Fabian Demicoli

GRTU President speaks against additional red tape and stringent measures


GRTU President Paul Abela has this week actively
participated in a round-table discussion on the 2013 Country-Specific
Recommendations for Malta, organized by the European Commission Representation
in Malta. Malta saw the close of last month with the Commission
recommending that Malta be placed under an Excessive Deficit Procedure.

This
week's discussion focused on the areas the European Commission outlined as
areas constituting significant challenges for Malta and requiring reform such
as the financial sector and efficiency of the justice system, energy challenges
for Malta, energy and transport sector emissions, sustainability of public
finances, tax compliance, pensions and healthcare reform, the labour market,
education and skills.

In his intervention Mr Abela emphasized that it is
important that the livelihood of SMEs is safeguarded during whatever transition
that will be required. SMEs are struggling continuously to safeguard the
viability of their enterprises and maintaining employment levels.

The European Commission expressed concerns on property
related bank loans which it said required analysis in view of the different categories.
Mr Abela pointed out that Real Estate needs to be looked at in two different
categories – business property and residences. He emphasised that the majority
business owners tend to buy their property rather than rent it from another
landlord so that they can dispose of it as they wish when they come to their
retiring age.

On Public finances and tax compliance the European Commission
has outlined that Malta has taken no relevant action to reduce indebtedness in
corporate taxation. Mr Abela stated that enterprises in Malta are already
heavily regulated. Penalties and interest rates are already very taxing on
enterprises. It is unjust and hard on SMEs to impose on them such high and
harsh tax penalties. Most SMEs suffer a lot on such issues which range from
business closures to imprisonment. Mr Abela pointed out that although tax dues
were reduced this factor is still a burden on small enterprises since for them
dues are still too high. He also added that such penalties are effectively red
tape on small business owners and are unjustified. Paul Abela reminded the
Commission officials that unlike them who have a fixed guaranteed monthly pay,
business have to struggle to earn a living on a daily basis and are subject to
many factors which they have to watch and take into consideration that can
affect the viability of their business. Mr Abela also mentioned the unfair
competition of illegal importation.

With regards to energy efficient measures Mr Abela
pointed out that he urges Government to achieve all the objectives mentioned in
the Electoral programme and also emphasized that the promise made to deduct 25%
on electricity bills should be kept since it will be the first step in the
right direction. Furthermore, if this promise will be kept Maltese businesses
will be more competitive in Europe since this measure will reduce a major
running cost to businesses. Mr Abela also referred to a suggestion GRTU had put
foreword on night tariffs which would be beneficial for businesses.

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