Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October, 2022 at 9:45 am by Andre Camilleri
More airlines expected to set up base in Malta
Expressions of Interest for Evans Building, old fisheries and Sliema Chalet
Review of Malta’s residency schemes in the works
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana hinted on Monday that more tough decisions are in the pipeline for Air Malta, but insisted that the country has and will still have a national airline.
“Air Malta was a great challenge over the past two years. Decisions by previous administrations left the airline in a position where it could never be efficient. Governments injected tens of millions into the airline, but its problems only increased. If we had done nothing, there would have come a day where the company would have been unable to pay wages and close down.”
Caruana said the European Commission, with whom the government has been discussing the possibility of authorizing state aid, has made it clear that there are no “sacred cows” and that it will not afford Malta any preferential treatment.
“Together with the EC, we need to find a solution that is in the best interest of the country but which also respects EU laws. We drafted a working plan to better address the airline’s expenses. The EC is evaluating the choices it has before it, but I will keep stressing that Malta had, has and will continue to have a national airline”, Caruana said.
“Much more needs to be done to turn Air Malta into a profitable company. It gives me no pleasure, and it will win me no votes, because the decisions are hard and not everyone will like them. What is sure is that Air Malta cannot continue burning tens of millions of euro. These are not things one enjoys doing, but they have to be done and I am willing to do them.”
Speaking on the economy in general, Caruana said that the government’s strategy for coming months will be focused on safeguarding those industries that are growing, whilst cultivating a culture of innovation for new economic niches and sectors.
Malta Enterprise (ME) is to launch a new one-stop-shop for start-ups and Malta will also host the EU Start-ups Summit. ME will also launch a new Business Incubation Centre in Kordin using EU funds. There will be a new €40 million scheme to help SMEs with cash grants.
A Digital Innovation Hub will be developed and Malta Enterprise will also be doubling its cash grants to all local companies that invest in digital and sustainability projects, thus covering up to 50% of the investment, as up to €100,000.
Gozitan business will continue benefitting from an additional 10% tax credit assistance, which can increase to 20% in case of projects that lead to a decrease in the carbon footprint. There will be other initiatives for companies investing in digital projects, or projects that reduce the consumption of energy, water, waste and land-use.
There are talks on the establishment of a Venture Capital Fund and the government will further be promoting Malta at the World Expo 2025 in Osaka, Japan.
The assistance given to companies as subsidies on their rent fees will be extended and will be doubled to €50,000.
Expressions of Interest
The government will launch Expressions of Interest for Evans Building, the Fisheries building, and the Chalet in Sliema, so that these sites can be given a new lease of life. “We want to see quality projects that respect the value of these locations, that are sustainable and that create new opportunities. Other sites are being explored too”, Caruana said.
The reduction of stamp duty from 5% to 1.5% in cases where businesses are transferred to relatives is being extended.
There will be added investment in the Malta Film Studios, with the construction this next year of the first sound stages in Malta.
Caruana also said that Malta’s residency schemes need to be reviewed in the context of global changes, including Brexit. Laws regulating these schemes will be reviewed, as well as guidelines and their practical administration. “We must ensure that Malta remains attractive, while also ensuring that these schemes remain integrous”, the minister said.
The government also aims to strengthen tourism in the winter months, with new schemes being aimed at attracting tourists to Gozo during the quiet months. The Foundation for the Development of Tourism Zones will become an agency as from January 2023.
The government will also be working to strengthen the maritime and the aviation sectors, and will announce the relocation of new airlines to Malta in the coming months.