4 July 2001
By Miriam Dunn
Malta can expect to see some extensive changes to the way business and trade licences are issued when new legislation relating to the practice is introduced in the near future.
Speaking during an interview with The Malta Business & Financial Times, Parliamentary Secretary in the Economic Services Ministry, Edwin Vassallo, said that most important was the move to take the responsibility for issuing licences away from the Police.
"Instead, the granting of business licences will come under a new authority to be set up which will fall within the commerce division of this ministry," he said.
Mr Vassallo added that the plan was to have a new system in place by January that will see each department issuing its own licences, with its own legislation to adhere to.
"By doing this, we will be developing a one-stop shop system and reducing the red tape and time spent traipsing round various departments to get a licence," he explained.
The parliamentary secretary also said that the various ministers would be making a contribution to business licences that fell within their area, by setting some of the relevant perimeters.
"For example, the issuing of catering licences could be based in the hands of the Malta Tourism Authority," he said. "We believe this division of responsibility will help in the upgrading of the business community in general."
Mr Vassallo said another important proposal in the new law was a plan to look at the issue of the registration of entrepreneurs in the service sector who are not licensed because they are not working in business premises.
"I believe eventually this will lead to further legislation which will enable us to enforce not just at point of entry into business, but also at point of sale, helping in the upgrading of commercial activity further down the line," he said.
The legislation covering the new trading licence is now imminent, with copies of the draft already in the hands of the constituted bodies. Mr Vassallo also plans to discuss the legislation with other business representatives over the next few days.
"We are at a consultation stage at the moment, listening to the business communitys feedback, which I firmly believe will help the political debate," he said.