The 4th summary of EU and Government of Malta measures in response to COVID-19.
1. Announcement by the ECB
On 18 March 2020, the ECB’s Governing Council announced:
- The launching of the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), an asset purchase programme of private and public sector securities. PEPP is expected to have an overall envelope of €750 billion, with purchases of eligible assets being conducted until the end of 2020.
- The expansion of the range of eligible assets under the Corporate Sector Purchase Programme (CSPP) to non-financial commercial paper, making all commercial papers of sufficient credit quality eligible for purchase under CSPP.
- The easing of the collateral standards by adjusting the main risk parameters of the collateral framework. Particularly, the ECB will expand the scope of Additional Credit Claims (ACC) to include claims related to the financing of the corporate sector, ensuring that counterparties can continue to make full use of the Eurosystem’s refinancing operations.
2. Conclusions by the President of the European Council
On 17 March 2020, the President of the European Council identified the Council’s four priorities vis-à-vis the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Limiting the spread of the virus: The Council endorsed guidelines proposed by the EC on border management, opting to apply a coordinated temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the EU for a period of 30 days. Concurrently, the Council is prioritising the passage of medicines, food and goods, and EU citizen’s ability to travel to their respective home countries.
- Providing medical equipment: The Council welcomed the EC’s decision to adopt a prior authorisation for export of medical equipment. The Council is also supporting the EC’s efforts to engage with the medical equipment industry, run joint public procurements to provide sufficient protective equipment and purchase protective equipment through the Civil protection framework.
- Promoting research: The Council encouraged the efforts made to support research, such as the Advisory Group on COVID-19 and will support European companies in developing a vaccine and making it available to all those in need.
- Tackling socio-economic consequences: The Council endorsed the Eurogroup’s statement on March 16 (a summary of that statement may be accessed on our 2nd alert <to add hyperlink please>). The Council is supporting the various initiatives taken by the EC in the areas of the Single Market, including the adaptation of the State Aid Rules, the use of the flexibilities provided for in the Stability and Growth Pact and the recourse to the EU budget.
1. Legal Notice 82 of 2020 (Closure of Places Open to the Public (Amendment) Order, 2020)
This Legal Notice extends the remit of Legal Notice 76 of 2020 (discussed in Update 2) ordering the closure of outlets to massage parlours, and the proviso stating that inter alia restaurants situated in hotels shall continue to provide room service to hotel guests and delivery service in the community to cafeterias as well.
2. Legal Notice 83 of 2020 (Enforcement of the Order relating to Closure of Places Open to the Public Regulations, 2020)
Legal Notice 83 of 2020 introduces a penalty of €3,000 for each and every breach to Legal Notice 76 of 2020, as amended.
3. Legal Notice 84 of 2020 (Epidemics and Infectious Disease (Suspension of Legal and Judicial Times) (Amendment) Order, 2020)
This Legal Notice amends Legal Notice 61 of 2020 discussed in an earlier update. L.N. 84 provides that when the Superintendent of Public Health orders the closure of the Courts, such order shall also suspend:
- The running of any legal and judicial times;
- The running of any other time limits including peremptory periods applicable to proceedings or other procedures before the said Courts; and
- Prescription in criminal and civil matters.
The suspension shall last until 7 days following the lifting of the repeal of any such order by the Superintendent.
4. Legal Notice 85 of 2020 (Commissioners for Justice Act (Schedule) Regulations, 2020).
Legal Notice 85 of 2020 provides that any breach to Legal Notice 76 of 2020, as amended, shall be regarded as a scheduled offence for the purposes of the Commissioners of Justice Act.
5. Legal Notice 86 of 2020 (Issue of Permits by Local Councils (Repeal) Regulations, 2020)
This Legal Notice repeals Legal Notice 73 of 2020, which suspended the placement of stalls in open-air markets. Nevertheless, open-air markets fall within the purview of Legal Notice 76 of 2020, as amended, and therefore must still remain closed to the public.
1. Commissioner for Revenue
The Commissioner for Revenue has published further detail regarding Malta Enterprise’s tax deferral scheme, as follows:
- The taxes in purview of this scheme are provisional taxes, employee taxes, maternity fund contributions, social security contributions (including those of self-employed persons) and VAT which fall due for settlement in March and April 2020.
- No interest or penalties will be charged in respect of any such deferrals.
- Any deferred taxes (excluding VAT) will be settled in four equal monthly instalments during May-August 2020.
- Deferred VAT will be settled in two equal instalments with the two quarterly returns immediately following the quarter whose dues would have been deferred.
- The scheme is available to companies and self-employed persons that suffer a significant downturn in their turnover as a result of the economic constraints arising from the coronavirus pandemic and, as a result, face substantial cash flow difficulties as identified in the online application form.
- Companies and self-employed persons not adversely hit are advised and encouraged not to avail themselves of this scheme. Ideally, eligible taxes should continue to be paid every month and on time because that would make for good business management.
- Companies and self-employed persons which have failed to comply with tax obligations (submission of documents/returns and payments) falling due by 31st December 2019 may not benefit from this tax deferral scheme.
- The benefit granted under this scheme shall be forfeited if the beneficiary is found to be in breach of any of its terms and conditions, making use of this scheme under false pretence. In case of forfeiture, beneficiaries will have to settle their dues as demanded by the Commissioner for Revenue and such payments shall be subject to interest or penalties as stipulated by law.
- Applications for this scheme may be submitted online through an application form made available on Malta Enterprise’s website (see Section 4.2 below). The benefit granted under this scheme shall not remove the obligation of beneficiaries to submit documents and returns by the due date as required by law
2. Malta Enterprise
Malta Enterprise has made available the application form for the tax deferral scheme, which application form is accessible with an e-ID account, and the corresponding guidelines. The guidelines reproduce the detail contained in the notice published by the Commissioner for Revenue as addressed above.
Malta Enterprise has extended the following:
- The primary deadline for self-employed persons to submit their MicroInvest application from 24th March 2020 to 30th April 2020;
- The Gozo Transport Grant Scheme’s claim submission deadline for costs incurred in 2019 from 3rd April 2020 to 3rd June 2020.
EY to launch a Global COVID-19 Stimulus Tracker
Around the world, governments are implementing stimulus measures to offset the economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. To help stay on top of the most current stimulus updates, EY will shortly be launching the Global COVID-19 Stimulus Tracker with inputs from the EY Global Tax Policy, Indirect Tax, Tax desks and National tax departments around the world.