Fabian Demicoli

GRTU presents its Budget proposals for 2014 – Building confidence, Driving growth


GRTU has presented a comprehensive set of proposals aimed at
boosting SMEs. In his foreword GRTU President Paul Abela stated that GRTU
continues to emphasise how much we need to keep pushing forward to ‘build
confidence and drive growth'. He insisted that enterprises need to be supported
better also through the improvement in their working environment.

The set of proposals presented are the result of
intensive consultation with our members and research of the best practices that
have proven very successful in other countries. GRTU, as the largest national
representative of SMEs, feels that many of the schemes mentioned are the key to
unlocking the full potential of SMEs and giving them aid where it really
matters. Amongst GRTU's proposals are the following:     

                                                             

1. Relaunching the
Micro Invest Scheme.

2. Establishment
of a Business Angels Matching Service and a platform for crowd funding as well
as tapping into venture capital. All of these with some facilitation by Government
could render results that far outreach the initial investment.

3. Facilitate of
start-ups especially with regards access to finance, which is essentially the
biggest obstacle, through cash-injections and the financial start-up scheme
which involves covering the costs of renting a premises for a very short period
and the capped pay of the owner for one month. This would help because it would
give the minimum amount of time required to get some initial clients and start
building a name.

4. Increasing the
services offered by the business incubation and making it more dynamic.

5. Increasing the
number of routes to Malta and attracting tourists during the slower season.

6. Boosting the
crafts sector through the organisation of the Crafts Village, establishing a
national crafts policy, quality testing and certification system for locally
produced crafts, and reduction of VAT to 7% on such goods, incentives to
upgrade factories and workshops and helping the crafts sector export.

7. An E-Commerce
strategy including awareness raising on the potential of e-commerce and free
expert advice to enterprises on the subject on what systems they could use,
which would be accompanied by incentives to set up such systems.

8. Revision of the
eco taxation mechanism.

9. Schemes to
encourage investment in employment and training that are not time barred,
simpler in their application and reimbursed by a specified deadline.

10. Increasing
activities in the localities though permitting for change of use of empty
buildings to back-office, etc and accompanied by a tax-credit incentive,
incentives for the establishment of boutique hotels and B&Bs in the
localities as well as investment in the general infrastructure of the
localities through private public partnerships.

11. Granting of
title of emphyteusis in lieu of lease to private enterprises over Government
owned properties. GRTU also encourages Government to consider the sale of
properties that have been leased or granted under title of emphyteusis to the
private sector for a substantial number of years.

12. Incentivising
the involvement of the private sector in healthcare.

13. Scheme for the
restructuring of current industrial facilities. Some of these are currently in
very precarious situations.

14. Financial
measures that support innovative investments projects by SMEs, providing
research assistants with subsidised pays, an R&D Research and Development
Grant Scheme and a dedicated helpdesk.

15. Creation of
networks for internationalisation. This would help businesses expand into new
markets and increase their exports through increased collaboration and sharing
of contacts.

16. Increasing
competition in land based gaming and regulate illegal operations in this
sector. Introduction of High Stake control and limit the amounts played on the
Hot Numbers.

17. Fiscal schemes
to attract the buy-to-let sector through lower VAT rates and fixed income tax
rate for income generated from the rent of properties. GRTU also called for the
clarification in the regulation of the applicable licences required to lease a
property.

18. Encourage SMEs
to take a more proactive approach in the servicing of large scale renewable.

19. Immediate
Introduction of the Property Market Value Index.

20. Establishment
of an Early Warning Foundation where consultants offer free advice to
enterprises in difficulty on the improvement of their management skills and
helps them in their banking negotiations. The foundation would help companies
avoid bankruptcy and help those that have no other choice to extract themselves
from impossible situations and live to fight another day.

21. Upgrade of
current boat yards and tackle the shortage of marinas and pontoon berths.

22. Incentives for
upgrade and investment in commercial vehicles and Limited Mileage Incentive.

23. Overhaul of the
National Policy in respect to recovery of mixed waste and the setting up of a
Producer Responsibility Enforcement Committee to monitor the implementation and
enforcement of the Packaging Waste Directive, WEEE, Construction and Demolition
Waste, End of life Vehicles and Batteries.

24. Act on the
injustice whereby the percentage charged by banks or by the operator (in the
case of smart cards) for electronic payments is charged not only on the price
of the product but also on the VAT element.

25. A widespread scheme for Gozo enterprises to help them mitigate the
transport cost of transit between Malta and Gozo. Increase the efficiency of
the Gozo Channel and set up a scheme to mitigate the imbalance in employment
many Gozitan enterprises go through between the summer and the winter months.

26. Introduction of a night tariff and the decrease in rental fees on the
meters for commercial users.

27. Revisit the new strategy of online public procurement and set up a
helpdesk to help SMEs with the process. GRTU also proposes reducing the costs
for tendering.

28. Remove the need of audits for micro companies and exempt non-trading
companies from the audit requirement.

29. Severely beef up efforts to tackle VAT and Eco Tax evasion on goods
coming into Malta and sold for commercial purposes.

30. Specific course for females in entrepreneurship and a campaign
targeting women and their role in society and the economy.

31. Exposing young people with ideas to potential investors. Fostering
entrepreneurship amongst our young through courses and taking inspiring
entrepreneurs to schools to give their testimony.

32. Allow self-employed to receive their pension early where this is
possible without the need to remain idle for one year. On having access to
pension individuals should also be allowed to continue working without having
to pay for NI.

33. Foster deeper
relationships between business and academia and initiative a wave of
accreditation for skilled self-employed and manual workers. GRTU also calls for
the facilitation of transfer of skills and the establishment of Sector Skills
Councils (SSCs).

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