Yesterday’s vote of confidence turned out to be a huge anti-climax and little more than a formality following the announcement made some hours before by PN backbencher Franco Debono of his intention to vote with the government. Apart from the various money bills which the government has also managed to survive this year, this was the third time in the space of eight months that its parliamentary majority has been put to the test. The result left no room for political interpretations as the Speaker’s casting vote was not required, since there was an outright majority of 35 votes in favour and 34 against, much to the satisfaction of the Prime Minister who had openly declared that this was the only acceptable outcome this time round (read full parliamentary report on pages 4 and 5). Dr Gonzi and other government MPs were greeted by a small number of party supporters, who gathered outside the Presidential Palace at the end of the sitting, some carrying PN flags and others singing political slogans. Any doubts that Dr Debono was still pondering about his vote were totally erased by early afternoon, when in an unprecedented move this newspaper received an official invite from parliament for tomorrow’s sitting of the Select Committee for the Recodification and Consolidation of Laws which is presided by none other than Dr Debono himself. This highlights the fact that Dr Debono is highly aware that the only hope for his reforms in justice, home affairs and party financing to be implemented, lies in the prospect of allowing the government to complete its five-year term.(independent.com.mt) The Prime Minister is ready at all it seems.
Record May traffic at Malta Airport
Passenger movements at Malta International Airport grew by 5.8% during May, reaching 344,008 passengers – which is a record for the month. Aircraft movements and seat capacity also registered an increase on those registered during May 2011, with an increase of 2.2% and 2.7% respectively. The average seat load factor went up by 2.2 percentage points over the same month last year. The increase in aircraft movements resulted also in an increase in the maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 3%, while cargo and mail registered a 3.8% increase. All five major markets registered growth during May 2012 when compared to the same month last year. The highest increase, 18.7%, was registered in the Spanish market, followed by an increase of 6% in the German market, 5.8% in the French market, and 3.5% from the UK. The Italian market registered an increase of 2.3%.(independent.com.mt) This is a very good news for tourism.
Two businessmen sentenced to jail in VAT cases
Common man in both cases. Two businessmen were sentenced to jail today in separate VAT fraud cases. Keith Stagno Navarro, who used to run one of the restaurants within the Marsa Sports Club, was jailed for 18 months and fined just under €26,000 for defrauding the VAT department of about €28,000. In a separate case, Alexander Scudamore, the director of Alex Limited that ran Bouzouki restaurant in St Julian's, was sentenced to seven months in prison for attempting to defraud the department of about €35,000. Magistrate Doreen Clarke, who presided over both cases, heard how Mr Stagno Navarro had problems with the VAT Department and owed about €28,000. He phoned a friend at the department who gave him the contact number of a certain Alfred Mallia who could help. Mr Mallia met Mr Stagno Navarra and asked for some €10,000 in return for his help. Mr Stagno Navarra said he noticed that the returns had incorrect information but he did nothing to fix them. He was given the impression that Mr Mallia worked for the department. In a similar case, Alexander Scudamore, 45, was sentenced to seven months imprisonment after being found guilty of association in trying to defraud the VAT Department. The court heard that the accused had filed a tax declaration to the VAT Department showing that he was due a refund of €20,590. However after police investigations were launched, the company requested a correction of its declaration showing that it actually owed €16,358 to the VAT Department. The case happened in 2009.(timesofmalta.com) Defraud the VAT is very dangerous.