15 JANUARY 2003

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Alfred Mifsud, Lino Spiteri support MLP’s VAT decision

It was not only the business community that agreed with Dr Alfred Sant’s decision to retain VAT and although the Nationalist Party are making a political mileage out of the issue, two of Malta’s top economist feel that the decision was a valid one.

Labour candidate Alfred Mifsud, who has always been in favour of the VAT taxation system, told The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday that after seven years of working with a system it would have been wrong to remove it.

The Labour candidate, who had even declared that he was ready to withdraw his electoral candidature if the party pledged to remove VAT in its electoral manifesto, said that it is not only the party that should see that it’s priorities are right, but that what we have to keep in mind is what’s best for the business community.

As he said in an interview with our sister newspaper MaltaToday a year ago, Alfred Mifsud said that he always pressed hard for the MLP to retain VAT because the country could not afford another tax change.

"It could be adjusted by introducing different tax bands, in short I believe that the VAT needs some pruning," Mr Mifsud had earlier suggested with no hint that his candidature with the Labour Party was conditional on the party retaining the VAT system.

The VAT ‘remove-or-retain’ debate had already claimed the scalp of former Labour finance minister Lino Spiteri in 1997 and, presumably not wanting to find himself in the same awkward position, Alfred Mifsud has opted to lay his cards on the table. After the demise of the Labour government, Lino Spiteri had written that the decision by the Labour Party to campaign against VAT when it was introduced in 1995, was lumped on him by Alfred Sant. Mr Spiteri even claimed that he got to know about the Labour Party’s stance on removing VAT from the media.

Asked about Dr Alfred Sant’s decision on retaining the VAT, Mr Spiteri said that it surely removes one uncertainty. He said that although the move won’t make an enormous difference business wise, it is surely a step in the right direction.


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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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