SME Chamber

Successful meeting with Min Chris Cardona and Parl Sec Edward Zammit Lewis

Executive Council has yesterday held a very successful meeting with the new
Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, Dr Chris Cardona, and
Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth, Dr Edward
Zammit Lewis at the GRTU office, where GRTU presented a Dossier.

President Paul Abela welcomed the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary saying
GRTU was pleased of their nomination and of having given us an early
opportunity to meet the Executive Council. He explained that GRTU has undergone
a drastic change since Malta joined the EU and has now become very active and
very supportive to its members in this way. We have become pro active and
constantly reacting, presenting proposals and making opinions. GRTU is today
represented strongly at EU level.                                                                   

Minister Cardona expressed his pleasure at meeting GRTU officials formally for
the first time. This he said however was not the first time we met and the
Government wants to keep close contact. Government targets to start
implementing the electoral manifest in the shortest time possible. The Minister
said that the sectors represented by GRTU are priorities for Government and we
appreciate the importance the of the sector also for job creation. Dr Cardona
emphasised again that not only will regular contact with stakeholders be held
but they will go to stakeholders and not make them come to them. They will keep
this commitment with GRTU apart from the regular meetings that will be required
during this legislation. Parliamentary Secretary Zammit Lewis continued on the
Minister's remarks and reemphasised that support for small businesses will be a
priority for the Ministry as the creation of employment opportunities is the
main priority.

Director General Vincent Farrugia stated that we have vast experience and GRTU
can be of service to this Government to report what was working and what was
not working. He reminded the Hon guests that employment is highest amongst
small and micro enterprises. A main problem that exists in the better
functioning of the labour market is that adequate matchmaking of skill needs.

first issue discussed was the rent reform, which has been almost 5 years at the
top of the agenda for GRTU. GRTU once again emphasised what an unjust situation
this has created. To start solving the situation Government has to issue the
property market value index. Protection for enterprise must come first and
foremost. It is unacceptable that after such long years of building a name for
themselves they are just thrown out. 

also stated that while welcoming the 45 year lease extended to commercial rents
in Valletta it was however very negative that Government left out those areas
where it felt it could get a better deal. If Government knew there stood a
chance that the situation for certain business would be compromised because of
their location it is even more important that they are given rights to be
safeguarded. Similar is the unjust situation with the City Gate shops where
only one was granted a long lease, the others were left with a 6 month renewal.
GRTU called on the embellishment of city gate which would not cost millions but
would at least get it out of the sorry state it is in as there is such room for

it came to schemes GRTU stated also that the Micro Guarantee has not started to
work yet due to bureaucracy and business first should be better able to guide
businesses and make more effort to ensure businesses are helped and follow up
is made after the service. The Business First Council, set up to analyse
progress and tackle problems only met once after the opening of Business First
and no communication after that was ever made. Also GRTU members were eager to
see the Employment Aid Programme and the Training Aid Framework reinstated and
called for the e-commerce scheme to also be reopen.

important point mentioned was the potential for internationalisation as the
Maltese market is very limited. GRTU emphasised that we need a new strategy for
Libya and Government needs to start believing in business in Libya and urge
banks to help Maltese businesses in Libya. China was also an important market
as they are very keen on anything to do with the Mediterranean. More support
should be given by Government in this regard. The Minister stated that
improvements could be done in both our internationalisation efforts and the
branding system. Whereas before branding was fragmented by the different Authorities
the Government will attempt to make branding more value for money by combining
more areas of interest.

unfair competition created by goods coming through the catamaran which evaded
VAT and Eco Tax is something which needs to be tackled with immediate affect.
We want strong enforcement officers to tackle this unfair situation. Likewise
the Eco Tax system should be revised as this is also grossly unfair. There are
many other products that could be included in the Eco Tax system to better
spread the burden on all products and alleviate the burden on some products
that carried a very high Eco Tax, an Eco Tax much larger than that in the rest
of the EU.

also argued that it is very difficult for farmers and fishermen to have
sufficient income to sustain themselves all year round. It is therefore
acceptable for them to have some type of other income to sustain themselves.
Today however a farmer and fisherman who has another economic activity looses
the opportunity of having a low income tax rate on the income related to
agricultures because he looses the status of full time farmer. This system is
unfair and a farmer or fisherman who's main income is derived from his vocation
as farmer and fisherman should not loose the fiscal advantage. GRTU also argued
that farmers and fisherman should be regarded like other self-employed and
enterprises when it comes to Malta Enterprise schemes as far as they do not
benefit from the same incentive from somewhere else.

situation of Ta` Qali was also mention, a situation that persists after 25
years. The current state is that some operators have signed while some have not
because of many reasons but it seems there are still more problems.

also mentioned the unfair competition coming from free riders that compete with
established businesses that without any license fill a van with goods according
to the occasion, such as selling flowers on valentines day and mothers day, and
go around all of Malta and sell these goods at the detriment of establishments
that pay licences, permits and undergo regular checks to ensure

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