Importers, Distributors and Retailers Economic Group
This Economic Group aims to:
- Increase membership within the Economic Group, by reaching out to potential members and support those existing
- Commence campaigning against the free-of-charge mentality
Mr Andrew W.J. Mamo - Chairman
Mr Frank V. Farrugia - Deputy Chairman
Mr Reginald Fava
Mr. Martin Borg
Mr. Charles A. Zahra
Mr John B. Scicluna
The Business Sections that fall under this Economic Group are:
The Importers Economic Group Executive Board met eight times during 2011, one of the meetings was held prior to the March elections while the other seven meetings were held by the newly elected Board. The Economic Group has the following Business Sections that report to it: HealthCare; Importers; and Wines, Spirits, Beverages & Tobacco.
The need for effective market surveillance was on the Board’s agenda for several of its meetings. It was also the main subject at a meeting held in November between the Economic Group Chairman Mr. Gino Cutajar and the key public sector players in the area namely the Chairman and the Director General of the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, the Director General Customs and the Commissioner and Director Operations VAT. The Malta Chamber expressed its concerns at the increasing numbers of street vendors, many of them selling goods at such low prices that they were presumably counterfeit. Another issue was the sale of furniture by Italian firms directly to Maltese consumers. Finally there was the issue of language because various products, such as detergents, were not in English or Maltese. The authorities explained that they had been doing joint inspections three times a week since September but so far they had only found three cases. They stated that could not stop all vehicles just to check whether they were carrying counterfeit goods. This was why they stressed the importance of being given leads that they could then follow up.
The issue of Eco Contributions too was high on the agenda of most of the Board’s meetings, as indeed it has been for the last few years. The subject was the main topic of discussion during a Malta Chamber meeting in July with Parliamentary Secretary Mario De Marco in which the Economic Group Chairman participated. The meeting clarified various issues, such as the application forms for refunds; the rectification needed to cover the six month period not covered by the current exemptions/refunds regulations; the possibility of introducing full refunds instead of the present maximum of 80%; and the possibility of introducing refunds in those cases where partial double payment existed.
In July the Economic Group Chairman participated in a Malta Chamber delegation that held a meeting with the Customs Department to discuss the reduction of administrative burdens. During the meeting the Malta Chamber expressed its concerns at the hefty overtime, travelling expenses and subsistence allowances that firms had to pay to have Customs Officers release their imports; it also urged the introduction of online payment services as this would eliminate the need for operators to call physically at the Department to effect payments. The Customs Department had reported on the efforts being made to establish a ‘single window’ for clearance of goods requiring services/approval from other departments; it also indicated that the Authorities were considering the possibility of establishing a new corps to safeguard Government revenue on the lines of the Italian Guardia di Finanza.
The Executive Board discussed and drew up its views and suggestions on the Pre-Budget document. The Board’s recommendations covered: the need for summer half days in the public service to come to an end; the problem of lack of enforcement, which meant that whenever operators do not pay all the taxes and duties applicable they bring about unfair trading situations with an unlevel playing field; and the need to stimulate the economy – because it was important for people to be left with more money in hand so that they would be in a position to spend more.
Finally, the Executive Board received reports from the Chairmen of the Business Sections that fall under it on the work being undertaken by the said Sections and discussed the matter as necessary.
The Importers, Distributors and Retailers Economic Group Executive Board held five meetings during the year. It dedicated the first meeting of the year to draw up its Work Plan for 2010. Its next two meetings were taken up to evaluate in detail the request by a number of members to form a new Medicinals Business Section, separate and distinct from the long-existing Health Care Business Section. To avoid having a number of overlapping satellite Business sections the Board found a solution for representation of the members concerned in the Health Care Business Section Executive Committee, which solution found the approval of all the parties concerned.
Another topic dealt with by the Economic Group Executive Board concerned the pre-slinging of conventional cargo at the Valletta Gateway Terminals. Meetings were held between the Board, the VGT and the members concerned to find mutually convenient solutions to the issues that were identified.
In June the Executive Board Chairman Mr. Reginald Fava resigned from his post and he was substituted by M.r Gino Cutajar. The Board dedicated its last meeting to prepare for the meeting with the Minister of Finance scheduled for the 30th November 2010.
A regular item on the agenda of every Board meeting was a report by the Chairmen of the Business Sections that fell under the Economic Group on the work being undertaken by their Sections and a discussion of any problems related thereto.