The Malta Independent 16 January 2018, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: European Parliament - Saved by a whisker

Thursday, 14 December 2017, 10:49 Last update: about 2 months ago

The vote in the European Parliament yesterday on an amendment tabled by the European Socialist Group (PES) that would have, among other things, declared Malta to be a tax haven, was not passed by the slimmest of whiskers.

327 MEPs voted in favour, 327 MEPs voted against and 24 MEPs abstained. The amendment was thus not approved.

The recommendations were compiled by the PANA committee rapporteurs, following its report into money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion.

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The votes cast in favour of the proposal implies that nearly all S&D Group MEPs voted in favour of the proposal, which would have had severe implications for Malta’s financial services industry, had it been approved. The three Maltese Labour Party MEPs in the Group – Alfred Sant, Miriam Dalli and Marlene Mizzi – have claimed they were against the proposal.

MEP Miriam Dalli wrote on Twitter: “It was a close vote but I’m glad that an amendment to call Malta a tax haven has been rejected by the European Parliament. It strengthens my resolve to work harder to protect our economy.

“I am all for tax transparency and for boosting our fight against tax fraud and abuse but bullying tactics against small economies like Malta without understanding our realities is something I will never agree to.”

Obviously, here in Malta, the controversies will never end.

The Head of the PN Delegation David Casa stated: “It is disgraceful that Labour MEPs allowed for their political group to table this amendment. It shows that when push comes to shove they are capable of a lot of talk and very little else. There were elements within our own group that wanted to support the Socialist amendment. Let me be clear: It is because of the phenomenal work of the PN delegation that this amendment did not pass. When Malta’s interests are at stake we are the ones that show our worth. We are effective, influential, respected and achieve results. Yes, Malta’s taxation system is competitive – but Malta is no tax haven. Any effort to depict Malta as such will not be tolerated.”

It is blazingly clear that all the controversies and allegations in the past months and years have contributed to Malta’s plunge in international ratings as regards rule of law, money laundering, lax regulation, etc.

The fact that people who have been named in the Panama Papers have been retained in their posts by Prime Minister Muscat has, and continues to give, a very bad impression.

It is no excuse that other countries, such as Luxembourg or Ireland, are also mentioned in this regard. Those countries have clout which is far superior to anything we can have.

Even so, with all their massive foreign investment, they too have had to suffer from EU sanctions recently especially as regards what are called ‘sweetheart’ deals with specific companies.

Malta is far more fragile than these countries and the iGaming and financial services sectors together constitute a higher portion of the national GDP.

Yesterday the amendment did not pass, but tomorrow a similar one may pass. Following that, it will be a short trip to a ‘minimum corporate tax rate’ as was demanded yesterday by no less than PANA Report rapporteur Jeppe Kofod himself.

The circle round Malta is getting tighter (and please, government, stop teasing us with the joke that this is all the doing of the mere three PN MEPs and their agitation).

This has been, and still is, a no-action government in this regard and, like rabbits caught in a car’s headlamps, we can only await what’s coming our way.

 

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