In the Budget for 2019 there are no new taxes, tariffs or duties although tax will make up the largest portion of revenue, with income tax revenue expected to go up 11.1%. There is a cost of living (COL) wage raise of €2.33 per week, with a pro rata addition for student stipends. This is another budget surplus projected for 2019 (1.3%) even with the Individual Investor Programme (IIP) revenue factored out (0.5%).
A new entity – Tech.mt – will focus on marketing Malta as a hub for digital economy and disruptive technologies such as blockchain. This entity is to be created and tasked with monitoring Government concessions – past and present – and seeing whether they adhered to conditions stipulated. However, there were no real announcements made in this sector apart from the acknowledgement of the passing of the three blockchain/crypto bills through Parliament.
It was also announced that throughout next year, the Malta Stock Exchange will be helping small local companies that are developing themselves and investing in the Fintech industry. This will be done though the Fintech Accelerator, a programme that has been launched by the local Stock Exchange. It will also be furthering its cooperation with companies operating in the blockchain and cryptocurrencies sector.
There will be an extra day of leave for workers. Minimum wage earners will get €3 a week over and above COLA, if they have been on a minimum wage for at least one year. There will be an income tax refund of €40 to €68 per worker and self-employed who were forced to shut up shop, will be eligible for unemployment benefit until they find work. Public sector workers will get the chance to work past their pensionable age, in line with private sector provisions. There will be an emphasis on attracting eSports companies and events to Malta. NGOs with income below €10,000 will be exempt of all taxes.
The Budget seemed to imply that business schemes that were introduced in previous years are to remain. There were other measures which were new however and are of interest to the financial services community. One of them is the setting up of business advisory desk which deals with Brexit matters in the hope of attracting more of these businesses to the island. There were are also strict anti-tax avoidance and anti-money laundering measures announced which is welcome news.
Start-ups will also be given further assistance to help them grow.In this respect, the Government will focus on a plan of action and hence, will continue promoting the Seed Investment Scheme. It has also been stated that apart from this scheme, there will be a new scheme launched – start-up visa. It’s aim will be to help foreign start-ups establish themselves in Malta.