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Saturday, June 22, 2013

15% flat tax rate introduced on residential lets in Malta.

The Government has decided to introduce a flat tax rate of 15 per cent on the rent of residential properties, deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech said this morning....

Currently, the rent tax rate can go up to 35 per cent and has resulted in rampant tax evasion. Mr Grech said he expected more people to declare their rental income following this change, which would include harsher penalties for those who fail to declare their income.....

Read the full article on The Times of Malta online here.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

New Malta residence scheme for foreigners launched - thresholds drastically reduced -

New residence scheme for foreigners launched - thresholds drastically reduced -

A new residence scheme for foreigners was launched this morning, replacing the foreign residents' scheme which was controversially suspended in 2011.

Parliamentary Secretary Edward Zammit Lewis said the Global Residence Programme, as the new scheme is called, will allow people who buy high value property and pay taxes in Malta to benefit from a residence permit.
The previous scheme was suspended and initially replaced by the High Net Worth Individuals Scheme which did not prove popular because the minimum value of purchased property had been raised from €116,000 to €400,000.

Under the Global Residence Programme, the value of immovable property bought in Malta by foreigners has to be at least €275,000. However, when the property is in the south of Malta or in Gozo, the minimum value can be €220,000.........

Friday, October 26, 2012

Budget 2013 to address tourism / self catering licensing issues

The next Budget will address the current licensing system that is being bypassed by many self-catering accommodation spots in Gozo, putting those acting in line with the law at a disadvantage, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said this morning. The minister was speaking during a pre-budget consultation business breakfast at the Kempinski Hotel in San Lawrenz.

Read the full article on The Times of Malta online, here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Less bureaucracy in Trade Licence and MEPA requirements, for new businesses in Malta

People opening a new business which is not health or food related will no longer have to apply for a licence with the Trade Department following changes to the licensing process aimed to reduce bureaucracy and increase efficiency.

The changes were announced this morning by Small Businesses Minister Jason Azzopardi. The minister said that after obtaining the Mepa permit, a business owner would only have to notify the Trade Department that he was about to start the new commercial activity.

The businessman could do this up to 30 days after embarking on the new operation. The minister said he estimated that around 80 per cent of new commercial activities would benefit from this simplification.

Another new rule aimed to reduce bureaucracy is that when a new commercial activity is embarked upon, one would not have to submit copies of the Mepa certificates and floor plans but just the number of the Mepa permit.

The minister said that through these changes, the government was showing that it cared for the sector and was committed to offer Maltese and Gozitan businesses the best. Other measures included reductions in the cost of several licenses. The Trade Director was also being given the power to cancel licences which would have remained unpaid for four consecutive years.

Source: The Times of Malta online, Oct 12, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

High-end apartments fuel property price increases - CBM quarterly review

Property prices in the first three months of this year rose by 5.5% on a year earlier, the Central Bank has found, on the basis of its survey of advertised prices. Prices also rose by 6.1% in the previous quarter.
The increase in the overall property price index over its year-ago level was primarily a result of developments in the market for apartments, the bank said. Apartments saw an annual increase of 8.7%. The main reason behind this relatively strong growth was the increased number of advertised upmarket properties in high value areas compared with previous years.

During the first quarter of 2012, asking prices in the “other” category, which consists of townhouses, houses of character and villas rose by 4.1%. This increase was largely a result of higher asking prices for houses of character. Prices of villas and townhouses also increased; however, their impact on the headline rate was more contained.
On the other hand, asking prices for maisonettes were marginally down over their year-ago level while prices for terraced houses dropped at an annual rate of 8.5%. With regard to the latter, given the small number of terraced houses in the Bank’s sample, this development had a limited downward impact on the overall property price index.

The bank said the number of advertised properties captured in the Bank’s survey contracted by 3.1% on a year earlier in the first quarter of 2012, compared with a 7.0% decline in the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, the number of building permits issued by Mepa also continued to decrease, going down by 16.5% year-on-year in the March quarter, following a drop of 17.6% in the previous quarter.
In absolute terms, this was mostly due to a lower number of permits issued for apartments although development permits for maisonettes and the “other category” also registered drops.

In contrast, development permits for terraced houses increased. Residential property prices based on the NSO Property Price Index, which had fallen by 1.4% in 2011, rose by 1.6% year-on-year in the March quarter of 2012. The increase in the latter reflected a 1.7% rise in the prices of apartments and a 6.0% rise in those of maisonettes. On the other hand, NSO data also show that, after they had risen by 7.0% during 2011, the number of sale contracts dropped at an annual rate of 6.7% in the first quarter of 2012.

Source - The Times of Malta online

Also view "CBM lowers growth projections, additional measures may be needed to achieve deficit targets" - The Times of Malta Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 11:08

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Interest-subsidy scheme for first-time buyers purchasing from private sector in Malta

The government has announced a limited one-year interest subsidy scheme for first time buyers wishing to purchase a house from the private sector. The scheme was announced by Justice Minister Chris Said and will be open for the first 300 applications.

They will benefit from an interest subsidy of up to 2.5% on borrowing from the banks of up to €80,000. The savings could reach €14,500. Dr Said said the subsidy would be given for a period of between eight and ten years. The scheme would be administered by the Housing Authority.

Source: The Times of Malta online

Friday, July 13, 2012

LN to enable property owners in Malta to regularise in accordance with sanitary law.

A legal notice to enable owners of dwellings who have an existing structure, which is not in accordance with sanitary law, to regularise their position against an administrative fee will come into affect on August 1. The legal notice covers the size of internal and back yards, floor to ceiling height and rooms built in the backyard. These concessions only apply to development built before the coming into force of these new measures, on August 1.

If the size of the internal or backyard was not constructed according to sanitary regulations, the concession will be permitted as long as the length of any side is up to 65 per cent of that required by law and the overall area of the yard is more than 65 per cent of what was originally approved.

If the length of any side is between 60 and 65 per cent and the overall area is within that range, the plans of the dwellings could be considered acceptable subject to an engineer report stating that the rooms had adequate lighting and ventilation. These new regulations do not apply to commercial buildings. Internal or back yard less than half the size of what they should have been will not be accepted as they posed a public health risk.

Details of this new legal notice were given this morning by the director of Public Health Ray Busuttil, who is also the chairman of the General Services Board, which in the past two to three years saw a steep increase in requests for sanctioning due to these non-conformities.

The legal notice will give Mepa the power to sanction without the need for applicants to go to the General Services Board. With regard to floor to ceiling height, which should be 2.75 metres, the board was seeing a lot of applications with a height of 2.6 metres. This was due to smaller stone slabs and 2.6 metres was established as the threshold for the height limitation. If the floor to ceiling height was between 2.4 and 2.6 metres, an engineer's report was needed.

As regards rooms in backyard, these could not occupy more than 35 per cent of the area of the actual backyard and could not be more than 10 courses high. To apply one will have to get a specific form, available from Mepa, and have it filled in by an architect who also has to declare that it was a pre-August 1 building. An administration fee which has not yet been established will be charged Dr Busuttil noted that most of the buildings affected were apartment blocks or small houses built between the 70s and the 90s.

Mepa director of enforcement at Alex Borg explained that the measures were in reaction to the social realities of a number of families who ended up with a property which could not be modified or supplied with water and electricity meters due to the size of the yard.

These yards were often only slightly smaller than permitted and often served an entire block of apartment over which not all effected parties had control.

Source: Times of Malta online July 13, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Environmental Indicators show sharp increase in construction waste

Waste generation in 2010 increased by 48% compared to the previous year, mainly due to a sharp increase in construction waste, a Mepa Environmental Indicators report issued today shows.

The report says that construction and demolition waste had increased after having declined by 70% between 2008 and 2009. Municipal waste declined by 10 percentage point to 17.2% while hazardous waste declined from 4.8% to 2.5%.

Mepa chairman Austin Walker said the increase in construction waste stemmed from a spike in building permits in previous years. He said the amount of waste which was was being recycled had increased from 4% in 2009 to 7.7% in 2010.

The Environmental indicators also show that last year the number of permits issued for housing units declined from a high of 11,000 in 2007 to just 3,995 last year. Malta last year exceeded the EU standards on particulate matter in the air on a number of days, mainly in Msida, one of the areas having the heaviest traffic flows in Malta. However levels of sulphur dioxide and benzine both decreased.

The report's results were announced by Environment Minister Mario de Marco, who said that the replacement of the bus fleet would have a positive effect on air quality, but Malta still had the oldest average car age in the EU at 13.6 years. Malta, he said, needed to encourage car pooling, and he called on local councils to also create traffic free zones, particularly in village cores. The reports says that government spending on the environment had risen by 30% from 2009 to reach €130m.

Electricity generation rose by 2.6% in 2011. Marguerite Camilleri, Unit manager, policy coordinator at Mepa said the area of land designated as special protection area had in 2011 increased by 10.8 square kilometres compared to 2010.

Dr de Marco said such indicators were important in the context of the people's right to access for environmental information, which was reaffirmed in last week's UN conference on sustainable development.

Touching briefly on the importance of maintaining the coastal environment, he said that this was why the government could not say that land reclamation was one of the ways forward. He asked whether there was a massive demand for land which would justify the need for land reclamation, which could devastate coastal habitats?

Source: Times of Malta online June 27, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Code of ethics for Maltese notaries being drawn up

The Notarial Council is in the process of drafting a code of ethics for notaries after recent amendments in the notarial law established the duties of notaries that were never defined by law.
Minister for Fair Competition, Small Business and Consumers Jason Azzopardi earlier today presented warrants to 14 new notaries. He said that the amendments in the law ensure that European notaries who would like to practice in Malta must know how to write and speak Maltese as well as English. He said that in this way, Government safeguarded national interests.

Source: di-ve news

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tougher checks on home loans - "Banks will bear costs"

People taking out home loans will face tougher checks under new plans unveiled by Brussels.

The European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee has approved proposals aimed at strengthening both the rights and obligations of consumers on mortgages.

According to these rules, those taking out a home loan will have to be scrutinised more closely to make sure they can repay their loans while banks and financial institutions will have to be clearer on the information they give to clients before lending them money.

The new rules also introduce a new cooling-off concept, where clients will be given a chance to change their mind.

The EU’s mortgage market is valued as €6 trillion or 52 per cent of the EU’s GDP. Malta’s banking sector is highly exposed to the mortgage market, which is estimated to make up the bulk of the island’s local banking business.

The aim of the new rules is to give consumers taking out mortgages greater protection. The main elements include a more efficient assessment of the borrowers’ credit worthiness so that only those who can repay the loan would get one. This will also reduce the banks’ potential losses while imprudent borrowers are spared bankruptcy. For the first time, prospective home owners would be entitled to a 14-day cool-off period so that they can change their mind about taking out a mortgage without giving any reason.

The cost of early repayments and risks of foreign-currency loans should be borne by banks, although the proposals specify that “fair and objectively justified” compensation for lenders must still be available.

The rules are expected to be adopted by the EP’s plenary session before endorsement by member states.

Source: The Times of Malta, June 13, 2012