Fabian Demicoli

Resolving Pending Issues

This week GRTU held a series of meetings with high Government officials including the Prime Minister to resolve a number of long standing issues. Among the issues discussed where:

 

The internationalisation programme

GRTU is pushing Government to expand the assistance programme for internationalisation so that companies wishing to develop new b2b relationships and creating new complimentary business arrangements with foreign companies both within the EU territory and more especially in countries as far away as China, India, the Gulf States, Africa and Latin America, receive maximum support from Malta Enterprise. GRTU is confident that more funds will become available for more and better streamlined business relationships. The emphasis will be on businesses that really want to seek and establish new business opportunities. newSTRING will be giving more information as schemes are developed.

The Micro-credit scheme

GRTU has made a strong request to the Prime Minister to get the scheme moving. GRTU continues to insist that the excuse given by the Minister of Finance, that the delay is all due to the EU regulations, is not acceptable. Only the hard headed keep pushing on a road that is too long and wining. GRTU had proposed from the onset that the scheme should first be based on a straight forward bank guarantee support scheme initiated by Malta Enterprise on the same basis as the old guarantee scheme in support of firms that suffered from the removal of the old protective levy system. Essentially this would have meant that firms applied with their favourite Bank for the micro credit and it would give the credit rating of the client and the Bank assessment of the project proposed recommending to Malta Enterprise to issue a Bank interest subsidy. If the credit line of the bank could not be extended without additional collateral there would be a recommendation by Malta Enterprise to issue a supportive Bank Guarantee for the amount not exceeding €25,000. The scheme could have been implemented as promised as of 1st January 2010. Thousands of small enterprises would have benefitted by now and together they would have created a tremendous multiplier effect within the large small business community of Malta and Gozo, but bureaucrats never learn. They wouldn't be bureaucrats if they would learn. The situation is that effectively nothing has happened and we all have to await September of possibly October and any body who thinks that the recession is over should better rethink and face reality.

The new impositions on water bowser operators

Minister George Pullicino is right to address the long delayed problem effecting, so damagingly, the water table. The project to impose meters and estimate the quantity being drone to address a replenishing solution is commendable and GRTU as representative organisation of all water bowser operators has found no objection. But GRTU has strongly objected to the Ministry's intention to impose satellite tracking mechanism on all privately owned trucks. GRTU contends that Government does not own the fleet of truck bowsers and has no right to impose on truck owners Government's enforcement operation. It is Government's responsibility to avoid illicit boreholes and Government has no right to forcefully enlist bowser operators as unpaid enforcement tracking units. GRTU has proposed alternative systems thus avoiding the issue of directives to bowser owners not to comply. GRTU is confident that a solution will be found

Scheme to encourage the promotion of low emission trucks used by carriers

In discussions with Minister George Pullicino, the Permanent Secretary at MRRA Dr Chris Ciantar and WasteServ CEO Vince Magri, a solution has been finally found to the long standing issue of the unnecessary burdens faced by waste carriers to change their waste carrying vehicles and simultaneously pay the hefty registration tax on each truck and also face the rocketing landfill fees. As a result of this special scheme agreed with the GRTU waste carriers will now be assisted to face these financial burdens. GRTU will be explaining to all waste carriers next Sunday the details of the agreed scheme.

The abrupt withdrawal of the photovoltaic subsidy scheme

The photovoltaic support scheme was abruptly suspended by the Malta Resources Authority. It has since transpired that a number of operators had complained with the Malta Resources Authority. After strong protests by the alternative energy trade group at GRTU. It transpired that a number of operators had complained to the MRA that a number of individuals were sending abusive application for clients for assistance under the scheme. MRA took the short cut of suspending the scheme irrespective of the commercial damage caused to many bona fide traders. Members of GRTU had applied correctly, on approval had ordered the materials, letters of credit were issued and agreements with clients were signed. The abrupt abolition of the scheme has placed many businesses in commercial jeopardy. Further more many clients who were convinced to go for photovoltaic systems are now becoming highly suspect of the whole process. GRTU believes that this issue has been very badly managed and that Government was ill advised to act illogically. The GRTU alternative energy group has discussed this issue with the ministry and a new scheme will be advertised shortly accompanied by a significant promotion campaign. The duration of the new scheme will be longer than the previous as GRTU is assured that enough funds will be allocated to meet all potential demand. GRTU is also proposing the formation of a monitoring and advisory committee so that Government would be assisted by the private sector to ensure that markets and schemes are operated diligently.

The Marsaxlokk refurbishment project

GRTU has for many years been striving so that the Marsaxlokk sea front is upgraded to a level not unlike the Valletta waterfront. GRTU represents almost all shop owners bars and restaurants in M'Xlokk and believe it is in the interest of all that a quick solution is found to the reallocation of the monti, at least during week days. The first stage of the arrangement of GRTU was that the commencement of works on the water front promenade and the monitoring of the works so that everything is done according to plan and at the second stage GRTU is insisting that proper arrangements are put in place for M'Xlokk to be given the uplift it so badly desires. GRTU insists on a proper share of tourism to the south of Malta and it is only with the cooperation of the GRTU business community and local council that attractive location in the south like Marsaxlokk can be enhanced to meet the new demands of tourists and Maltese customers.

The gas distributors license

GRTU insists that the gas distributors` license is a contractual obligation between the GRTU, the gas distributors and Government. This agreement is clearly stated black on white that it is automatically renewable every year. The agreement also obliges gas distributors to distribute gas cylinders of the corporation (an obligation which has now been inherited by Gasco) and other private operators within the territory allotted to each distributor. MRA is trying to force gas distributors to reapply for a new license. This is not acceptable to GRTU unless of course MRA is willing to purchase the old license on the same basis Government bought the old bus owners licenses. GRTU is insisting with the Prime Minister that authorities established under the law cannot be expected to act in defiance of the compensatory implication of their decisions. It is after all the nationalist party Government declared policy to compensate business when businesses suffer commercial losses due to Government action.

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