3 APRIL 2002
By David Lindsay
Speaking to The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday, Central Bank of Malta Deputy Governor David Pullicino described March as a very busy month in terms of the governments Investment Registration Scheme.
In fact, Mr Pullicino says that agents were working late into the evening last Thursday, the effective closing date for the schemes first phase of discounted registration fees, in order to "cope with the flood of people leaving there registrations till the last minute in respect of the period given to benefit from the three per cent registration fee."
The schemes participants are required to pay a one-off registration fee equal to a percentage of the current market value of their investment three per cent if registered before 31 March, four per cent if registered between 1 April and 30 June and five per cent if registered after June.
With the reduced registration fee and with transparency practices being adopted by many traditional tax havens, many Maltese investors had sought to repatriate funds they had held overseas this month.
As Mr Pullicino explains, "While we do not have information as at the end of March in respect of the IRS, we do know that March was a very busy month in this respect.
"We do anticipate that the figures as at the end of March will be well inline with what was expected, with a good volume of investments being registered."
However, the Bank is bound by professional secrecy in respect of information it acquires over the course of its duties as Central Depository for the scheme and as such a detailed analysis of funds repatriated through the scheme would not be forthcoming.
But Mr Pullicino was able to reveal that it is clear that that a good number of people have taken advantage of the opportunity to register their hidden assets and, in many cases, the advantage that repatriating these will have on the income they earn.
Interest in the scheme has been high and the Bank was inundated with phone calls over this years first quarter and the Central Bank has just recently published an information booklet on the scheme in order to meet with demand.
As Mr Pullicino explains, "We hope that this [booklet] will be of help to those who still have some unanswered questions in their minds. But we will, of course, continue to answer specific questions when these are put to us.
"I would like to add that registrations are possible up till the end of December 2002, but for the next quarter, the registration fee will rise from three to four per cent, while registration after 30 June will only be possible at a fee of five per cent."