Companies which provide transport for their workers will be eligible for generous tax credits from next year, it was announced in the Budget speech.

Such companies will get a tax deduction of 150 per cent on their expenses, capped at €35,000.

Small companies which team up to provide such transport will have the tax deduction cap raised to €50,000 per company. 

The aim of the incentive is to encourage workers to leave their private cars at home. Assistance given by their employers could even be in the form of bus cards. 

Also from next year, all government departments employing at least 50 workers will need to produce a workers' transport plan.

The Finance Minister also announced that all 18-year-olds will be eligible for free public transport for a year. The assistance cannot exceed €312 per person. 

Refunds will be given on VAT paid on vehicle registration tax in 2006, a measure which will cost the government €9.6 million.

Government incentives will also be given to those developers who seek to build underground car parks covered by surface gardens.

Road works

Road works will be focused on the Tal-Qroqq project with an eye on completing it by the end of the year.

Plans are in hand for a widening of the Hamrun bypass between the Sta Venera tunnels and the slip road to Qormi, a new junction at High Ridge in St Andrews, a junction in Mosta at Labour Avenue where it links with the Mosta ringroad, and new roads in Qajjenza, Safi, Senglea and Valletta.

In the area of oil exploration, a national company will be set up to oversee the sector, 

Gozo tunnel, fast ferry service

The government will next year also issue a call for expressions of interest to design, build and operate a Malta-Gozo tunnel.

The call is being described as the first phase of the project, which in future could be extended to other areas. 

A tender will also be issued for the operation of a fast ferry service between Valletta and Mġarr.

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