Malta’s business community and trade unions have urged the government to rethink terms and conditions attached to its €1.8 billion COVID-19 ‘rescue package’.
Last week, Malta’s new Prime Minister Robert Abela presented the Labour Party’s COVID-19 economic pledge, focusing on maintaining liquidity of Malta businesses.
The Malta Treasury’s headline policy saw the government commit to a €1.6 billion liquidity fund which will absorb a reported €700 million in tax deferrals and €900 million in business-loan guarantees.
Supporting its economic measures, Malta’s government will also provide businesses with access to a €4.5 billion credit facility, mitigating long-term COVID-19 impacts.
During the isolation period, all Malta registered businesses will be compensated with a €350 per employee ‘quarantine leave’ payment.
The Malta government added that it will provide €800 per month in guaranteed benefits to any Maltese or EU National who is made redundant during the outbreak period.
Publishing the terms of Malta’s relief package, Abela underlined that the measures had been undertaken in cooperation with Malta’s business community.
However, the Malta Employers Association (MEA) has criticised the government’s economic plan, stating that the package guarantees were ‘different to the label’.
Issuing a statement to the media, it bemoaned the fact that the economic plan focuses on tax deferments, rather than the outright cancellation of payments, during a global crisis period.
In addition, the MEA and further Malta trade unions argue that Labour Party measures are insufficient for hospitality and leisure incumbents impacted by the loss of tourism revenues.
“The bulk of the package is a deferment – not cancellation – of VAT and Social Security payments, and loan guarantees,” the statement read. “The impetus should have been more on wage subsidisation, rather than liquidity. This would have been more effective to protect jobs in the private sector.”