Malta Chamber of SMEs reacts to government proposals during Covid-19

The Malta Chamber of SMEs has welcomed the positive response to the critical issues raised and the acceptance of its proposals for a number of sectors. The Chamber of SMEs will keep on voicing concerns in representation of sectors that still need support.

During the last week the Malta Chamber of SMEs has been in continuous discussions with the Prime Minister insisting that the unemployment benefit should be a basis of an employment benefit across the absolute majority of sectors.

The reality is that it is the majority of sectors that have suffered a close to complete drop in business overnight. Whilst a number of these sectors have been asked to close their doors, others are still allowed to open with business levels standing at close to none.

The Chamber of SMEs therefore welcomes the announcement in principle as a very good first positive step that fulfilled part of the request that was have presented to the Prime Minister. The chamber believes that this should give the necessary lifeline for the coming months for businesses that are desperately in need and will be celebrating the opportunity to be able to retain their workforce. The details of the implementation of such a scheme will be essential to ensure that this opportunity will be as accessible as possible.

This is being said in full cognizance of the fact that that there are other sectors and individuals that need help and as an organization the chamber will continue voicing their concerns and making sure that help reaches them. 

The Prime Minister has given the Malta Chamber of SMEs his assurance that the government will be keeping an open channel of dialogue and be responsive to the needs of the private sector.

The chamber is working on other important measures that require strengthening, that are all important to sustain business in this delicate time, and require greater support from all the banks through general moratoria for both businesses and individuals and revision of interest rates. Other measures include tackling problems associated with rents and other costs part of most businesses’ running costs.

The new financial aid package in brief:

  • The government will be subsidising private companies in sectors hardest hit by the Coronavirus outbreak to the tune of €800 per month per employee.
  • The €800 government subsidy will be paid to the workers through their employers. Those companies that cannot afford to pay the additional €400 to their employees because they would have been too badly impacted by the current situation are to register with the Department of Industrial Relations.

The critical sectors are: wholesale, retail, accommodation, food and beverage service activities, vehicle rentals, employment activities, tour operators, travel agencies and other related enterprises, security companies, building services companies, transport companies, creative arts, and entertainment activities, personal activities – such as barbers, beauticians, and other similar enterprises.

  • Other sectors, such as manufacturing and warehousing, will be paid for one day of work based on €800 per employee, with the possibility of this increasing to two days further down the line.
  • For Gozitans working in these sectors, the payout mechanism will go straight to two days.
  • Those who are self-employed and who employ workers with them will be eligible to pay covering three days weekly. 

All measures will be administered by Malta Enterprise and the Department of Social Security.