Fabian Demicoli

Increased GDP growth through support of SMEs – GRTU Budget Proposal 2013


GRTU's Budget 2013 Proposals are this
year geared to promote policies according to the SBA's 10 policy dimensions (1)
Entrepreneurship, (2) Second chance, (3) Think Small First, (4) Responsive
Administration, (5) State aid and Public procurement, (6) Access to finance,
(7) Single market, (8) Skills and innovations, (9) Environment, and (10)
Internationalization.

In all negotiations on GRTU's proposals with the Ministry
of Finance and other Ministries related to SME performance in Malta GRTU
emphasized these 10 dimensions. GRTU believes that the value added of small and
micro enterprises in Malta can increase with immediate effect, to the benefit
of Malta's rate of GDP growth if in Budget 2013 Government funds more
initiatives to support small and micro enterprise. The financing of these
schemes will be through increased revenue to Government resulting from growth
in economic activity and increased employment and utilization of poorly
utilised economic resources.

Our approach for this year's Budget
is steady as it goes. GRTU has been in discussions with Government since July,
which included the analysis of the economic situation, the Pre-Budget document
and the annual reports on SMEs. GRTU carried out research and consulted its
members and together with the Executive Council presented a holistic set of
proposals.

GRTU officers have this morning
presented details of the GRTU Budget proposals doc through a press conference
at GRTU. In emphasizing the importance of these proposals GRTU Director General
Vincent Farrugia stated "GRTU expects Budget 2013 to highlight the growth of
small and micro enterprises in Malta. The social and economic potential for
employment and increased social and economic cohesion is great and should the
majority of GRTU proposals be incorporated in Budget 2013, we see no reason why
the rate of GDP growth projected to be only 1.6% for 2013 and 2.1% for 2014
should not at least reach the 3.5% annual growth enjoyed by Malta in the
pre-recession period".

In addition to the pre-budget
proposals other very important issues for our sectors that require direct
attention and input are dealt with the Ministers concerned on a first hand
basis.

Summary of the proposals

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship
careers scheme for unemployed, school leavers and employees to receive income
for up to 1 year while in training

Additional
school training in entrepreneurship and special sandwich and evening courses

Support
schemes for SMEs made permanent, tax credit complemented with grant schemes,
schemes should give businesses more trust and reward

 

Second Chance

Malta
ranks one of the worst on the issue

Support
SMEs that have suffered effects of recession

Incentives
for entrepreneurs selling a business to invest some of its proceeds in other enterprise
activity

Enabling
those who simply cannot pay their debts a fresh start so that they again can
make a meaningful contribution to society

Excessive
punishments of entrepreneurs with threat of prison sentences as fines
(multi)should be Civil debts

 

Think Small First

Provides
the necessary funding so that SME tests are effectively implemented and does
not remain a dead letter

Publication
of user's guidelines to explain the requirements imposed by a new instrument in
sufficient time before it enters into force

Give
access to social partners of the Legal Notice check list to make the
consultation process transparent and accountable

Obligation
that any change in law effecting buisness needs to go to the Management and
Efficiency Unit for scrutiny

 

Responsive Administration

Removing
the need of audits for the smallest companies and exempt non-trading companies
from the audit requirement

Analysing
if the reductions in interest rate announced by the ECB are being passed on by
the banks to users

Government
Authorities in no way are to charge the private sector for their services

Special
training programmes to all civil servants and public entities personnel dealing
with business to support a more positive approach to enterprise.

Special
hands on support is provided in the Localities

 

State Aid & Public Procurement

Government
to insist with the EU Commission on removal of minimum thresholds and the
establishment of a language tool

Provide
funds, equipment and man-power to Maltese SMEs to support them in their bid and
to successfully perform

25%
of new Gov business to small businesses. Small businesses should be given
direct help when accessing projects through public procurement that makes up
for their lack of resources

Small
business friendly procurement policies across the public sector and an
'ombudsman' role which incorporates the task of challenging contracting
authorities on behalf of small firms after a valid complaint is submitted

Guiding
private investment through schemes in areas as business incubation facilities,
port activity, marinas, ICT centres, etc…

Reinstate
eCommerce scheme for the creation of websites

Access
to Finance

Incentives
to the commercial banks to further improve their willingness to provide loans
to SMEs

Continue
to support and extend the Micro Credit scheme and especially support the
creative industry and widen the definition of creative work

Implementation
of the Social Enterprise Policy Document that supports eligible social enterprise
projects

Extension
of the "20 million for industry" scheme

 

Single Market & Internationalisation

Introduction
of new schemes for SMEs looking for new opportunities

Focus
on boosting export for SMEs by providing direct help to find opportunities and
hand holding in export

Organized
fair participation. Both B2B and B2C. Participation in trade fairs is expensive
and should be supported

Tackle
unfair competition, especially goods coming through the catamaran and evading
particular taxation

Skills and Innovation

Schemes
of support to acquire IT capabilities to enable them to purchase and sell
online.

Further
extension of the ERDF scheme to reimburse 25% of the wage costs, rent, leasing
and utility bills for a maximum of 24 months and to extend the scheme to cover
also firms who do not employ

Improve
links between the education and industry

Wave
of accreditation for skilled self-employed and manual workers

Provide
more basic courses by MCAST in Gozo

 

Environment

Implement
‘Producer Responsibility Enforcement Committee' announced in last year's Budget
speech

Enforcement
Unit is beefed up

Immediate
implementation of the WEEE Directive

The
exemption that was made available for reduced rates of payment for first
registration of RCVs reinstated on a permanent basis

The
devolution of Wasteserve MRF Operations to Private Industry

Scrapping
scheme extended for commercial vehicles and also to the replacement of plant
and machinery

Reform
user change charge by Arms and 50% reduction of phase meter rents

Extend
existing MRA Resource Efficiency Schemes and increase Government's contribution

Incentives
and reliefs to sectors deemed as intensive consumers, this includes a night
rate

Favourable
fixed feed in tariff for large scale renewable energy projects

Incentives
for predictability: fixed price for one and two calendar years, a percentage
reduction if bill if prepaid

Across
the board schemes for reducing energy use in commercial buildings

 

Locality

Allow
for change of use for empty buildings to be used for activities of an economic
value. Tax incentives and grants for more office space to be created in the
localities

Available
empty buildings incentivized for use specialized homes for the elderly

Incentives
for property owners to convert property into boutique hotels or B&B tourist
accommodation.

Reduction
of the Host Family licence per bed which would equal the licence per bed paid
by hotels

 

Valletta

Revision
of the current CVA legislation

A
relief in parking places

New
car park facilities

 

Ta` Qali Crafts Village

Construction
of a public building housing offices, meeting rooms and a multipurpose hall

Necessary
infrastructural, lighting and embellishment

Reduction
to VAT element to 7% on Maltese Crafts which is highly labour intensive

Incentive
for craftsmen building/ upgrading factories/ workshops

 

Employment

A
campaign highlight the importance of women participating in the labour market

The
present tax benefit scheme for those benefitting from child care facilities
should be made easier and extended

Proposed
child care centre standards should be revisited

The
present tax credit scheme should be extended for those women who need elderly
care workers to assist in the care of dependants

ETC/MCAST
should set up courses free of charge targeted directly at green jobs

 

Property market

Give
a reduction of 50% on tax payable on purchase to first time buyers

National
house price database to improve transparency

Payments
due to requisitioned property owners

Reforming
the AIP system in order to make it easier for extra-Community people to buy
property.

Allow
construction companies to deduct VAT paid from the 12% withholding tax

Commercial
Development permits are too high

 

Pensions

To
support active ageing, Government should not tax working pensioners on their
pension

A
pensioner stops benefiting from NI benefits but still pays on the same levels
for NI when compared to younger workers that can benefit from NI benefits such
a payment of sick leave. This anomaly should be addressed

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