Saturday, November 21, 2009

Business Frustrations in Malta.

So I am starting a business called SCH Fire Safety here in Malta & Gozo, around six months ago I visited all the government websites to dig up all the information that would assist me and ensure that I was doing everything according to local laws, well I am the new kid on the block I don't want to be on the wrong side of the law before I even get started.

Now here is my problem VAT - you see the VAT threshold is very low here in Malta and even if the size of your potential business empire does not hit the VAT threshold you still need to register your business with them as VAT exempt. I was told it would take a couple of weeks for the paperwork to be rubber stamped and be issued with a VAT number, so I thought no problem I will start marketing the business, networking and generally putting myself out there.

One month later I have heard nothing, yes I have chased them but they are still processing the two pieces of paper I sent them. I know says I, I will go and open a business bank account that needs to be done, off I go to HSBC to meet with a business services manager, I am told I can not open a business bank account without a VAT number, my frustration was quickly forgotten as that same day I got two offers for work, could I carry out a fire safety audit for two companies in Malta, I will have to get back to you, says I, as I can not operate my business without a VAT number, I can not issue invoices, I can not get insurance, I can not complete my website, I can not get stationary printed, I can not work at all.

Who would benefit, well yes I would of course but so would Malta & Gozo, I would also be generating income for the country, paying income tax and VAT (lol) as well as building a business that may offer much needed local employment in the future.
When I discuss my problem with local business people they tell me 'well this is Malta' as if that was some kind of justification. More and more often I am finding that 'well this is Malta' is used by locals to justify bad service.

I thought the application process would be simplification itself, after all it's only 2 bits of paper, and those bits of paper just have to be rubber stamped.
Why is simplification such a long word?

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the fine line between sanity and madness gotten finer?" George Price

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