The obligation on cab operators to place their cars in commercial garages when not in use will now only apply to those with five cars or more, according to a legal update announced by Transport Malta.

All Y-plates, as cabs are often known, still need to be garaged, but operators with up to four cars may use residential garages.

The new rule effectively exempts smaller fleets from an obligation that had long gone unenforced, and comes following uproar among cab operators and calls for action by the public, with photos of Y-plates parked in non-commercial garages becoming a common sight on social media.

Mantvydas Narusevicius / Photo by Inigo Taylor

“Government did a good job here,” says WFDM CEO Mantvydas Narusevicius, telling BusinessNow.mt that the threshold “makes a lot of sense”.

Among other business ventures, Mr Narusevicius manages a fleet of 32 vehicles.

He argues that running a fleet of five cars essentially amounts to a good-sized business, likely having anywhere from 10 to 14 drivers and “easily” generating €400,00 to €500,000 in annual revenue.

“If you’re turning half a million gross, you’re a business, and need to be regulated like a business,” he says.

The entrepreneur believes that the Maltese authorities “really did their homework” and calculated a threshold that is “very favourable” to small operators and the self employed.

However, communication remains a problem: “The economy is a bit like Bitcoin,” Mr Narusevicius says, referring to the notoriously volatile cryptocurrency. “Someone says something, and people start panicking. In fact, many were trying to sell their cars last week out of fear of the impact of the new rules.

“Better, more timely and more transparent communication would have prevented that.”

The bottom line, Mr Narusevicius, says, is that five cars is a “substantial investment generating substantial income”, and it makes sense that operators at that level should abide by all the regulations covering the sector.

“It’s very fair.”

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