Budget 2021: Here Is All You Need to Know!

 

Earlier this evening, in Parliament, Minister for Finance, Prof Edward Scicluna delivered the speech for the 2021 Budget.

If, like most of the population, you cannot take the long speech, the figures, the percentages, and the desk-banging rituals, we thought of making it easier for you all, by outlining the measures which have been announced in  a convenient bullet list.

 

 

Quality of Life

  • The Cost of Living Adjustment will be €1.75 weekly, which will be given to all people in employment, as well as to the pensioners and to those receiving social benefits. Stipends will also be increasing pro-rata.
  • We will be getting an extra day of leave in 2021 to make up for those public holidays which fall on weekends.
  • The infamous tax-refund cheques, will be increasing in value for 2021 – €45 being the minimum and €95 being the maximum, with the maximum being given to those who earn the least.
  • The even-more-infamous COVID-19 vouchers will be back – €100 in vouchers will be distributed by the end of this year. €60 can be spent on accomodation, hotels and restaurants, and €40 can be spent in retail outlets.

 

 

  • An additional supplement will be given to those parents receiving children’s allowance. For families with an income of less than €25,138 the supplement will be that of €70 per child, while for the others this will be of €50 per child.
  • The threshold for the in-work benefits will be increased to €35,000 for families in which both parents work; to €23,000 for single-parents in employment; and, to €26,000 for families in which only one parent is in employment.
  • The Foster Care Allowance will be increased by €520 annually, for a total of €5,270.
  • Couples who adopt locally will also be given a maximum of €1,000.

 

 

  • Pensioners will get an additional €3.25 weekly, apart from the COLA allowance.
  • The taxable pension value will also be increased to €14,058.
  • Senior Citizens aged 65 or older, especially women who would have been out of employment in the past, and who would have paid social security contributions, and who would not qualify for a pension, will be getting €50 added to their annual bonus.
  • Persons, who were born before 1962 and who do not qualify for a pension when taking into account the contribution paid after 19 years of age, will have all their contributions taken into account, and if the required minimum is reached, the person will then qualify for a pension.

 

 

  • Service Pension will be increasing by €200, which will not be considered for the social security pension assessment, meaning that the exempt sum for 2021 will go up to €2,866.
  • The subsidy for the Carer at Home will be increased by nearly €700, reaching a total of €7,000.
  • Parents who would have to terminate their employment to become carers of their children with different abilities, aged 16 and over, will be entitled to an additional €300.
  • The Government committed itself to give compensations to Drydocks workers who have suffered from Asbestosis, once it is given all the details of the persons concerned.

 

 

  • Tal-Linja Card will be given free of charge to senior citizens aged 70+
  • Government Savings Bonds for Pensioners will be issued once again, with 6,000 additional senior citizens being eligible.
  • The First Time Buyer Scheme, the Second Time Buyer Scheme, the Scheme for Vacant Property Bought Outside the Urban Conservation Areas, the Scheme for Property Bought in Gozo, and the Restoration Refund Scheme will all be extended.
  • In the case of First Time Buyers, €200,000 will now be exempt from stamp duty.

 

 

  • A reduced stamp duty rate of 3.5% on the first €200,000 will apply when purchasing the residence in which one lives, and when inheriting a property in which a person would be living.
  • The tax-exempted amount on the value of a dwelling which would be donated by the parents to their children for them to reside in will increase to €250,000, after which a 3.5% rate applies.
  • The concession for a business transfer will be extended for another year.
  • Authors or Co-Authors will now pay 15% on royalties.

 

 

Incentivising Economic Growth

  • COVID Wage Supplement, to be extended to March 2021
  • Tax Deferrals, Loan Moratorium, Bank Loans Government Guarantee, and the Interest Subsidy, all of which were announced in the Government’s Plan for Economic Regeneration, will remain in place, with an evaluation taking place in March.
  • Some €120 million in European Funds will be allocated to support jobs which were affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

 

  • €220 million in European Funds from the Resilience and Recovery Fund will be allocated for investment in the environment and climate change sector, as well as in the digital sector.
  • A new Digital Strategy will be drawn up for Malta, which will include, among others, the promotion of VR, AR, IT, 3D Printing, Quantum and High Performance Computing, AI, as well as encouraging and empowering students to pursue a career in Video Game Development.
  • Threshold of VAT Exemption for Self-Employed will be increased from €20,000 to €30,000
  • Businesses will be encouraged to sell their products and services online.

 

 

  • Malta Enterprise will be launching a scheme for businesses which employ 50 people or less, so that they can embard on innovation projects.
  • Malta Enterprise will extend, enhance and launch investment schemes, for established businesses and to attract new investment. These include: Micro Invest; Business Development and Continuity Scheme; Research and Development 2020 Scheme; the R&D Feasibility Study Scheme; and, Business Start.
  • Extra focus and attention will be given to the Aviation and the Maritime Sector including the creation of the Aviation Policy, and the enhancement of the Maritime Register.
  • A request for State Aid vis-a-vis Air Malta will be submitted to the European Commission.

 

 

  • The tourism industry will be aided through an updated Tourism Development Strategy based on a new beginning for the tourism industry, built on sustainable and competitive foundations, aiming at a product of higher quality.
  • Moreover, the Tourism Industry will be assisted in becoming a Net Zero Carbon Neutral Industry, through a long-term implementation plan.
  • The Conferences market will be stimulated to attract tourism in the “dormant” months.
  • Various Tourist Areas will be given new life through regeneration projects. A Design Contest will be held for a Holistic Regeneration Plan to be laid out.

 

 

  • The Safe City Concept will be introduced, starting with Paceville, using a network of CCTV Cameras.
  • On employment in Gozo, the Employment Refund Scheme, the Teleworking Scheme, the MICE Scheme will be extended while the Back office Employment Refund Scheme and promotional support schemes for Gozitan Businesses which operate in digital innovation, internet and the tourism sector, will be enhanced.
  • The regeneration works on Gozo’s main arterial roads will continue next year, with the design and assembly of mosaic murals in tourist areas, as well as embellishment works in the Blue Lagoon area on Comino.
  • A Fast-Ferry Service between Malta and Gozo will be introduced after any difficulties are ironed out.

 

 

  • The fourth Gozo Channel Ferry will become permanent, after a call for offers will be issued.
  • On the tunnel between Malta and Gozo, the pre-qualification questionnaire, which is the first phase out of three is completed. This will eventually lead to the project being feasible, to a selection of the ideal concessionaire, who will design, build, operate, finance and be responsible for the tunnel.
  • Farmers and Fishermen will be given a grant, as from next year, which will be equivalent to the tax which is paid on the products which they sell at Pitkali or at the Fish Market.
  • On a mass transport system – after the first phase of the study, on whether a light-rail underground system can be introduced, has been completed – in 2021, the second phase of this study, which includes geo-technical analysis will be carried out.

 

 

Green Economy

  • Green Bonds will be encouraged by the Malta Stock Exchange, which will offer attractive packages for businesses. These bonds will finance projects which promote renewable energy and projects which reduce air pollution.
  • The infrastructure relating to the plastic bottles refund scheme will be put in place, including the placing of cash-back machines where one can return the empty bottles.
  • The use of single-use plastics will be tackled in 2021, as products made out of single-use plastics will no longer be allowed to be imported as from January 2021. The sale of such products will be banned as from 2022.

 

 

  • The Ta’ Qali National Park project will continue in 2021
  • The National Biodiversity Strategy 2022-2030 will be laid out next year.
  • Urban zones will be made greener throughout 2021 – these include open recreational spaces and village squares.
  • A scheme to encourage private residences and shops to install green walls, will be introduced next year.

 

 

  • The mechanism by which the registration and vehicle license fees are calculated, which are based on gas emissions, will be revised to allow for the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure with some people ending up with a reduced payable amount, and others will end up paying the same.
  • Schemes which serve as an incentive to invest in renewable energy sources will be extended, as will the feed-in-tarriff for electricity generated from the installation of PV panels.
  • Five Eco-Intermodal Hubs will be installed in five strategic spots in Malta and Gozo. These will include the facility to rent e-scooters and e-bikes, mobile charging stations and WiFi Hotsports.
  • A further 130 medium-fast and fast-charging pillars will be installed next year.

 

 

  • A study on the switch from a fuel-operated vehicle to a electric vehicle will be taken up next year.
  • A Scrappage Scheme for pollution-heavy vehicles will apply in 2021 with the value being determine according to how much the vehicle in question pollutes. The maximum value that can be given through this scheme is €7,000 – and the scheme is applicable to private individuals, private companies and registered NGOs.
  • Measures relating to the acquisition of electric cars will be extended for another year.
  • The VAT refund scheme on bicycles and electric bikes will also be extended, as will the scheme which incentivises the acquisition of motorbikes, scooters and motor-assisted bicycles, for a maximum of €400.

 

 

  • The grant given to those who would want to switch from a petrol to a gas car, will be increased to €400, given that the C02 emissions, reduce by 25%. This scheme will also be extended, to €800 to passenger and commercial vehicles.
  • Annual Circulation Licences for 125cc – 250cc motorbikes will be reduced from €65 to €25.
  • A €10,000 grant will be given to those new Taxi vehicles which will be wheelchair friendly.

 

 

Infrastructure

 

  • Central Link Project and the New Pembroke-High Ridge Junction will be completed next year.
  • Works will start on the Kirkop Tunnels, on the Airport Intersection Project, on the Luqa Junction Project and the Msida Creek Junction Project.
  • Marsascala Bypass will be rebuilt, as will a new subway close to Portes des Bombes
  • Various residential and rural roads will be renovated as will the island’s main tunnels (Santa Venera, Kirkop, Tal-Qroqq, and Ta’ Giorni)

 

 

  • Wide pavements, bridges and lanes for cycling will be built, and the Safe Cycle Routes Project will be launched.
  • A new breakwater will be built in Marsaxlokk, and new quays will be built in St Thomas Bay, and Marsascala, and the existing quays at Cirkewwa and the facilities for fishermen in Imgarr, Gozo will be rebuilt.
  • The Grand Harbour Clean Air Project will be launched, which will lead to shore side electricty at the Grand Harbour.
  • A Former dumping site in Marsa will be transformed into a new centre for SMEs

 

 

  • The Ta’ Qali Crafts Village project will be completed next year, and support will be given to the businesses who might have fallen back on their construction so that the Village will open at one go.
  • A new Outpatients and Parking Area will be built at Mater Dei Hospital
  • Modernisation at Mount Carmel Hospital will continue throughout 2021
  • A New Northern Regional Health centre will be opened

 

 

  • Gzira Health Centre will be refurbished
  • A New Health Centre in Victoria, Gozo will be finalised.
  • A New Blood Transfusion Centre will be built.
  • A New Sports Complex for the University of Malta will be built. This will include facilities for performing arts, indoor track for athletes, a full-size football ground, an Olympic Track as well as new premises for the Institute of Physical Education and the School for Performing Arts.

 

 

  • More facilities will be built at MCAST
  • Two new schools will be built: Msida and Victoria Gozo
  • The Secondary School at Sta Lucija and the St George Primary School in Qormi will undergo modernisation.
  • New Sport Facilities will be built, in preparation of Malta hosting the Small Nations Games in 2023. These include, an indoor-rowing tank in Cottonera, an Outdoor Velodrome in Pembroke and a new Rugby Complex in Kordin.
  • 1,200 Social Housing Apartments will be finalised in the coming year, while extensive maintentance and upkeep will continue in social housing apartment blocks and in housing estates
  • The Building and Construction Authority will be established next year, with the aim of reducing the risk of accidents at construction sites. This authority will be resposible for policy-making, and will also issue regulations and standards for the industry. An Indipendent Tribunal will also be established, as well as a Compensation Fund.

 

 

  • A regeneration project will kick off in Cottonera, covering Senglea, Kalkara and Vittoriosa, and the building of a new promenade in the area, while works will start on the Pieta and Msida promenades.
  • The sandy beach at Ghadira is going to be extended, and the projects relating to the Ghadira and Birzebbugia parking areas will be finalised.
  • Further restoration works will be done, by Heritage Malta on various sites of national importance, including the Grandmaster’s Palace, the Armoury, the Maritime Museum, Fort Ricasoli, and the Cottonera Lines.
  • Similar projects will be undertaken at the Victoria Lines, in Gharghur, on the Salib ta’ l-Gholja Chapel.

 

 

Education and Health

 

  • Malta will be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once this is available
  • A Pandemic Reserve has been created, which will provide more resources so that the country can overcome, effectively, the spread of COVID-19
  • Additional finacial resources will be allocated, to allow for hiring or additional facilities at Mater Dei Hospital
  • Osteoporosis Treatment will be added to the Government’s Formulary

 

 

  • New Psychiatric Medicine will also be added to the Government’s Formulary
  • A New Acute Psychiatric Care Hospital will be built close to Mater Dei Hospital
  • The Infrastructure Network of Mater Dei Hospital will be updated, extending the Remote Patient Monitoring, and new Clinic Management Systems and a Telemedic Client Support Centre will be introduced.
  • The Strategy on the Elimination  of Hepatitis C will be launched in 2021.

 

 

  • Services relating to the care of the elderly, including Home Help and Telecare will be enhanced, and improved.
  • Free Internet Access will be given for a year to those students who choose to continue their studies after they finish secondary school
  • Online learning service will now be available to adults and employees so that they can further enhance their skills.
  • Autism Units will be created in Middle Schools

 

 

  • A pilot project will see students sitting for their SEC exams in the same school they attend.
  • Registered VOs which have an annual income of less than €50,000 will be exempt from cash.
  • Producers, event organisers, and exhibitors and operators in the sector will be aided by the Government – though, how this will be done was not specified.
  • The use of digital technology will be encouraged when putting up artistic and cultural events

 

 

  • A National Symposium on Culture and Creativity will be organised in 2021
  • Assistance will also be given to Local Councils, amongst others, through an ICT Strategy for Local Government, as recommended by the NAO

 

 

Governance and Security

  • Following new legislation based on the recommendations of the Venice Commission, the discussion relating to the Constitutional Convention led by The President of Malta will continue
  • The Offices of the State Advocate and of the Attorney General will be further enhanced, with the held of experts from The World Bank
  • Malta presented its report to Moneyval on the 5th October, in which, all the 58 recommendations were addressed
  • A proposal will be put forward to extend the retirement age of the members of the Judiciary, and there is also the plan for new appointments to the Bench

 

 

  • The possibility of holding civil court procedures via video streaming will be explored
  • The Police in the Community Project will be enhanced in 2021, which will also be the first year in which the Malta Police Force will be led by a Strategy Plan based on 49 concrete actions.
  • The Police Station in Marsascala will be finalised and opened, and work will start on having new Police Stations in Msida and Hamrun
  • A New Command and Control Room will be finalised at the Police HQ, while the Forensics Division will undergo a process of modernisation

 

 

  • A New programme for Young Offenders will kick off, while the psychology unit will be enhanced
  • Further investment will be allocated to the Armed Forces of Malta
  • New vehicles will be acquired for the Civil Protection Department
  • A New Fire Rescue Centre will be opened in Santa Venera, while the infrastructure at the current centre will be further developed

 

 

  • Malta will continue working, on an international level, to ensure that there is inter-state collaboration vis-a-vis the phenomenon of migration
  • Work-Life Balance measures will be introduced and encouraged, incentivising male participation in family life, further strengthening equality
  • An LGBTIQ Centre will be founded, which will host, a number of services offered by the Government and Civil Society to the LGBTIQ Community, under one roof
  • Financial support will also be provided to the LGBTIQ Community for the organisation of EuroPride 2023.

 

 

  • The IIP programme will be revised, and updated – and will include rigorous criteria to ensure that the right people are selected following a thorough process

 

You can read the full Budget Speech by Clicking Here

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