The Malta Independent 11 July 2020, Saturday

Budget 2020: Law and Order - Cash payments over €10,000 not allowed for high-value purchases

Monday, 14 October 2019, 21:25 Last update: about 10 months ago

As from next year, it will no longer be possible to pay in cash for over €10,000 when buying property, cars, boats and yachts, diamonds, precious stones and art, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said during the 2020 budget speech.

Malta is one of the few countries where it is customary to rely heavily on cash, which many times is a symptom of tax evasion, he explained.


With regards to illegal immigration, the introduction of an Information Service Unit will be studied. This will see a team of professionals providing information, and help, to persons seeking refuge, so as they can better integrate into Maltese society.

This team will also be able to provide information concerning the Assisted Voluntary Return, whereby immigrants are helped to return to their countries with the help of government and NGOs.

Work will continue to establish the Integration Academy, which will offer services to those that will be obliged to follow an integration program.


MoneyVal report - Financial Organised Crimes Agency to be established

Speaking about the MoneyVal report, Scicluna said that the government has made a detailed plan as to how institutions are going to implement the recommendations. A new agency will be established, to be known as the Financial Organised Crimes Agency.

This agency will be complementing the Economic Crimes Unit that falls within the remit of the Police Corp. Such structures are found in countries around the world, so much so that as part of the restructuring of Maltas institutions, aid is being provided from other authorities in the world, including the UK and the USA.

Only a brief mention was afforded to the IIP scheme, with Scicluna saying that a public consultation was carried out to improve it in the future. The program is beneficial for the Maltese economy and is similar to what other countries in the EU and other regions have done.

Contrary to what some believe, Scicluna said the government saves a big part of the funds gained from the scheme so as they are invested for the future by the National Fund for Economic and Social Development.

A surplus is still achieved even after when deducting the funds emitting from the IIP, which is proof of the suitable economic model that is government is adopting, he noted.


Digital technology to be further introduced in the judicial system

The justice reform that has been ongoing for the past few years has resulted in the reduction of pending cases from 26,650 in 2012 to 22,510 in the past six years.

Next year will see the government continue to work on the separation of functions of the Attorney General. After parliament approved the law that established the Office of the State Advocate, that acts as a consultant to the government, the next step is that gradually this Office has more prosecution functions.

Further digital technology will be introduced, and made use of, in the judicial system, to lead to justice being served in less time. The promotion of mediation, as the alternative solution to disputes, to reduce the number of cases in court, when possible, is being promoted.


Police Corp - Prosecution sector to be independent from investigation

The Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) will continue to be modernised with the continuation of the purchase of an offshore patrol vessel, built according to the armys specifications. Investment will also take place with the purchase of sophisticated equipment for the Special Operations Unit, as well as several infrastructural projects.

The Investigations Department within the Police Corp will be operating from a new, modern building as from next year. New offices will also be built for the prosecution section, with the aim of having a prosecuting team that is not part of the investigation, according to the recommendations made by the Venice Commission. This should result in investigators spending less time in court and more time dedicated to investigations.

A X-ray tunnel and two machines for luggage scanning will be purchased for customs purposes. The processing of scanning in the Freeport will also be replicated in the Grand Harbour.

A seven-year program has been put together for the Civil Protection Department to meet international standards and its obligations, which are increasing. The plan looks at the need for human resources, the building of new stations which are anti-seismic, as well as the purchase of modern vehicles equipped with the latest technology.

It will see better knowledge related to fire, be better equipped to deal with high buildings, a new maritime fleet, big bowsers of water to eliminate the dependency on private operators, as well as a new Disaster Management System.

Work will also ensue on the refurbishment of the prison, as well as the forensic unit at Mount Carmel Hospital. The work will be carried out by the prisoners themselves, for which work they are paid.

More vehicles will be purchased to facilitate the transport of prisoners to and from hospital, court, and other necessary places, as well as to modernise the fleet.

The Psychology Unit will be strengthened and new programs will be introduced to minimise recidivism. Specialised training will be given to workers in this Probation and Parole Department, that will see a new program launched focused on young offenders.


New law to be passed to ensure equality is a fundamental human right

A National Commission for Human Rights and Equality will be established which will be independent of the government, whilst answering to parliament. It will have more powers to fight against any discriminatory acts.

A new law regarding equality will be drafted to ensure equality for everyone, and in all aspects will be a fundamental human right.

A strategy and action plan will be implemented for the integration of equality between genders in several sectors, including education, health, justice, work, financial independent, work balance, private and family life. It will also ensure equal access and opportunities for positions in authority for men and women.

Speaking about vulnerable persons, Scicluna said that professional services, in the form of exit programs, will be made available for those persons who voluntarily seek the necessary help to leave prostitution.

The national strategy about human trafficking, which is underway, which will see its implementation over the next five years. The first part of the strategy will see the strengthening of the government structures responsible for the coordination of the politics against human trafficking, as well as working on laws intended to prevent human trafficking, and facilities for the victims that seek help.

Local research will be launched about the financial impact on victims of domestic violence, as well as on the Maltese economy.

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