Transport Malta is currently implementing a digital transformation that will speed up the process, and simplify access, for the issuance of a subsidy extended by the Government to those buying a new electric vehicle (EV).
Replying to a parliamentary question posed by Opposition MP Paula Mifsud Bonnici, Minister for Transport Aaron Farrugia stated that digitalisation is expected to help the authority improve its service, which has often come in for criticism over the long time it takes to disburse the funds related to the EV grant.
Buyers receive €11,000 when opting to go electric, with an additional €1,000 (€2,000 in Gozo) on offer if they scrap their previous vehicle.
Noting that Malta offers the largest subsidy in Europe with regard to EVs, Minister Farrugia added that €15 million were allocated for the scheme in 2022 and 2023 through the EU-funded recovery and resilience plan.
Structuring the financing available as a grant rather than as a soft loan, as is the case in much of Europe, has boosted the scheme’s popularity, with Transport Malta receiving around 4,026 applications for the grant over 2022 and 2023.
Since the beginning of 2023, Transport Malta has “sent for payment” 2,238 applications, while another 423 still need to be processed. Minister Farrugia claimed that these pending applications only date back to August 2023.
However, what happens after an application is sent for payment remains something of a mystery, as even a cursory look on social media reveals multiple appeals for clarity about applications that are six or more months old.
Applications have also been running far beyond their advertised processing time – listed on Servizz.gov as four months – without duly informing applicants, who are often left entirely in the dark about the status of their claim.
Speaking to BusinessNow.mt, several applicants voiced concern about being subject to interest payments due to the autodealers they bought their cars from.
“We have a contract stating that I would pay the outstanding amount – the amount of the grant – from the date of purchase. If I do not get the grant in time, I will need to pay interest,” said one.
Another applicant said they ended up paying the €12,000 out of pocket: “I’m lucky to be able to afford this. But these delays mean that the scheme is not living up to its promise of assisting those who might otherwise not afford an EV to buy one. It is just serving to provide a discount to those of us who can afford to pay the entire amount and then get a refund at some unknown point in time in the future.”
Dr Mifsud Bonnici asked Minister Farrugia to confirm whether this is indeed the case and whether the Government will be covering such interest and late payment fees owed by car buyers to autodealers, since they are being incurred due to delays at Transport Malta.
Minister Farrugia however replied that Transport Malta cannot comment on whether private individuals’ obligations to private sellers are being met.
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