The UK government will pay 80% of wages of company workers in an effort to prevent massive job losses amidst the coronavirus outbreak, a figure that undoubtedly dwarfs Malta’s plan.
Following the announcement of a business bailout package worth £350 billion, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the state would pay 80% of employees’ salaries up to a total of £2,500 per month, which stands just above the median income.
Malta Prime Minister Abela has announced its own stimulus plan worth €1.8 billion to support businesses, however several companies have warned it is nowhere near enough to prevent mass layoffs and have urged for for partial subsidies of employees salaries.
Although the government will provide forced-to-shut businesses a grant to cover some staff costs, the plan will only cover a maximum of 3 days per week based on a cap just over the national minimum wage.
Essentially, this means businesses only stand to gain €320 for each employee, based on a cap of €800 per month.
Reacting to the package, business consortiums like the Chamber of SMEs have warned it will not help businesses cope, resulting in subsequent mass unemployment and have urged the government to look at other countries’ approaches to keep business afloat and workers in jobs.
In fact, certain businesses have already warned that they will soon be be forced to lay off staff. In a statement published today, the representative organisation for English language schools FELTOM warned of near 20,000 students cancellations within the month of March, with an expected financial loss to the economy of €23.7 million.
“ELT schools, just like most other sectors are now in very dire straits and people are being put on forced leave. We need proper and serious measures to safeguard all employees on whose expertise, this successful sector has been built,” the organisation said.
Meanwhile, PN MEP Roberta Metsola and former PN president Mark Anthony Sammut urged the government to apply a similar package to the one launched by the UK.
“Malta take note. We must do what we can to avoid mass layoffs, closures and the catastrophic economic and social consequences that brings with it,” Metsola said.
“This is what an emergency budget to tackle the Coronavirus looks like. You either step up your act, or this country will go down the drain,” Mark Anthony Sammut urged.