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Further measures to support business in Malta in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

Last updated - June 2021

New announcements and business measures 2021

In a continued effort to alleviate challenges encountered by businesses in Malta as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, various authorities have over the last weeks announced new or extended fiscal and other measures. 

We are setting out below some information on these measures.

June 2021: Updates to some of the new Business Support Measures in April 2021

The Malta Enterprise Corporation has issued the incentive guidelines relating to the Rent Subsidy and Electricity Bill Subsidy Schemes (point 4) and the One-Time Grant Scheme (point 5). 

Further information is expected to be made available over the course of the coming weeks, and we therefore encourage you to visit this page from time to time for the updated information.

1. Extension to COVID-19 Guarantee Scheme (CGS) administered by the Malta Development Bank

In April last year, the Malta Development Bank launched the CGS scheme under which businesses could benefit from improved access to liquidity, at lower interest rates and with a repayment period of up to six years. The CGS enabled the accredited commercial banks to provide new working capital loans to support businesses with their working capital requirements relating to operating costs.

Further information on this Scheme may be found here.

In order to continue supporting businesses in obtaining access to liquidity during these turbulent times, this Scheme has been updated as follows: 

  • The moratorium period on both interest payments and capital repayments has been extended by a further 6 month-period, and therefore businesses may benefit from a total moratorium period of 18 months (ending in October 2021);

  • The deadline for applying under this Scheme has been extended from June 2021 to September 2021; 

  • The definition of eligible working capital costs is also being widened to include payments of interests and repayments of capital as opposed to solely expenditure relating to operating costs.

 

2. Extension to the Tax Deferral Scheme

One of the first measures that was announced by the Government to assist businesses experiencing a significant downturn in turnover as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was the postponement of certain eligible tax payments.

The scheme was extended a number of times during 2020, and has recently been further extended such that businesses that had not benefited from the scheme in 2020 now have the opportunity to apply if they experienced a significant downturn in turnover (as defined) in 2021 or 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019. The online application form must reach the Commissioner for Revenue by 15 May 2021.

Eligible taxes comprise provisional tax payable by companies and self-employed persons, social security contributions of self-employed persons and VAT, falling due between August 2020 and December 2021. Tax due on chargeable income for a year of assessment (settlement tax) is not considered eligible for deferral. 

The settlement period for deferred eligible taxes will commence from May 2022. 

Businesses that had already benefited from the scheme in 2020 will be automatically considered for the extended period, and therefore eligible taxes that had originally been deferred to 2021 continue to be deferred to 2022.  The submission of the online application form mentioned above is not required for this to apply.

In all cases, the deferral applies only to the payment of the relative taxes. Obligations to file documents and returns remain applicable as per the relevant statutory deadlines with any default in respect thereof resulting in late filing penalties. 

 

3. Support measure linked to certain transfers of immovable property

Another support measure that was announced aims to target certain businesses that derive capital gains from the transfer of land and/or immovable property. 

This will be subject to a number of criteria and conditions, including the requirement that the promise of sale agreement in respect of such transfer is signed by 31 March 2022. Further guidelines relating to this measure are expected to be issued in due course.

Colleagues discussing over laptops

4. Renewed Rent and Electricity Schemes

A. Top-up of Rent Support Scheme

Non-essential shops and services that had to close down during March and April 2021, and which are beneficiaries of the wage supplement scheme, will qualify for rent support again in 2021. 

The renewed scheme, which will again be administered by Malta Enterprise Corporation (MEC), will offer a grant of 50% over and above the amount of assistance awarded in 2020. The relevant payments will be processed by MEC on the basis of information provided in 2020.

Applicants which did not avail of this Scheme in 2020 but had to close down during March and April 2021 and are availing of the wage supplement scheme, are eligible for the aid under this Scheme as follows:

No of employees
receiving the wage supplement
Eligible rental agreements Maximum aid awarded
1-9 1 €1,250
10-19 Up to 2 €2,000
20 - 29 Up to 3 €2,750
30 – 39 Up to 4 €3,500
40 and over Up to 5 €3,750

An application process under this Scheme is necessary only for those businesses that did not avail of the Rent Subsidy Scheme in 2020. In fact, MEC will be contacting all eligible applicants in mid-July for the submission of the application form, in the case of new applicants, or to verify the information available at MEC for existing beneficiaries.

B. Top-up of Electricity Support Scheme

Similarly to the top-up of the rent support scheme, the top-up of the Electricity Support Scheme is also applicable to businesses which had to close down during of March and April 2021.

The Scheme is being enhanced and will cover up to a maximum of 50% of the electricity bill for the months of June, July and August of 2021 as per the following cappings:

No of employees receiving
the wage supplement
No of distinct electricity
accounts
Maximum aid awarded
1-9 1 €1,500
10-19 Up to 2 €3,000
20 - 29 Up to 3 €4,500
30 – 39 Up to 4 €6,000
40 and over Up to 5 €7,500

A full application process is required for those businesses that availed of a wage supplement only during March and April 2021.  A simpler application form will be sent to those beneficiaries that benefitted from the Electricity Bill Subsidy Scheme in 2020 and therefore have their ARMS account number already registered with MEC.

5. One-time grant to mitigate against loss of business due to restrictions imposed

A one-time cash grant against loss of revenue will be provided to those businesses that are beneficiaries of the wage supplement and which had to remain closed after 10 May 2021, in terms of restrictions announced earlier this year by the Government to limit the spread of the pandemic.

The aid granted will amount to €1,000.

To simplify the application process, Malta Enterprise will send an email to the eligible beneficiaries with a link to the application form. The application form will only require information on the amount of De Minimis Aid that a beneficiary may have availed of in a three-year period.  Following the vetting of the application process, the funds should then be automatically transferred to the beneficiaries’ bank account.

6. Change to Grow Scheme

The Change to Grow Scheme will enhance the currently prevailing Business Re-engineering and Transformation Scheme and is intended to incentivise businesses to embark on new investment projects aimed to strengthen business activities, create new products or diversify existing services, or use more sustainable practices including in technology.

The scheme will provide aid of up to €10,000 relating to costs incurred in connection with a consultation process preceding the implementation of projects.

Under the enhanced scheme, self-employed and micro enterprises will also be eligible for the benefit.

7. Restart Incentive Scheme

A. Financial support with respect to new business initiatives

The Restart Incentive Scheme targets entrepreneurs that experienced a drastic decrease in business activities and/or a permanent closure of their business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The scheme will provide financial support to such entrepreneurs in order to engage professional business advisory services to restart their business activities by adapting to new and sustainable business models. 

Each entrepreneur may be granted financial aid, up to €5,000, with respect to professional business advisory services. Such aid may be extended to €10,000 to support the implementation phase of the new business initiative.

B. Psychological support to Entrepreneurs

Malta Enterprise Corporation will launch and fund a specialised programme intended to provide professional psychological support to entrepreneurs whose business was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Employee answering a telephone conversation

8. Smart and Sustainable Investment Scheme

The Smart and Sustainable Investment Scheme is intended to assist businesses in all sectors of the economy to embark on new investment opportunities which lead to a more sustainable and digital economy.

The aid granted will be a combination of cash grants amounting to a maximum of €50,000, which may be topped up with an additional 20% support in the form of tax credits.

Higher  cash grants may be available for businesses operating in Gozo, start-ups, and investments that directly create new green jobs.

9. Extension to the period of aid allowed in terms of the MicroInvest Scheme

Under the rules of the MicroInvest scheme, tax credits awarded to beneficiaries may be utilised over a period of three years. 

In view of the downturns experienced by businesses as a result of COVID-19 and the resulting likelihood that such period will not be sufficient to allow the beneficiary to utilise the intended aid, the said period is being extended by an additional three-year period for MicroInvest certificates which are due for expiry in 2021, 2022 and 2023. As a result, such certificates will now instead expire in calendar years 2024, 2025 and 2026 respectively.

 

Conversation between workers

Contact us

David Ferry

David Ferry

Tax Partner, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 6897

Victoria Muscat

Victoria Muscat

Senior Manager, Tax, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 6739

Maria  Demanuele

Maria Demanuele

Tax, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 6789

Svetlik  Grima

Svetlik Grima

Tax, PwC Malta

Tel: +356 2564 2526

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