- Cash vouchers for those aged over 16
- Cheaper fuel
- Lower tax on property sales
- Compensation to couples whose wedding was postponed
- Improved in-work benefits
Updated 9.05pm with reactions by the PN and constituted bodies.
Cash vouchers of up to €100 will be given to all residents aged over 16 as a measure to get businesses going again following the pandemic, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced on Monday evening.
He also announced that petrol and diesel prices will drop by 7c per litre from Monday. Petrol will cost 1.34 per litre and diesel 1.21c.
There will be lower stamp duty on property sales and couples who incurred extra costs because their wedding had to be postponed will be compensated.
In-work benefits will also be improved for low-income families.
The measures form part of a package entitled A Better Tomorrow drawn up to help the economy recover from the impact of COVID-19. The details were given at a press conference in Fort St Elmo which was also addressed by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna and Economy Minister Silvio Schembri.
The package will cost the government some €900 million which it intends to recoup through local bond issues.
The focus of the package is aimed at getting businesses going (See business-related measures being reported separately here).
Abela said that in order to stimulate demand, every resident aged 16 and over will receive five vouchers of €20 each. Four of the vouchers may be used in hotels, restaurants and similar businesses and the remaining €20 voucher in retail outlets which were closed because of the COVID-19 measures.
The vouchers cannot be used in places like supermarkets, which remained open.
The vouchers remain valid till September.
Reduced stamp duty on property transfers
In a measure to boost the property market, there will be a reduction of stamp duty for sellers and buyers upon signing of contracts.
The measure, which also applies for those still under a promise of sale agreement (konvenju) will continue up to March 2021 for property values up to €400,000.
For those buying property, the current 5% duty will drop to 1.5%. For the sellers, the 8% property transfer tax will drop to 5%.
The measure applies for residential properties only. It will cost the government some €32 million.
The separate first-time buyers scheme will also be adjusted so that those who had bought a garage would still be eligible.
Couples whose wedding had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 measures will receive compensation of up to €2,000.
In-work benefits improved
The in-work benefit will be extended to include more low-income families and there will be an increase in the grants given per child. Furthermore, all those in the scheme will be given a grant of €250.
In the coming days 210,000 workers will also receive a tax refund as was given in the past few years.
Fund to help NGOs, homes for the elderly
A €3 million fund is being set up to help NGOs, whose income was severely hit by the impact of COVID-19.
€2 million will be allocated to homes of the elderly, which saw their costs soar as they were locked-down, with staff having to sleep there as well.
'Everybody is getting something'
Replying to questions by Times of Malta, Abela said the package had been laid out independently of any funds which Malta may get from the EU through its COVID-19 Fund.
“Every day counts. We are announcing these measures now to instill confidence in the future. People know where they stand, everybody is getting something,” he said.
“We have room to manoeuvre and we cannot wait. There are millions of euros in local bank deposits which we would like to see utilised to get the economy moving rapidly forward,” Abela added.
He pointed out that deposits in local banks had risen by a staggering €900 million since January as the Maltese continued to save.
Deficit of 7%
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said the package and other measures already taken would see Malta having a deficit of some 7% which would be covered by local borrowing. This level was sustainable by the country, Scicluna said.
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