Editorial | The Y-plate saga

It is about a level playing field, being creative, sustainable and - more importantly  - having a long term vision


At a glance, the Y-plates saga may appear to be a one-off event that merits media attention and direct political action.

But a deeper and closer look at the scandal reveals a culture of greed and impunity. Ingrained in Maltese society beyond the territories of the political parties.

In this scandal we have different participants who have converged to take advantage of a system that is full of loopholes and deficiencies.

To start with, the individuals who own the companies that have registered Y-plates lack the right credentials to run such companies. Not because they may be foreigner but also because they have resident status that does not allow them to get involved in this kind of activity.

Secondly the prerequisite to have Y-plate cars is linked to proof that the cars will be garaged. Many of those who own companies and have purchased hundreds of Y-plate cars have convinced architects to sign declarations that the cars will be stored on land which carries no building permit, is in an ODZ zone which is in fact an agricultural zone.

Surely the architects who have signed this declaration need to explain themselves. That is why have they fraudulently acted in this way.

Coupled with this, major car importers are delighted to have catered for the unusual demand in cars. Ensuring that the companies that have Y-plates are given preference over regular clients when it comes to buying cars which has resulted in the current long wait when ordering cars.

Added to this is the ‘importation’ of foreign drivers – with dubious driving licences and working conditions  – which leaves much to be desired.

Complemented by the unfair playingfield for those players who are bona fide tax payers, compliant with the law and primarily local-based companies.
This is matched, needless to say, by bad working conditions for the foreign workers and the evident evasion of tax.

The government was right to come down harsh on these incorrect business practices sand the inequalities that came with them.

It was correct in taking action and withstanding the pressure of the big car importers and the big and tax avoiding Y-plate owners.

Trimming them down to size will work wonders for the current and competitive taxi and cabs service industry. It will also calibrate the market, take some heat off the inflated cab market and to a lesser extent reduce the number of cars on the road.

Government needs to send a strong message to those who abused the system.

Yes, it is time to be tough and make it clear that business is not about shafting the system and finding ways round it.

It is about a level playing field, being creative, sustainable and - more importantly  - having a long term vision.

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