The Malta Independent 14 November 2019, Thursday

Budget 2020 - Tourism and Economy: Replacement of Air Malta fleet over five years

Monday, 14 October 2019, 21:37 Last update: about 1 month ago

In an effort to improve the quality of Malta’s tourism sector, the government will continue working on the drafting of a new tourism strategy. The main aims are to attract higher quality tourists who spend more in Malta, to ensure that the sector grows sustainably and is better managed. Other aims are to reduce the country’s seasonality, to create a national air connectivity strategy as well as new niche markets and ensure that the sector has the necessary resources.

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Tourist arrivals reached 2.7 million this year, and bed nights and tourist expenditure increased too. The prospects for next year are also encouraging, Scicluna said, and the government will keep up its marketing campaigns. The already extensive cultural calendar will be improved further.

 

Aviation and maritime

The government will do its utmost so that Air Malta keeps growing, the Finance Minister said. The process to replace its fleet will continue, bringing in more modern planes that pollute less. This process will be spread over 5 years.

The plan is for Air Malta to keep improving its services, increase its operations at major European and north African airports and start operating medium and long-haul routes.

Turning to the growing aviation sector, Scicluna said the government now wants to explore new areas, including attracting to Malta companies that specialise in

research and experimentation in the drone sector.

The Malta Air Traffic Services (MATS) will continue investing in the latest airspace management technology, while the runway and taxiways will be enlarged. Preparatory works on a new Air Traffic Control Centre will continue.

With regard to the growing cruise liner industry, the government will also continue upgrading the facilities at the Grand Harbour and carry out the necessary upgrades at Pinto 4 and 5 docks, as well as the landing facilities at Lascaris.

 

Industry

Malta Industrial Parks is currently working on a Public Private Partnership in a number of industrial areas to accommodate small businesses in industrial clusters. Schemes to help start-ups will continue.

To promote the installation of PV panels on the rooftops of factories, there will be a pilot project on the concept of green infrastructure. This concept will also be applied at the Life Sciences Park.

An old landfill in Marsa will be ‘land mined’ and a public call for its clean-up and change into an industrial, sport and commercial zone will be issued. The project will not use virgin land and the rubble taken out of the site will be reused.

 

Business

The Malta Development Bank is in negotiations to introduce guarantee schemes with more banks to cover more of the market, increasing accessibility to funds for SMEs.

The MDB is consulting with private entities, including commercial banks, to provide financing facilities for infrastructural projects that have a social dimension, including those related to affordable accommodation and education, as well as projects related to the environmental and climate promotion.

The Malta Stock Exchange will promote the issuing of Green Bonds to incentivise projects that safeguard the environment and promote sustainable resources and clean energy.

The government is exploring new niche markets, like Fintech, Regtech and Blockchain. Investment is also being made in the field of Artificial Intelligence to attract more talent to Malta. The government has recently launched the AI Taskforce. There will be an educational campaign and scholarships for AI students. An AI Innovation Hub will be launched and there will be a pilot project on the use of AI in the public service. MITA will be working to strengthen cybersecurity.

The government is also looking at the commercialisation of the space sector. A consultative document will serve as the basis for a national strategy in this field.

There will be a number of measures to assist sectors like the digital arts, games programming and media production.

 

Taxation

From next year, VAT/PE numbers can be registered, deregistered or cancelled online, with instant validation.

Pensioners will be able to stop paying their provisional taxes every three months, with the tax being deducted from their national pension.

Couples will be able to submit their tax accounts separately.

Tax refunds will be issued within six months, not after a year.

 

Agriculture and fisheries

Malta Enterprise will launch a scheme to help businesses employ persons with disabilities. These will be given a grant to cover investments that are not legal obligations.

The introduction of the Extension Services in agriculture and the Farm Advisory Service will be replicated in the fisheries sector. The Department for Agriculture and Fisheries will be restructured to ensure that regulatory obligations are carried out in a more effective and efficient manner.

The upgrading of the Hardstanding facility at Marsaxlokk, the development of a Central Control Hub in Marsa and the vessel restoration scheme will continue.

Restructuring works at the Fish market will continue, making use of modern and more energy efficient technologies.

A plan for the regeneration and modernisation of the Pitkali will be finalised next year.

The government farm at Ghammieri will be turned into a Centre for Agricultural Innovation and Research. The first National Agricultural Fair will be held next spring.

Investment Aid for companies in the agricultural sector will continue through existing Malte Enterprise schemes.

There will be a new aid scheme for companies in the agricultural and fisheries sectors to become more innovative. This will cover the expenses related to the salary of a person qualified in research, development and innovation. It will also cover expenses related to advisory and support services.

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