Updated 6.15pm with reactions

A €40 fee introduced in September for the registration of charity shops and fund-raising activities by voluntary organisations has been waived.

The Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations said the fee was removed following internal discussions and those who have already paid the contribution will be reimbursed.

However, those who use charity cans will still need to collect the containers from the commissioner's office and pay €1 for each can. This contribution will be reimbursed once the cans are returned to the commissioner's office.

The non-refunable administrative fee for the issuing of tags to administrators will remain in place.

Repubblika: insolent announcement

Reacting, civil society NGO Repubblika said the commissioner's announcement was "insolent" and one that will not quell voluntary organisations' anger over legislation enacted last September without any public consultation.

"Up until September 2020, all organisations that wanted to collect donations needed to register with the commissioner and comply with rules that ensured transparency. This was reasonable and verification processes could have been strenghtened following consultation, without trampling on rights of association and freedom of expression.

"Through these new rules, voluntary organisations have become state agents. They are controlled by the state and can collect funds only if they have the state's permission, while the state will know who is donating money to whom."

Repubblika added that organisations were not complaining over a €40 fee, but over having to ask the government for permission to exercise the very role for which they had been set up.

It urged the government to recall the rules enacted in September and hold a public consultaion.

PN reacts

In a statement the Opposition said it had held meetings with various voluntary organisations, some of whom had said that the new rules could spell their death.

"The PN is not against regulating the volontary sector - it was a PN government that in 2007 introduced rules to ensure transperancy.

"However, the Labour government has crossed all limits. The stories of corruption and abuse that implicate the same government have placed Malta under Moneyval's scrutiny. As a result, the government wants to burden voluntary organisations with a series of rules. Moreover, these rules were implimented without any public consultation by a government who listens."

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