Fabian Demicoli

GRTU takes importers’ problems to Brussels

Food importers are still both angry and confused about their
obligations when it comes to importing food products.

Several importers
continue to claim that health certificates are being asked for, when they are
not required, and many blame the Veterinary Department for complications that
have arisen with their consignments.

Speaking to this newspaper, GRTU’s
director general Vince Farrugia said: “The problems and bureaucratic delays are
caused not only by the Veterinary Division which is perhaps the worst, but by
all.”Asked whether importers were still facing problems Farrugia replied:
“Yes and how! I have asked the legal office of EuroCommerce in Brussels to help
us present a legal case with the Commission. “My colleague and GRTU
Vice-President Mario Debono has raised the matter directly with the Internal
Market DG I Brussels last week and our representative, Ms Sylvia Sciberras in
the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels raised the matter
in the INT sub-committee of EESC of which she is a member representing Maltese
enterprise only this Tuesday.” On his part the director general of the
Veterinary Division, Carmel Lino Vella told MaltaToday that he has not received
complaints from importers recently. Vella said he had not received complaints
from the GRTU, the Chamber of Commerce or any of the individual importers. “We
even asked the Chamber of Commerce for a meeting but have heard nothing from
it.” Contacted by MaltaToday, a Chamber spokesperson said it had referred
the problems its members encountered to the ministry for agriculture, and that
it had not got back to the Veterinary Division about the meeting because the
officials responsible were abroad. “The Chamber intends to meet the Veterinary
Division to explain its point of view, but the chairman and his vice are away
from the island,” the spokesperson said. The GRTU is taking the problems
seriously and Farrugia told MaltaToday: “We are calling an Extraordinary General
Meeting of importers at GRTU tomorrow at 5pm to obtain all details from all
sectors so that we can beef our case.” MaltaToday is now informed that
importers of meat products from outside the EU were not being allowed to sell
their products since 1 May, but one importer told this newspaper that he was not
facing problems in this respect. In this respect Vince Farrugia told MaltaToday:
“I also talked to a delegation from New Zealand who where shocked at the way the
Maltese authorities are handling their exports to Malta after so many years
of excellent trading relations between the two countries.”

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