Malta, Israel’s new gateway to Europe

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Sup­port machine trans­la­tion:
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Malta, Israel’s new gate­way to Europe

As is the case every Tues­day, last week, as well, on Feb. 4, the Malta Air charter flight that took off from Ben-Gur­i­on Air­port was jam-packed. Some three or four years ago, Israeli tour­ists dis­covered that the small island is a gem, offer­ing magic­al land­scapes and four lav­ish casinos.
Sev­en couples of merry retir­ees took their seats at the front of the plane, just ahead of us. They exchanged impres­sions about hotels and exhib­ited impress­ive famili­ar­ity with the island’s res­taur­ants. Five days later, we met them again at the air­port in Val­letta, the cap­it­al. This time, the con­ver­sa­tion centered on their gambling exper­i­ences.

It appears that rel­at­ively inex­pens­ive pack­age deals have placed Val­letta high on the list of favor­ite Israeli gambling des­tin­a­tions, along with Rhodes, Bur­gas, Var­ena and oth­er cit­ies a mere two- or three-hour flight away.

Sea and casinos are not the only tempta­tions Malta has to offer. Fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the Cyp­ri­ot bank­ing sys­tem at the start of 2013, busi­nesspeople from around the world, includ­ing Israel, dis­covered the oppor­tun­it­ies of Malta for those with money to invest. Hun­dreds of hedge and ven­ture cap­it­al funds found refuge on the tiny island, and by the end of last year, more than 500 were oper­at­ing there.

In an art­icle pub­lished Feb. 7 by the Israeli fin­an­cial daily Cal­cal­ist, an expert on inter­na­tion­al tax­a­tion, the attor­ney Hen­ri­ette Fuchs, was quoted as say­ing that For­bes ranked Malta as one of the friend­li­est tax regimes in the world. (The rat­ing was con­duc­ted in 2008.) Malta is sig­nat­ory to 50 Con­ven­tions for the Avoid­ance of Double Tax­a­tion with vari­ous coun­tries, among them Israel. With the rat­i­fic­a­tion of the tax treaty with Israel in Janu­ary 2014, Fuchs believes Malta will stand out as a favored can­did­ate for Israeli invest­ments in Europe. The treaty, accord­ing to Fuchs, provides effect­ive pro­tec­tion for Israeli investors from the Israeli tax author­it­ies on rev­en­ues from inter­na­tion­al invest­ments.

Malta has an addi­tion­al advant­age to offer the Israeli investor: As a mem­ber of the European Uni­on, it con­sti­tutes an attract­ive gate­way to invest­ment in the uni­on. Fuchs noted that the sim­il­ar­ity between cor­por­ate law in Malta and Israel, which are both based on Brit­ish law, will help Israeli busi­ness­men adjust to the Maltese busi­ness world.

An Israeli tour­ist who loves shop­ping, travel or sea­food will find the top­ics of con­ver­sa­tion famil­i­ar in this small Medi­ter­ranean coun­try. In Malta, as in Israel, there is also a heated debate over the issue of asylum seekers from Africa. The num­ber of res­id­ents is minus­cule, some 411,000, but on the oth­er hand, the pop­u­la­tion dens­ity is one of the highest in the world, with 1,302 res­id­ents per square kilo­met­er (about 0.39 square mile) in 2012.

This has not, how­ever, stopped waves of immig­ra­tion to Malta. Its loc­a­tion, between North Africa and Europe, is likely the reas­on that in 2011, the num­ber of asylum seekers per cap­ita taken in by Malta was the highest in Europe. That is 10 times great­er than the United King­dom, for the sake of com­par­is­on. Malta, fol­lowed by Lux­em­bourg and Ita­ly, led the 2012 list of European states with the highest num­ber of undoc­u­mented arrivals.

On Oct. 11, after yet another boat of asylum seekers cap­sized off Malta’s coast, its navy was the first at the scene, help­ing pull pas­sen­gers out of the water. As things stand, we are just build­ing a cemetery with­in our Medi­ter­ranean Sea,” Prime Min­ister Joseph Mus­cat said at the time. I don’t know how many more people need to die at sea before some­thing gets done,”” he said.

When the own­er of a small res­taur­ant in the crowded hotel dis­trict of St. Julian’s, adja­cent to Val­letta, heard that we were from Israel, con­ver­sa­tion quickly turned to the issue of asylum seekers. The prob­lem with these Afric­ans, is that they bring chil­dren into the world without being able to care for them,” the man said in excel­lent Eng­lish, but with some­what less refine­ment. After­wards, I’m the one who has to feed them out of my taxes.”

The next day, the boat driver who took us to the Blue Cave on Malta’s south­ern coast told us proudly that he had saved a group of refugees, among them chil­dren and preg­nant women, whose ship had cap­sized. The sur­viv­ors, he said, were head­ing for Ita­ly, but their har­row­ing jour­ney ended in one of the deten­tion camps” that the Maltese author­it­ies have set up for them. These camps, like oth­er such facil­it­ies in the Middle East, are the butt of sharp cri­ti­cism by European human rights organ­iz­a­tions.

Malta is com­ing under addi­tion­al cri­ti­cism from its col­leagues in the European Uni­on, which it joined 10 years ago, over a new pro­gram to provide a Maltese pass­port to any­one invest­ing 1.15 mil­lion euros ($1.56 mil­lion) in cash or real estate in the coun­try, or as oppon­ents view it, to sell Maltese cit­izen­ship to the wealthy.

The plan is being cri­ti­cized by Malta’s cit­izens as well. At the end of Janu­ary, The New York Times quoted Maltese journ­al­ist Her­man Grech, writ­ing in The Times of Malta: Refugees who have been here for years and are pay­ing their taxes and work­ing hard, don’t have Maltese pass­ports. At least have the guts to give pass­ports to every­one. It is com­pletely xeno­phobic and cyn­ic­al to only give it to rich people.”

The Maltese debate over the treat­ment of Afric­an migrants is not essen­tially dif­fer­ent from the argu­ment that heated up in Israel fol­low­ing the imple­ment­a­tion of more strin­gent policies again­st asylum seekers.

The pro­gram to grant cit­izen­ship to investors includes a unique bene­fit that might appeal to Israeli busi­nesspeople: It provides a tick­et for entry to all 27 European Uni­on states and to 69 addi­tion­al ones, includ­ing the United States, without a visa. The recip­i­ent of the Maltese pass­port is not even required to relo­cate his or her res­id­ence to the island for very long. Unlike oth­er coun­tries seek­ing to attract the super rich, the own­er of the new Maltese-European pass­port will be required to live for only one year — a con­di­tion adop­ted under pres­sure from the European Com­mis­sion — in the coun­try where he or she will become a cit­izen.

Non­ethe­less, a seni­or European Uni­on offi­cial told Al-Mon­it­or that the heads of the uni­on were heav­ily pres­sur­ing Malta to scrap the pro­gram, and he fore­sees this hap­pen­ing soon. Any­one seek­ing attract­ive invest­ment oppor­tun­it­ies in Europe had bet­ter hurry.

Read more:­it­­ra­tion-africa-refugees-fisc­al-heav­en.html#ixzz4V9XJK1wn

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Malta, l-Iżrael portal ġdid biex l-Ewro­pa

Kif inhu l-każ nhar ta Tli­eta, ġimgħa li għad­di­et, kif ukoll, fuq Frar 4, it-titjira charter Malta Ajru li tel­aq minn Ben-Gur­i­on Ajruport kien jam ppakkjati. Xi tli­eta jew erba snin ilu, it-tur­isti Iżrael­jani sko­prew li l-gżira żgħira hija ġawhra, li jof­fru pajsaġġi maġika u erba casinos lav­ish.
Seba kop­pji ta nies irtir­ati Merry ħadu pos­thom fuq qud­diem tal-pjan, biss li għand­na qud­diem­na. Huma skam­b­jaw impress­jon­iji­et dwar lukandi u jiġi ese­bit famil­jar­ità impress­jon­anti mar-restor­anti tal-gżira. Ħamest ijiem wara, aħna sod­isfat­ti jer­ġgħu fl-ajruport il-Belt Val­letta, il-kapit­al. Din id-dar­ba, il-kon­verżazz­joni iċċen­trata fuq l-esper­jen­zi tal-logħob tagħhom.

Jid­her li jit­trat­ta pakkett relat­tiva­ment irħisa jkunu qiegħ­du Val­letta għol­ja fuq il-lista ta des­tinazz­jon­iji­et favor­iti logħob Iżrael­jani, flimki­en ma’ Rodi, Bur­gas, Var­ena u bli­et oħra sem­pliċi titjira b’żewġ jew bi tli­et sigħat bogħod.

Baħar u l-casinos mhu­miex l-uniċi tentazz­jon­iji­et Malta għand­ha x’toffri. Wara l-kol­lass tas-sis­tema bank­ar­ja Ċipri­jot­ta fil-bidu tal-2013, negoz­janti minn mad­war id-din­ja, inklużi l-Iżrael, sko­prew l-oppor­tun­itaji­et ta Malta għal dawk bil-flus biex jin­ves­tu. Miji­et ta fondi ta’ kapit­al ta lqugħ u ta’ riskju sabu kenn fuq il-gżira ċke­jkna, u sa l-aħħar tas-sena li għad­di­et, aktar minn 500 kienu jop­er­aw hemm­hekk.

Fl-artiklu ppubb­likat 7 Frar mill-Cal­cal­ist kuljum fin­an­zjar­ja Iżrael­jana, espert dwar it-tas­sazz­joni internazz­jon­ali, l-avukat Hen­ri­ette Fuchs, kien ikkwotat bħala qal li For­bes kklas­si­fikati Malta bħala wieħed mir-reġimi tat-taxxa friend­li­est fid-din­ja. (Il-klas­si­fikazz­joni sar fl-2008) Malta hija firmatar­ja għal 50 fte­him dwar ħelsi­en minn Taxxa Dop­pja ma diver­si pajjiżi, fos­thom l-Iżrael. Bl-rat­i­fika tat-trat­tat tat-taxxa ma Iżrael f’Jannar 2014, Fuchs jem­men Malta se joħorġu bħala kan­did­at favor­it għal inves­t­i­menti Iżrael­jani fl-Ewro­pa. It-trat­tat, skont il Fuchs, tip­provdi pro­tezz­joni effet­tiva għall-invest­it­uri Iżrael­jani mill-awtor­itaji­et tat-taxxa Iżrael­jani fuq id-dħul mill-inves­t­i­menti internazz­jon­ali.