GRTU: Economic progress starts spreading across sectors

Chamber of SMEs says tangible incentives required to ensure that positive economic results are sustained • Expresses disappointment at lack of energy reductions

The measures announced in Budget 2017 are the result of positive growth which was now spreading to all sectors, the GRTU has said.

The Chamber of SMEs however warned that tangible incentives and measures are necessary in the implementation phase to ensure that the positive economic results are sustained.

GRTU said that the direct fiscal measures targeted at wider sectors such as pensioners and those on minimum wage are expected to increase disposable income to generate economic benefit across the board. 

On transport, the GRTU said that proposals it has put forward have resulted in a number of measures announced this evening: private collective transport is being incentivised by tax deductions to employers that organise free transport for their employees and large government entities are to provide transport for their own.

“The urgent need to give a full focus on the Kappara Junction Project to increase the rate of work drastically in order to reduce the negative impact of the length of the project seems to have been heard with a renewed commitment,” the Chamber said.

“Incentives to increase parking areas through Projects Malta and Planning Authority proposals to attract public car parks also echo GRTU proposals to solve the traffic crisis. Measures addressing organised school transport which are key for imminent improvement have unfortunately been left out.”

The GRTU however expressed disappointment that no energy reductions were announced: “We fail to understand how possible savings to business by reduction of energy bills has not been transcended to boost the economy. Following last year’s call by GRTU to decrease utility tariffs, one of GRTU’s main proposals was that of opening up the energy market to more operators in a bid to increase competition and reducing cost to businesses.”

It welcomed renewable energy initiatives such as the PV Farm project and urged for its immediate implementation.

A proposal by the GRTU for a mandatory pension for self-employed with voluntary opt-outs has resulted in voluntary pension incentives for employers and their employees. In GRTU’s opinion, this is a positive step, yet the take-up is expected to be weaker than that of the original GRTU proposal.

The measure for family business transfer stamp duty to be reduced from 5% to 1.5% from parent to child is a tangible implementation of the Family Business Act concept. GRTU however asks why this is only being launched for 12 months where such timeframe does not allow for planning and execution.

The GRTU said it will be looking at increase in specific excise duties such as toiletries, non-alcoholic drinks, glass, iron and tiling, and shall be looking into the expected effect on various sectors: “After years of being hindered by eco-contribution tax, these businesses are now being castigated with the introduction of excise duty.”

More in Budget 2017

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