MHRA council votes unanimously
in favour of EU membership
With the tourism sector representing roughly one third
of Maltas GDP, the pro-EU camp received another strong vote of
confidence from the business community yesterday, with the 14-strong
Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association council voting unanimously
in favour of EU accession.
The vote, taken in the eleventh hour last Friday, is the culmination
of four years of intense analysis undertaken by the association.
The studies were topped off by a membership survey conducted by Deloitte
and Touche. MHRA President Winston Zahra Jnr also announced the association
had studied both accession and the MLPs Partnership documents
before finally arriving to their decision.
"Today, the MHRA has given a chance for its members to speak out
and express their views on EU accession. The MHRA has been diligent
and professional in its approach, assuming an apolitical role in the
conduct of these studies.
"Its decision has been based on the last four years work,
through three presidencies. The MHRA council studied all documents pertaining
to EU accession as well as the Partnership Option, when it had a meeting
with Dr Alfred Sant. The council also studied various transcripts of
Dr Sants speeches on the subject."
The MHRA membership survey conducted by Deloitte and Touche revealed
an overall support of 99 per cent for membership out of all decided
Amongst restaurant owners, only 43 per cent of MHRA members responded:
24 per cent are still undecided, whilst 66 per cent are in favour of
membership, and 10 per cent against.
A total of 76 per cent of three star hotel members responded to the
survey, representing 36 properties and 3,243 rooms. The total for membership
was that of 83 per cent, whilst 15 per cent are still undecided, and
two per cent against.
In the four-star category, representing 33 properties with 5,691 rooms,
91 per cent were in favour of membership and nine per cent were still
A resounding 100 per cent were in favour of EU accession within the
five-star category, representing ten properties and 2,150 rooms.
Altogether within the hotels category, with respondents representing
83 per cent of all members, and 79 properties and 11,084 rooms, nine
per cent were undecided, one per cent against, and 90 per cent in favour.
These hotels employ over 7,500 people.
"The survey is an undeniable statement that the only way forward
for the corner-stone of the economy, is to join the EU," Mr Zahra
"We cannot forget our competing destinations are also about to
join the EU. The status quo is nothing more than a slippery slide backwards,
which is why we have to learn to move forward."
Mr Zahra also revealed findings from MHRAs scientific analysis
explaining how non-EU membership and EU membership would be affecting
revenue flows for companies in the hotel and restaurants sector.
In the non-membership scenario, VAT fiscal policy would be affecting
revenues between a positive 4.9 per cent to a negative 15.2 per cent.
In the case of membership, revenues would be affected between a positive
0.8 per cent to a negative 1.1 per cent. Winston Zahra said the MHRA
would continue to lobby for zero-VAT rating, which in turn he contended
could only serve to generate more employment and concurrently more taxes
for the government.
In terms of the introduction of the euro, this would affect revenues
by a minus 2.9 per cent in the non-membership scenario, whilst in the
case of EU membership, a positive 2.6 per cent.
In the case of the Tour Operator Margin Scheme, as a non-EU country,
Malta is not impacted, whilst as an EU member, it will be incurring
a negative impact of minus 1.5 per cent. As regards the UK airport tax,
which had previously affected revenues by a negative 1.4 per cent, today,
and even as of EU accession, the impact will be nil.
In total, the MHRA have estimated non-membership to sway its revenues
from a negative 19.5 per cent to a positive 0.6 per cent. On the other
hand, EU accession would guarantee a positive range of between 1.9 per
cent to 2.2 per cent increase in revenues.
Remarking about the political manipulation of issues, Mr Zahra said
that no issue could be treated in isolation and that the MHRAs
study had presented a scientific and objective study, which had yielded
the grounds on which its council had voted.