The power of lobbies: from floating casinos to transfer of property

A number of measures address the issues raised by lobby groups in various areas

The 2015 budget addresses the gripes of various lobby groups. Cruise liners will now be able to operate their casinos in Maltese waters, opening up a new revenue stream for them and the Lotteries & Gaming Authority. 

Until now cruise liners have been banned from operating their casinos.

Another interesting proposal is that the transfer of property will be taxed at 8% of the sales value of the property – it was formerly 12%. 

This measure is surely a reaction to the demands of the vociferous Malta Developers Association.

The government justifies this measure by stating that it will ensure fewer enforcement measures and smoother administration.

Property agents may finally get what they have been praying for with the government appearing to be acceding to their demand by drawing up a white paper to regulate the real estate agents sector.

The GRTU’s demand for the removal of eco-tax seems to have found a willing interlocutor with the government and the eco-tax for electronic goods will be phased out.

However the removal of eco-tax from tyres will be replaced by excise duty.

Businesses’ grievance about an A-Z compliant and enforcement agency appears to have finally sensitised the government, which will be looking into centralising all the enforcement agencies under one roof, that is MEPA, MTA, ETC, OHSA and others.

The pensioners and disabled concerns have been addressed and especially with regard to the disabled, where government has obliged itself to realise a 1967 legal proviso that companies should employ disabled persons and that these should represent 2% of their workforce.

This will be encouraged with tax refunds for those who comply, and with penalties for those employers who do not.

A small but vocal lobby, the Valletta retail operators will also welcome the new scheme to allow operators and not tenants to enter into a lease of the outlets that they have been operating.

Investors who have had to face sour experiences with their investments will be having their financial ombudsman, a reaction to the criticism that the MFSA failed to stand up for them.

Sandy beaches are being earmarked for three areas, which interest local communities and business concerns.  These include Taħt iż-żiemel in Valletta, next to the reverse osmosis plant in Pembroke and then next to the aquarium in Qawra.

Green NGOs are also being roped in with their involvement in creating walkways in the Maltese countryside and the management of nature sites.  They will also be pleased that hunting cartridges will have an excise tax of 70c per kg, and tuna fish feed of 10c per kg.

Tree huggers will also be pleased to hear that swimming pool owners will be paying €4.60 per m3 for domestic pools and €6.90 per m3 for commercial pools.

Motorsports enthusiasts will be enticed by the decision to call for an expression of interest to set up facilities for a motorsport track.

A carnival village study will be financed by a handsome €80K grant.

And finally the government will be addressing the press itself by addressing the issue of the antiquated press laws, and states that it will address the libel law by reflecting on the importance of a free and dynamic press.

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