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GRTU has held various discussions with both the previous and present administration regarding the extent of the legal capacity that Local Councils have to grant temporary permits for operators to set up stalls by virtue of the Activities Requiring Permits by Local Councils Regulations (Legal Notice 119 of 2002 as amended).

Regulation 10 within this Legal Notice allows Local Councils to afford a temporary permit specifically for religious feasts and Public Events held in the locality. Specific provisions are even included whereby Local Councils are obliged to give priority in the allocation of stalls during feasts to the sale of Maltese nougat.

It is abundantly clear that the scope of the legislator behind this law was to regulate the temporary stalls that characterise our local religious feasts, not to establish a platform that allows the bypassing of the Commerce Department and the Trade Services Directive altogether.

Nonetheless Local Councils are utilizing this regulation in particular in order to grant long term permits to operators, without vetting tax compliance, which permits are also often extended practically all year round. These result in, for example, the countless vans we see mushrooming near our roundabouts in various localities, particular when nearing special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, selling flowers and other items, to the detriment of shop owners that would have been waiting for such occasions all year whilst dutifully paying their licenses, permits and taxes.

GRTU insists that this was clearly not the intention of the legislator when drafting the said Regulations and therefore Local Councils should not be allowed to over reach and extend in this manner. GRTU continues to insist that such abusive practices can no longer be tolerated and the relevant amendments to the law be introduced.

GRTU has already presented its proposed amendments to the Regulations to the competent authorities and discussed them directly with the Minister for Small Businesses, Dr. Chris Cardona. Such amendments would leave no scope for interpretation and close any loopholes that are giving way to abuse. While there is an evident legislative failure that needs to be seen to, the Government is unfortunately dragging its feet on the issue. GRTU is insisting with the Government to intervene in this regard without further delay and stop this unfair competition.

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