Maltese manufacturing companies could soon start feeling the pinch as supply chains worldwide get cut as a result of the global COVID-19 crisis, Malta Enterprise CEO Kurt Farrugia has warned.
“We’re keeping tabs with manufacturing companies and are on the phone with them day in day out to discuss their situation,” Farrugia said on Lovin Malta’s talk show #CovidCalls. “Some are finding that their supply chains are being cut as a result of factories closing in other countries, while some are working just fine but then find that other factories have closed when it comes to sending their products.”
“We feel that, in the coming days and weeks, manufacturing might be feeling the pinch as much as other businesses. This is a global challenge, we don’t live in a bubble and we’re affected by everything that happens from China to the USA to Africa.”
Farrugia said there has been a huge response to Malta Enterprise’s wage supplement scheme, which was launched this morning, with 2,262 business submitting applications on behalf of around 6,500 employees. Businesses are expected to start receiving funds to cover their employees’ wages by mid-April.
Malta Enterprise has published two annexes for impacted sectors, with employees falling in the first annex entitled to a monthly wage of €800 and those falling in the second annex entitled to a monthly wage of €160, rising up to €320 if they work in Gozo. The first annex is meant to incorporate businesses, such as those in the tourism and entertainment industries, who have been critically hit as a result of restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while the second annex incorporates businesses who have suffered a hit but not as critical.
The industries are listed according to the NACE categorisation system but Farrugia said the annexes are not set in stone and that businesses can apply under either annex if they feel they deserve to be included within it.
Malta Enterprise will then ask these businesses for proof that their operations have been hit or forced to shut down due to government intervention as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
All applications will then be analysed on a case-by-case basis.
Moreover, Farrugia said that the door is not shut on industries, such as real estate companies and legal firms, who don’t fall into either of the two annexes and that Malta Enterprise will continuously monitor the situation and provide constant feedback to government.
“Certain sectors who have been doing a lot of business in the past months and years should be resilient for a few weeks but if not, we’re here to listen and we’ll give feedback to government policy makers,” he said.
“The government has been upscaling the amount of assistance it’s giving and Malta Enterprise is giving feedback from the discussions we’re having. The first priority was to ensure employees are kept in employment if the businesses they work at have been shut down due to the COVID-19 situation. I’m sure that, as time progresses, such as with regards the situation for manufacturing companies, the government will open up more if it feels it is necessary to do so.”