EC wants Malta to reduce energy subsidies to control soaring deficit / Malta News Dispatch – Thursday 25 May 2023

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EC wants Malta to reduce energy subsidies to control soaring deficit

The European Commission wants Malta to wind down energy subsidies by the end of the year and believes the country should use that money to reduce the government deficit instead. In its recommendations concerning Malta, the commission said that should renewed energy price increases necessitate support measures, the government should ensure that these are targeted at protecting vulnerable households and firms, fiscally affordable and preserve incentives for energy savings. The EC has also called on government to address features of the tax system that may facilitate aggressive tax planning by individuals and multinationals, including by ensuring sufficient taxation of outbound payments of interest, royalties and dividends, and amend the rules for non-domiciled companies. (Times of Malta)

Fossil fuels play outsized role in Maltese economy – report
Although Malta does not import oil or gas from Russia, fossil fuels still play an outsized role in Malta’s economy a new report has found. According to the European Commission, in 2021, fossil fuels accounted for 98% of the country’s energy mix (natural gas provided 12%; oil and petroleum products provided 86%. Although they are increasing in share, renewables generate only 11.9%. Subsidies for fossil fuels have helped to cushion price fluctuations due to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, but these
subsidies reduce incentives for a swifter energy transition, including by demand reduction, the EC noted.

4900 individuals declare €100k+
At least 4,900 individuals declared an income of more than €100,000 in 2021, finance minister Clyde Caruana told Parliament. Replying to a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Jerome Caruana Cilia, the minister tabled a detailed list of high earners according to their residence. According to information from the Tax Commissioner’s Office, the six localities with the highest number of individuals with an income of €100,000 or more are: Sliema (526), Swieqi (354), Naxxar (330), St Julian’s (294), Attard (240) and Mosta (229). (Newsbook)

Morning Briefing

Topo refuses to testify in HSBC heist case

Darren Debono, a key figure in a failed HSBC Bank hold-up, invoked his right to silence during his testimony on Wednesday. Despite receiving a reduced prison sentence in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors, Debono chose not to answer questions, citing his previous experience of facing criminal action for his testimony. Debono’s appearance as a witness was in relation to the case against his co-accused, Vince Muscat il-Kohhu, who is facing charges including attempted murder and attempted theft related to the HSBC heist. Prior to his testimony, Debono declared his decision to remain silent, citing his past legal circumstances. (Times of Malta)

Energy support measures to continue, PM says
Prime Minister Robert Abela, while inaugurating a new hotel in St Julians, emphasized the government’s commitment to supporting the economy amidst rising energy prices. He welcomed the substantial €25 million investment and reiterated the government’s dedication to providing incentives that encourage private investment. Addressing the challenge of seasonality in the tourism sector, Abela highlighted the record-breaking number of tourist arrivals in the first quarter of the year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels from 2019. He emphasized the need for sustainable growth, aiming to attract high-quality tourists to a more environmentally pristine Malta. (Maltatoday)

Two carers suspended after alleged abuse at Dar Arka

Following allegations of abuse against a disabled person at Dar Arka in Għajnsielem, Gozo, two carers have been suspended from their duties. The Ministry for Inclusion stated that a confidential report was received by Aġenzija Sapport and the Social Welfare Standards Authority, prompting an immediate investigation into the matter. The Standards Authority swiftly commenced their inquiry to ascertain the facts and subsequently referred the case to the police, who have initiated their own investigation. As the police carry out their investigation, the two carers involved have been suspended from their roles. (TVM)

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