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Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

From fewer cars available to unregulated prices at the gas stations, this year is set to start off with a thud.

During his budget presentation back in October, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert listed several taxes and changes that are to be implemented in fiscal 2021, some are set to start in January 2021 including the liberalisation of the local fuel market.

Under the new arrangement, the fixed retail margins will be removed. This means that petroleum retailers and dealers would be allowed to fix their own margins.

Imbert said then that the wholesale margins will remain fixed for the time being and an

“Appropriate but reasonable tax introduced to compensate for the current fuel surplus that is generated on the sale of gasoline, because of depressed oil prices”.

While Imbert said that the net result should be little or no increase in the price of fuel, once the price of oil improves, it could spell a proportionate increase in gas prices.

Access to imported used cars is also expected to change from this month.

In the budget presentation, Imbert said that “the permissible age of imported foreign used cars will be reduced to three years and the quotas for the importation of used cars reduced by 30 per cent”.

The Government will also introduce a quota system for the importation of new cars.

The protracted and contentious property tax is expected to make its debut this year.

According to the budget, the objective is to begin collection in fiscal 2021, starting with residential properties.

This new year will also see the restoration of the Value Added Tax (VAT) to its original concept.

According to Imbert, it would be broadened to include luxury imported goods. The full 12.5 per cent would be applied to lobster, escargot, smoked salmon, pâté, clams, strawberries, champagne, apples and grapes.

The full list will be published “in due course” and will take effect from today.

In some positive news, the Governments $500 million Agriculture Stimulus package is set to roll out this year. The establishment and funding of this package would mean a 70 per cent increase in the customary budget allocation to the Agri sector.

Government will also implement tax breaks for small and medium companies this year.

The allowance is set at 150 per cent, with a cap of $3 million and includes:

• A tax allowance will be provided to businesses which engage in technology solutions and digitalisation. The allowance is set at 150 per cent with a cap of $3 million.

• A tax allowance will be provided to businesses which create employment in the technology industry, particularly young people.

In the first quarter of 2021, the Government has also promised to roll out MiFi, a mobile device that creates mini wireless hotspots.

Land developers have another reason to celebrate the new year, new tax concessions.

Approved housing, commercial and industrial development projects, which start on or before December 31, 2022, will pay no value added tax on the importation of building materials to be used exclusively in connection with the projects. The exception is on road paving and aggregate material.

Imbert said that this measure will be similar in administration to the tax concessions granted to developers for approved tourism projects and will take effect from January 1, 2021.

In a similar vein, private sector investment in residential housing will now face an amended stamp duty.

The threshold for residential properties now ranges from $1.5 million to $2 million for first-time homeowners. First-time homeowners will save up to $28,000 in stamp duty and Imbert calculated that that move would benefit some 1,000 families per year.

Illegal land movers and quarries will face harsher penalties this year.

Not only would illegal quarries be fined but any company that knowingly trades in illegally sourced quarry material will be disqualified from participating in Government construction projects.

Praedial larcenists will also face a fine increased by 200 per cent.