BUSINESSES and workers will benefit from a raft of rents and rates cuts to help them in the economic fallout caused by COVID-19.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo spoke of the challenges of getting the economy working when ‘there is not much of a market out there’.
The new measures will replace the BEAT COVID measures that helped pay employees and reduce business costs over the last three months.
He said he wanted to ‘intervene as little as possible’ that would be unfair while providing support and aid.
The measures have been drawn up by the different business groups and unions that make up CELAC (Covid Emergency Liaison & Advisory Committee).
The new framework will mainly apply from July to September and will be discussed in Parliament over the next days.
They would try to stop unemployment rising while also taking away the burden from the taxpayer.
“We believe these measures represent the right balance between assistance and intervention,” said Picardo.
“We believe these are the measures our economy needs.”
Rates for businesses, already cut in half, will now be reduced to 75% if they are paid early.
Normally rates are paid every three months in Gibraltar with 92% of businesses having paid them by March 31 this year.
All companies on commercial property except for supermarkets and pharmacies will be able to use these discounts.
Government will cut its rents by 50% for the next three months.
Private landlords are encouraged to reduce rent by 25% and will be taxed 75% of their rent if they do not make those discounts.
Property renters who do not have rent lowered by private landlords will owe three times less tax for the rent they pay.
A new system of BEAT payments will work out an average of payments made to businesses during April and May.
The government will then pay 60% of that wage for July, 40% for August and 20% for September.
Each business will have to work to the guidelines of the ‘Unlock the Rock’ document.
They will be contacted by email and asked to comply to BEAT 2.0 conditions to receive the payments.
However, PAYE and social insurance payments, including those due last March will still need to be paid by March 31, 2021.
Picardo also told Parliament of the question and answer session he had with the House of Lords on June 25.
The Chief Minister answered questions on post-Brexit talks and the COVID-19 pandemic with no active cases on the Rock.
He said ‘with goodwill, energy and enthusiasm’ he was confident to ‘deliver a positive outcome’ from talks with Spain over the next few months.
The upbeat message comes after the new laws to reduce prices of tobacco to 32% of Spain were published.
They are part of the Gibraltar Protocol with Spain and include eight new laws that will be passed by June 30.
It will mean the British territory falls into line with the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade on Tobacco Products, known as the Seoul Protocol.
These changes will be introduced slowly to allow local companies to get used to the price change that could also affect public revenue.
The new regulations need to be passed by June 30 and are vital for ongoing Brexit talks with Spain and UK.