Your family’s property
The legacy left by Labour in their successive governments was a system of hefty taxation on income and on all assets owned by families. The succession tax was so high under Labour that, in many cases, children who inherited property from their parents would be constrained to either sell off the property or take a loan to pay the exorbitant tax.
Various reforms introduced by Nationalist governments in the 1990s saw the drastic reduction in income tax from 65 per cent to 35 per cent and the repeal of succession tax in 1992. In more recent years, stamp duty of five per cent was to be paid on all property inherited or donated.
The Nationalist Government’s last Budget, which the Labour Opposition have committed to adopt should they be elected, but paradoxically voted against, committed to eliminate stamp duty on residential property from parents to their children. The PN electoral programme has now committed to a further pledge to eliminate stamp duty on the transfer of all property, not just residential property, from parents to their children whether it occurs by donation or through inheritance.
This measure reflects the PN’s continued commitment to have a fair system of taxation and not to tax income and assets owned by families disproportionately. We have come full circle with this promise to remove all stamp duty from all property inherited. Gone are the days when property inherited resulted in the crippling of personal finances – February 9.
Salini – back to its former glory
The works that are taking place in connection with the Salini Rehabilitation Project are now in an advanced stage of implementation and will be concluded by the end of this year. The €7 million EU-funded project being carried out by my ministry consists of the restoration of the salt pans, the restoration of Ximenes Redoubt and Fougasse, the reconstruction of the wooden huts and the rehabilitation of the salt marsh and cleaning of the surrounding garrigue. Yesterday afternoon, together with Minister Mario de Marco, I visited the works.
The restoration of Ximenes Redoubt has been completed and finishing works are now being carried out for its conversion into an interpretation centre for the Salini area.
An underpass will be constructed in the coming months to connect the Ximenes Redoubt with the Salini area to enable visitors to cross the busy Coast Road safely.
The salt pans, which are being restored, will be used once again for salt making. The salt produced will be stored in two of the wooden huts that are being constructed. One of these huts is in an advanced stage of completion and the other will be constructed in the coming weeks. A third hut is also being built and this will be used as a museum dedicated to salt making.
The objective of this project, co-financed through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, is that, once completed, Salini will provide a tourist destination and both local and foreign visitors will be able to enjoy the natural, cultural and archaeological potential of this Natura 2000 site.
The project, together with others in this part of the Maltese islands such as the rehabilitation of Magħtab for use as a park, the Qawra aquarium, the extension of the Salini Park and the Bird Park, will continue to improve the tourist product in these localities – February 8.
Let’s keep our edge
We’ve Lost Our Edge, Says Former President, said the headline on the Cyprus Mail a few days ago when former Cypriot President George Vassiliou argued that Cyprus has lost its edge as a financial service centre. In his critique, he argued that, if Cyprus wants to succeed and compete, then it will have to keep up with the bar set by other EU member States, most notably, Malta and the UK.
What a stark contrast to the advice that Joseph Muscat gave us back in 2010 when, in his reply to the Budget speech, he criticised the Nationalist Government’s economic and financial management, ignored the financial crisis that dominated the international agenda and suggested that Malta should be following Cyprus’ example.
It’s a good thing we didn’t heed his advice. Three years down the line, Malta boasts the third highest increases in GDP per capita since 2008. Malta is the EU member State that saw the lowest drop in early school leavers since 2001 and the highest increase in University graduates since 2000. Malta also boasts the sixth lowest rate of unemployment within the EU.
In the meantime, Cyprus has had to resort to requesting bailouts and Angela Merkel herself stated that, in this regard, Malta is an example of financial stability.
As the PN manifesto states, foresight is of the essence. Hindsight is useless if you are entrusted to run a country. Time and again, Muscat proves that he is not the right man for the job – February 7.
From 700 students to 700 courses
As I speak to people about the PN’s electoral programme and all that it has to offer to ensure the leaps and bounds in quality of life that we deserve, I cannot help thinking of the contrast between the prospects that are available now and the reality that we lived 25 years ago.
As a father, my main priority is my daughter. Like all other parents, I want her to gain the best education possible and have a world of options and opportunities available to her.
At the moment, she is in sixth form preparing to sit for her A levels. She is enjoying a well-rounded education, where she focuses on her studies, as well as the extracurricular activities that are so important for character building and, let’s face it, fun and memories.
When I was in sixth form, much of my time was taken up in the struggle against the socialist regime that – as Muscat himself is now hypocritically claiming – left a dark stain on our country’s history and negatively impacted so many people’s lives.
In the 1980s, entering the University meant being made to jump through hoops, with a numerus clausus in place and sponsorships required. In my time, the student body was made up of a meagre 700 individuals.
The reality that my daughter enjoys is a world apart. There are 700 courses on offer at the University of Malta today. The student population is over 11,000, with another 6,000 at Mcast.
Students receive a stipend to help ease the financial burden of pursuing tertiary education. A total of 2,000 scholarships were awarded during the last five years to make sure that more and more students continue to study at a postgraduate level.
This is not to mention the proposals being put forward in the PN electoral programme. More options for post-secondary study. The setting up of an Arts Academy. Increased investments in the University of Malta and Mcast. A reinforced stipend. Another 3,000 scholarships over the next five years.
Travel grants for 21-year-olds to visit an EU country.
At 17, this was the stuff my dreams were made of.
For my 17-year-old daughter, the world is her oyster – February 6.
George Pullicino is Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs.