply one euro into eight, and share that with our employees. We go without so as to have the resources to grow, and yes, sometimes to pay our most precious resource, our employees. Our health sometimes suffers, yet we still keep on going. Sometimes, the grave claims some of us as well, because excessive worry kills people. Employees have far less to worry about. But then again, can you imagine all Malta as employees? We would starve!

Yet, and this is what hurts, we are the most hated class of people in Malta. That's no surprise at all. Maltese people are riven  by a "greenness"  that has nothing to do with the colour of trees. In Malta, people envy with a passion moderately successful people. But they reserve their special hate for small businesses. And judging by the way people express themselves in blogs, it's a pretty righteous hate for them.

People hate us for selling them the goods and services they need. The civil service hates us because we are a model of efficiency that people used to gauge the absurd institutionalized inefficiency and waste in the public sector. The unions hate us because we refuse to bow to their demands to introduce inefficient work practices in our businesses, as they have forced the government and public entities to do. A case in point is Mater Dei. There exist about 150 different types of shift timings, none of them coordinated with the needs of the hospital, but all of them introduced to tally with the employees' extracurricular activities. These have been introduced over the years, and have become the hard to shift cholesterol on Mater Dei's arteries.  

But do governments actually help start-ups to succeed? In nearly two decades of running small businesses, I have received no direct communication from any department other than to collect Tax, VAT, and countless NSO papers. The average experience of an entrepreneur seeking direct support or engagement from the State is little more in practice than a series of website-based services, providing endless links-within-links to something called Malta Enterprise, which is not really geared to help small businesses. Its a patchy, faceless and uninspiring national service. There appears no distinction between businesses that need help to grow and thrive, and those fighting to survive.

Let us remember one thing. Entrepreneurs shoulder risk that much larger enterprises, banks included, do not bear equally. Therefore the efforts to provide help should be greater, not lesser, than that provided to large enterprises.

This time, after so many empty plaudits, someone is finally listening. Tonio and his particular sidekick, as well as the Prime Minister, seem to have decided that SME's are really a motor of the economy. That someone has crafted some budget measures that may give enough impetus to turn Malta's SME's around and point them in the right direction, to grow, internationalize and bring in the wealth they do damn well deserve. Its hard not to be initially enthusiastic about this.

The measures announced in the budget will be beneficial to Small Businesses. Just hearing them gives hope to most of us who have been trying very hard to make ends meet in this recession. The measure to provide microfinance without ransoming house, health insurance, and any other property to banks is already a start. The amounts are admittedly small, but coupled with the 40% tax credit for investment, they don't become small anymore. One has to remember that the "20 Million for Industry"scheme during last year was a great scheme that promised much, and is delivering.

But the main thing is that SME's don't have to depend on banks for all their finance needs. This is important. I am disappointed with the local bank's offering during this crisis. Their offered "help" was by demanding even more security for every euro lent, to the point that as I speak, every euro lent is being secured by treble that amount in property, insurances and other assets. Banks have become more risk averse, not less. The Government knows this, heard the representatives of small businesses confirm it, and has done something about it.

All that remains now is to put it into practice by letting some government department mire each and every hopeful application for these funds in bureaucracy and red tape, having to fill endless documentation, and employing accountants and even lawyers when they get stuck.

Yes, in typical Maltese civil service fashion, we will mess it up, unless a body from the private sector is tasked with overseeing the success of the scheme. That is the proof of the pudding, where we separate the men from the boys. Will Tonio be courageous and do what's needed ? Will he have the balls to stand up to his civil service advisers?

We have to remember the monumental cock up done with the EIB funds issue some time ago. This scheme was entrusted to the banks, who killed it so well and so efficiently that no one benefited. The banks want to lend their money, not somebody else's. And they would much rather give consumer credit than business credit. Its just so much more lucrative.

But this government remains a government of contrasts and uncoordinated limbs, and it's unbelievable how it manages to mess up a feel good factor. With one hand, it is offering all this hope for new businesses. With the other hand, bands of Enemalta Hit Squads are roaming the country cutting off the electricity supply to businesses in difficulties. Hit squads from other entities are evicting others from factories, whilst daily the businessman is being faced with bills he cannot cope with in these hard times. The Tax Amnesty, a good thing, has such tight timelines that accountants are being driven mad to get things ready in time. The MFSA seems to be churning out fines by the day.

 Is this the way to help small businesses in these hard times? If the Government is going to be driven by the civil service, the civil service will just demand their timely pound of flesh and God help those who cannot pay it. And it will kill these schemes before they get off the ground.

When is the Prime Minister going to see that there is only one pair of hands, and not let the government appear like some many handed Indian Shiva?

On another subject, how about seeing how Maltese businesses are faring at the moment? Can Government publish some data to this effect? What businesses need is not rhetoric but reality. We are in dire need of business surveys with the cold hard facts. How many businesses started? How many failed? Why? What could they have done better? Are government induced costs killing enterprise?

Christmas is coming, and I have my wish list as well for Father Christmas. No need to do it all at one go, over three years should be enough. Should someone wish to listen, its this:

  • Create a business levy and couple this with the National Fund set up during the budget to invest directly back into the entrepreneur economy by lowering corporation tax but ring-fence it to help failing businesses so as to reduce the business failure rate among start-ups by 10 per cent every five years.
  • Create a national networking service to match businesses with potential customers. Get our businesses to go abroad and seek business deals elsewhere. The Malta Enterprise scheme is good. If needs be, get Air Malta to offer very special rates for businesses for a year or two. Use the Broadcasting Authority to make it a mandatory requirement for TV and Radio stations run more programmes about entrepreneurship and to publicize initiatives.
  • Create go-between "business matrons" to join up the dots in person, not just online, and get the people from Malta Enterprise into the streets to visit businesses, not stay behind desks. Work with private initiatives forums to identify groups of entrepreneurs that go and seek business together.
  • Create a magazine, and website for entrepreneurs. Have SMEs compete to be featured, and honour those who perform best. Showcase real talent and create a live community.
  • Make entrepreneurship and workplace mentoring a key part of the curriculum in schools and further education, with tax breaks for businesses that invest in well-run work placements, and an Entrepreneur Council that will reports to government and the country at large each year on how well the entrepreneur economy is doing.

Entrepreneurs want to be loved – but with concrete and assertive actions not words. As Eliza Doolittle sang to Freddy in My Fair Lady: "Don't talk of love, burning above, if you're in love, show me … show me now."

After all, at the end of the day, as someone so famously said….."its the economy, stupid" That is what keeps Governments up, or brings them down.

Opening Hours for Shops

(Christmas Period)

1st November 2009 – 7th January 2010

The Commerce Dicision of the Ministry of Finance, the Economy and Investment hereby notifies that by virtue of LN 1 of 2006, the opening hours for shops (retail and wholesale) during the period 1st November 2009 and 7th January 2010, shall be as follows: 

4.00 am – 10.00 pm

(Mondays to Sundays) 

For more information, kindly contact the Business Care Unit of the Commerce Division on tel. 21226688





Bilateral Cooperation: Malta – Libya

 GRTU has been asked to submit any outstanding issues and any other new initiatives for bilateral cooperation to include in a discussion of the 26th Maltese-Libya Joint Commission.

Members wishing to put forward their views should send an email to Abigail Mamo on by this week.