File photo: Daniel Cilia

Gozo forum: We did not want stamp duty incentive removed for all property sales

Għal Għawdex says incentive should only end for apartment block developments

A group of Gozitan organisations is urging the government to limit the increase in the stamp duty paid on Gozo properties to new builds.

Last week, Times of Malta reported that a budget pledge to raise the stamp duty paid on Gozo properties outside of urban conservation areas has been postponed by a month.

The Gozo property scheme, which offers a reduced tax rate of 2% as opposed to 5% of the property value, was meant to be phased out by the end of the year. This phasing out was promised as part of an effort to slow down the construction frenzy in Gozo. However, it was quietly postponed until the end of January.

In a statement “setting the record straight”, Għal Għawdex said that the implementation of the measure was “widely attributed” to the Għal Għawdex Forum.

Għal Għawdex is made up of Din L-Art Helwa Għawdex, Ghawdix, Wirt Għawdex, Gozo Business Chamber, Gozo Tourism Association, Kunsill Reġjonali Għawdex and the Gozo University Group.

The forum represents environmental NGOs, the business and tourism sectors, the 14 local councils and student groups in Gozo.

However, Għal Għawdex never asked the government to remove the 2% stamp duty property incentive from all purchases in Gozo.

“The forum requested the removal of this incentive for the sale and purchase of newly constructed apartment blocks and was only one in a series of fiscal measures proposed with the intention to shift the demand and supply of property in Gozo from the present unsustainable path to one that is more aligned with the needs of the island in the long term,” the group said in a statement.

“The indiscriminate manner in which the incentive was removed, simply meant that a positive economic tool which could have been used wisely, was completely discarded.”

The forum said that the 2% stamp duty had, over the years, helped boost the economy of Gozo, stimulating interest in the island’s village homes, houses of character and farmhouses.

“However, it also paved the way for taxpayers to indiscriminately subsidise the purchase and sale of apartment blocks that are destroying the fabric of the island, its village and ridge skylines, its uniqueness and tranquillity and negatively changing the demographic and social norms of the island.”

Għal Għawdex clarified it had proposed the following fiscal measures:

  • Removal of fiscal incentives only on the sale of buildings and land for development into apartments.
  • Retaining the existing incentives on sales and purchase of properties in UCA where the purchaser signs a guarantee to restore the property without subdivision.
  • Extending the incentives presently applicable to UCA (including zero stamp duty on purchases and zero capital gains tax on sales of property) to include all vernacular and postwar properties in Gozo outside of UCA where buyers undertake to preserve the integrity of the property, respecting and not exceeding the surrounding traditional village heights.

In its budget plans for 2024, the government had removed all stamp duty incentives applicable to Gozo “in exactly the same indiscriminate manner in which it introduced them in the first place”, the forum said.

“The way forward is not to eliminate the fiscal incentives, but to remove those incentives causing harm and increase those designed to support the restoration and renovation of traditional buildings … If the government is really serious about stopping the destruction of Gozo, the way forward is to rethink the fiscal incentive schemes and to consider adopting the Għal Għawdex recommendations.

Only then can we see the light at the end of the tunnel and truly start to believe the rhetoric about Gozo that so far is paying only lip service to the reality we see around us.

Article Source: Times of Malta

move2Gozo is an active supporter of the Ghal Ghawdex Initiative

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