1. INTRODUCING THE OFFSET PAYMENTS SYSTEM
Government announced that, where possible, an offset system will be introduced between payments owed to Government and payments due to private operators. The Chamber welcomes this development, stating that it had been calling for the initiative to be implemented throughout the last decade.
2. MICROINVEST ASSISTANCE
MicroInvest assistance will be increased to €50,000 for businesses in Malta and €70,000 for businesses in Gozo. There will also be further investment in Gozo, with specific funds allocated for Gozitan entrepreneurs operating tourism sector. A new research and ICT Hub will be established at the Xewkija Industrial area.
3. INCENTIVISING REMOTE GAMING
Next year a new regulatory framework will be launched to provide further incentives for growth in the remote gaming sector. This project will also include the introduction of the VAT grouping concept for financial services and remote gaming.
Government pledged to work harder on attracting investment from companies that are leaving the UK or looking for a new base within the EU. For this reason, a working group was established to draft a strategy to attract investment in the aviation, maritime and electronic payments segments. The Malta Chamber looks forward to actively participating in this working group through its representative.
5. BLOCKCHAIN STRATEGY
A taskforce entrusted with evaluating the implementation of a national blockchain strategy was established, and training initiatives for public sector employees in this sector were introduced. Government will be launching a web-portal to serve a networking tool for those interested in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The Chamber, which has always spoken in favour of identifying and establishing the industries of the future, welcomed these new developments
6. ACTIVE LABOUR MARKET POLICIES
The ‘Making Work Pay’ and ‘In-Work Benefit’ schemes shall be reinforced and extended, while the ‘Tapering Of Social Benefits’ scheme will be strengthened by reducing eligibility criteria of two years living on social benefits to one year, ensuring a more rapid transition from dependence on social benefits to earning a living through work. The Malta Chamber said it was wholly in favour of such active labour market policies and acknowledged the role these policies have played in increasing labour market participation rates and subsequent economic growth.
7. NO SURPRISE MEASURES
The government did not introduce any surprise measures or new taxes, which will allow business momentum to keep going. The Chamber noted that its recommendations in this regard were largely heeded. The Chamber also stated that it looks forward to the opening of formal consultations with the authorities to ensure that the objectives of the deposit and refund system on plastic and glass beverage bottles will be achieved through fair and equitable implementation on all direct operators, whilst ascertaining the sustainability of existing waste management schemes.