Fabian Demicoli

Retailers on the Rack

 Parliamentary Secretaries Jason Azzopardi and Mario De Marco should have never imposed on retailers what for GRTU is unacceptable: penalties and threats of loss of business license, not for any illicit trading (the country is full of it!) but for servicing customers at an hour when most people are out relaxing after a day's work.

 

Confectioneries and other food stores in many localities in Malta served the public late in the evening selling food items, bread, wine and beer and all of those items consumers usually need to take with them to a BBQ, for a party or for home consumption. These shops sell hampers in Christmastime and on other occasions. During Festa days in the town or village these shops put out tables and help the locality make merry. Under the category of confectioneries, other sellers come in like pastizzeriji, kiosks and take-aways. All self-employed persons earning a living for themselves, their families and their employees. These are people who  do not register to receive state moneys, pay their licenses and go about their business without much fuss and grumble.

The old Trading Licences Act did not allow them really all the freedom they practiced but in practice customers in Marsascala, Valletta, Sliema, St Julians, San Gwann, Iklin, Saint Paul's Bay, Qormi, Fgura, Marsalforn, Xlendi and practically all over Malta and Gozo throughout the whole year and in summer especially, could shop food and alcohol drinks without anyone going to check what has been purchased or what the shop owner sold and the reason is obvious: this is NOT Saudi Arabia. No one in Malta searches the person to see if any alcohol has been bought.

But now Mario Demarco and Jason Azzopardi, one operating from the Office of the Prime Minister and the other from the Ministry of Finance, came in mid-2011 and imposed this Law. It is puritanism version 2011. No retailer can sell to someone a bottle of wine or beer after 9pm and if the retailer dares meet the consumer's demand he will have his shop shut by the Police and have his License suspended for six months on first fault and permanently on the second. Plus he will also get incredible hefty fines. It is tragic. Imagine if it were a simple labourer, an employee member of a workers union. Try denying anyone his living. But it's ok if he's a self-employed. For these it is ok! They are only self-employed after all!

What nonsense says GRTU. This bit of absolute nonsense now has to go to Parliament. GRTU is sending the message to all MP'S very clearly! Those who vote in favour of this attack on retailers will be Named and Shamed at Election time by GRTU.

GRTU will issue specific directives to all self-employed and business owners not to vote for these candidates who say yes to this act. For GRTU they would have declared themselves as enemies of retailers and self-employed.

In 2011, GRTU will not allow this type of legislation to go through as if nothing matters. This proposed Law is preposterous. It is regressive and absolutely unacceptable. It sends us tumbling back to years now deeply buried.

It is a Law that hits like a bullet straight at GRTU's heart. WE WILL NOT HAVE IT.

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