18 July 2001
By Daniela Farrugia Randon
A new draft law states that trade licences will no longer be issued by police stations but rather from the relevant authority or department responsible for the commercial activity in question.
The law was presented to the constituted bodies yesterday afternoon at the ministry for Economic services by Parliamentary Secretary Mr Edwin Vassallo.
Mr Vassallo said this was only one of a long list of meetings he would be having with the traders. He explained that the law aims to make the procedure of issuing licences simpler and more efficient.
Mr Vassallo commented that the trade licence will no longer be the means for the government to regulate trade, as has been the case since 1949.
Each company or organisation will now obtain its trade licence from the body it falls under. Mr Vassallo highlighted the importance of co-ordination and communication between the Planning authority and the trade sector.
In this way, he stressed, there would not be instances in which a permit is issued for a bar and the owner will not be able to operate because of neighbour complaints.
Mr Vassallo was adamant that government would no longer tolerate companies operating without a licence in view of the simplicity to obtain such a licence. He labelled black economy as the enemy of trade and a source of unbalanced competition.
As the government moves toward further toward liberalisation, economic operators have to take on their responsibilities Mr Vassallo stated.
The new licences will require entrepreneurs to obtain certain qualifications. Mr Vassallo added that a consultative committee will be set up to discuss issues related to the different trades. Mr Vassallo reassured every one present that he would personally get in involved if the body in charge of issuing licences does not make itself available to the operators.
The Trade Services facility at Lascaris in Valletta will oversee the new regulations.
Mr Vassallo stressed that it is not enough merely to register a company with the VAT department, but one also has to have a trade licence to be able to operate.
When asked, Mr Vassallo assured that licences from police stations will continue to be issued up to November. Regarding inspections, Mr Vassallo said he wanted it to be a friendly matter and not one that causes tension and that the new law should encourage auto regulation.
In conclusion, Mr Vassallo said that local councils will be granted more powers allowing them to pursue people no holding a licence. In order to motivate them into this new task, they will receive a commission from the licence.
Mr Vassallo emphasised that the price of the licence will not, however,
be increased to cover the costs of the commission.