A series of initiatives to encourage the use of bicycles was announced on Monday by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna and Transport Minister Ian Borg. Listed among them is the removal of the obligation of using a bicycle helmet, especially when renting pedelecs.
Dr Borg said that his ministry was doing its utmost to incorporate cycle lanes in major projects, such as the Kappara Junction and the Marsa junction project.
On the other hand, safety issues did not always permit such lanes when space was limited.
In terms of the incentives, those who opt to buy a pedelec or a motorbike will be given a one-time grant of €400. €100,000 are being allocated for this scheme, meaning that 250 individuals will benefit.
Several proposals by cyclists' representative groups were being adopted, including the removal of the obligation to register a pedelec or low-power assisted pedal cycles with an electric motor having an output of not more than 250 watts, the removal of the payment of the annual road licence for pedelec, moped and light quad bike licences, and the removal of the obligation of using a bicycle helmet, especially when renting pedelecs. Nonetheless, the ministry and Transport Malta will encourage people to use helmets.
Prof Scicluna spoke about VAT refunds, grants and tax deduction as part of his ministry’s initiatives towards a cleaner mode of transport.
He urged private companies which promote this alternative means of transport for commuting to and from work, to apply for a grant to invest in bicycle racks and showers. The bicycle racks have to be installed according to international standards and members of the Bicycle Advocacy Group are involved in assessing the project. The Ministry of Finance has allocated a fund of €150,000 for such initiatives.
Those individuals who purchase a bicycle will get a refund on VAT up to €85 whilst those purchasing a pedelec or motorised bicycle will benefit from a VAT refund of up to €250. Companies can now benefit from a similar scheme capped to €7,500.
He said VAT rate on bicycle rental services was being lowered from 18 per cent to 7 per cent.