Left: Ian De Cesare (Photo: Eden Leisure Group), Right: Economy Minister Silvio Schembri
Malta will witness “mass unemployment” unless the government uses its reserves to rescue struggling businesses, renowned entrepreneur Ian De Cesare has warned.
“If [Economy Minister] Silvio Schembri thinks that ‘businesses in difficulty’ means shareholders need to suck it up and carry on with zero revenue and 100% expenses, he would think further than his nose and consider mass unemployment when these companies cannot continue to afford paying salaries while closed for business,” De Cesare, whose business interests include the Eden Leisure Group, said on Facebook.
“This is our second month with mass cancellations and reduction in revenue, now down to zero. This crisis is untenable, we are all linked together, we are all hurting together. If his government takes this attitude, we will reluctantly jump for cover and look after our own interests.”
“When companies go under, he can then use his €600 million [the money saved up in the national sovereign wealth fund] to pay people to survive.”
De Cesare also posted news of the Danish government’s recent announcement that it would cover 75% of private employees’ salaries over the next three months if their employers promised not to fire them.
The government has promised to launch a ‘mini-budget’ to help businesses by the end of the week but has already attempted to temper the expectations of the business community.
Silvio Schembri said the government is prioritising the safeguarding of jobs, particularly of Maltese nationals, but said employers must play their part too.
“Our principle will be that there must be a form of burden sharing,” he said tonight. “While the economy was doing well, businesses, workers and the government all benefitted. We will apply this same principle in these challenging times.”