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European funding schemes for SMEs renewed until the end of March 2022 / Malta News Briefing – Saturday 9 October 2021

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Updated 1300 – Mid-Day Briefing

Covid-19 Update

16 cases were reported on Saturday while 35 patients recovered. Active cases stand at 263, seven of whom are receiving treatment at Mater Dei.

Govt launches strategy on construction waste

Government has launched a nine-year strategy aimed at tackling construction waste, which includes the establishment of disposal standards and a regulatory framework for managing the waste. The strategy, unveiled by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, proposes introducing incentives to restore abandoned houses and suggests that from 2028, high-density residential construction should be given targets to recycle at least 40 per cent of all excavated material.

Aaron Farrugia described the reforms, “much needed, sensitive and possibly controversial”. “A third of all waste generated on a local and EU level is construction waste […] The government, since 2013, has created unprecedented levels of waste through the roads and infrastructure projects,” Farrugia said.

“Climate change is the most enduring threat to our futures” – Speaker Farrugia

Speaker Anġlu Farrugia told the Pre-COP26 Parliamentary Meeting, which is being held in Rome, organised jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Italian Parliament, that “climate change is the most enduring threat to our futures”. He elaborated on the Climate Change Act, the parent legislation on climate change enacted in Parliament last year. He also referred to his chairing the CPA Small Branches Climate Change Workshop, held in Nairobi in collaboration with UNEP, when the CPA Small Branches Climate Change Toolkit for Parliamentarians was launched.

Morning Briefing

European funding schemes for SMEs renewed until the end of March 2022

Government has announced new cut-off dates till March 2022 for the Business Enhance ERDF Grant Schemes, which give small and medium-sized enterprises the opportunity to expand their operations while incentivising more investments. Almost 500 projects were supported through grants under these schemes and more than half of them were completed. In addition, there is still around €6 million available out of a total of €32 million to be awarded for new projects under the various schemes.

PN reacts to Government’s acceptance of 15% minimum corporate tax rate

The PN said that Government’s recent political history and grey-listing has dented its strength to negotiate a better tax deal for Malta. The Opposition was reacting to an announcement by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana who indicated that Malta was ready to accept an OECD for a minimum 15% tax on corporate entities.

The PN took exception at Caruana’s statement that there was no point in trying to negotiate the matter, arguing that “in other words, our voice as a nation has ended up being a powerless one”.

Opposition spokesperson Mario de Marco said that “yet again, the Opposition, business owners, unions and stakeholders were not consulted about the government’s decision to give in to international institutions and lose its fiscal independence by accepting a decision about a common minimum tax rate for foreign companies”.

Malta registers third largest drop in residence permits

Residence permits granted by Maltese authorities were slashed almost by half in 2020, going down from 21,200 in 2019 to 11,100 last year. This was the third largest drop in the European Union, with the largest decrease recorded in Czechia: 54% (from 117 000 permits in 2019, to 54 300 permits in 2020), followed by Greece at 53%. In the year during which the coronavirus pandemic and the travel restrictions implemented as a consequence, took its toll even on migration and movement of persons, all EU countries except Lithuania registered a drop. The Baltic country recorded an increase of 5%. In 2020, about 2.2 million first residence permits were issued in the EU to non-EU citizens. The number decreased by 24% (or -706 000) compared with 2019, the first dip seen in the upward trend observed between 2013 and 2020. This information comes from data on first residence permits published by Eurostat.

Covid-19 Update: Active cases took an uptick on Friday as 24 new cases exceeded 13 recoveries, to reach 282. Eight persons remain in hospital, but one patient has now been moved to intensive therapy.

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