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BUSINESS TODAY 10 November 2022

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2 NEWS 10.11.2022 Through the Wage Supplement Scheme, €825 million in support was provided to firms and businesses to substantially cover partial wage costs in order to reduce the burden during COVID-19 restrictions and thus, prevent redundancies. The scheme was initially launched in 2020 and tapered out up to May 2022, aimed at helping firms and businesses during the recovery period. Businesses could also apply to postpone the payment of taxes such as VAT and income tax through the tax deferral scheme. Starting from June 2022, the scheme's beneficiaries could pay the eligible taxes monthly over 30 months until the end of December 2024. During this period, the interest on the deferred tax is suspended. covid-19: liquidity support measures MATTHEW VELLA THE iconic Coliseum cinema building in Valletta has been handed over to real es- tate giants Valletta Boutique Living (VBL Group) for a final price of €6.4 million. In a company announcement, VBL said that on 1 November 2022, both parties had agreed to a reduced price of €6.4 mil- lion, and in addition to the deposit already paid, would pay €4.75 milion on the final deed of sale. e shopping mall was formerly the Col- iseum cinema before it was transformed into its present use in the 1980s.VBL Group, which describes itself as the largest single private property owner in the capi- tal, acquired the Coliseum complex from Pace Brothers plc for an undisclosed sum. Named after the famous Coliseum e- atre in London, the building offers access from both Zachary Street and Republic Street. VBL Group chairman Andrei Imbroll said the venue's perfect location in the heart of Valletta's high end retail district and its size made it an ideal target for the VBL Group, which runs its more known real estate project 'e Gut' in Strait Street. VBL Group's plans for the Coliseum complex remain under wraps. VBL has also entered into a set of financ- ing agreements with Bank of Valletta for a long-term development and acquisition financing facility of a total of €14,500,000, available to finance the company's earlier announced developments and acquisi- tions, as well as securing financing for on- going obligation. e company, which so far has operated without any significant loan financing, said it considers this new long-term financing facility a strategic step in the further devel- opment and growth of its business. "e securing of this financing facility is part of the Company's plans announced in the prospectus dated 23rd July 2021 and its strategy to continue expansion on the Valletta market and convert significant part of its existing property portfolio into renovated revenue generating assets. Last- ly, the Company would like to thank its shareholders, for their continuing support and confidence," VBL said in a company statement. VBL clinch Coliseum for €6.4 million, announce €14.5m in BOV financing THIS week, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation for new rules on short-term accommoda- tion rentals (STR). e rules aim to cre- ate more transparency in the short-term private rental accommodation sector. Having risen in popularity in Malta and across the EU, alternative private short-term rentals brought huge ben- efits to hosts and tourists, but the new model also raised several new challeng- es to other accommodation operators and local communities. For instance, short term rentals contributed to in- creased demand for real estate devel- opment with a consequential impact on housing prices and the environment. e Malta Business Bureau welcomed the proposal for an STR regulation giv- en that this economic activity remains generally unregulated or without suffi- cient enforcement, to the detriment of legitimate businesses. MBB President Alison Mizzi said that, "having a Europe-wide level-playing field through clear and simple rules for the registration and compliance of short-term rentals is essential and everybody stands to gain. Tourists will continue benefiting from a wide range of accommodation choices, traditional accommodation providers can compete on a fair level playing-field, and public authorities will have a more robust legal backing in gaining access to data, which will contribute to a more sustainable tourism ecosystem." MHRA President Tony Zahra said that hotels and other accommodation pro- viders must adhere to strict regulations to be compliant and in accordance with existing laws and regulations which en- sure the safety and wellbeing of guests. "MHRA has been vocal over the years at the rampant disregard of these strict rules and regulations by non-licensed and non-compliant accommodation owners who not only fail to abide by these regulations but also fail to pay Vat, Income tax, and Eco-tax on earnings," he said, "is has the effect of possibly having substandard accommodation which affects the quality of the Maltese product and a great loss to the excheq- uer." e STR regulation aims to create a framework which enables public au- thorities to receive accurate data from online intermediary platforms on us- ers listing short-term accommodation rentals, the number of rented nights, and of guests. is will enable them to use this information to draft and imple- ment better and more effective policies. e STR regulation is also proposing for the setting up or updating of existent local registration systems that will gen- erate a unique registration number per property. is will need to be displayed on online platforms and verified. New EU rules on short-term accommodation rentals to promote transparency and data sharing

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