Malta’s marketing, media and creative industries have reached out to Prime Minister Robert Abela to provide much-needed relief ahead of an economic downturn caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“We play our small part here by momentarily shining a light on our world, that deals with creating and communicating messages for businesses and government alike to all the nation.”
“The fragility of our businesses is something we are used too, the butterfly effect arising from the slightest threat to our clients’ confidence has an immense impact on our survival.”
“Ours is an industry with players that will not be dented or crippled by this, but that will simply fade away into the night, here today gone tomorrow, without so much as a whimper,” they said in a statement, co-signed by Lovin Malta.
Economic concerns have only grown ever since Malta effectively closed its borders through the mandatory quarantine with businesses across the entire spectrum growing fearful.
Measures introduced by the government have done little to alleviate worry, with the business leaders and unions feeling they do not go far enough. The Chamber of SMEs even warned that if measures fail to improve, workers could be out of a job within two months.
The signatories of the letter range from newspapers, market agencies, media companies, and other creative agencies.
“Ours is a world that is ironically itself unseen. Like the hired stagehand shining a light on the set, the brighter the light, the deeper the darkness behind it.”
“Brand managers, marketing consultants, media platforms, news providers, artists, designers, sign-writers, videographers, film studios, public relations advisors; our extended business ecosystem is a rich and varied one that is in the business of building messages that matter to grow and sustain business,” the media houses said.
In a list of measures, which they said should also apply across all service sectors, the media houses called for:
• Direct assistance of at least 50% of the payroll incurred by the companies for the months of April and May 2020 following which a reassessment will be made for a possible automatic extension.
• Government subsidy on bank interest for any business facility used to maintain ongoing business.
• A direct subsidy to go against current rental expenses.
• A temporary adjustment to employees’ tax rates.
• Quarantine leave to be carried by the Government.
• A temporary six-month suspension or downward revision on VAT.
• Confirmation that the recently announced deferral of fiscal payments and any subsequent measure in this regard will also include our sector or indeed all the service sector.
• Deferral of any fiscal payments will not incur interest and/or penalties.
There have been 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Malta, with two recoveries so far. The first three locally transmitted cases have also been confirmed, raising concerns as to whether a major outbreak could erupt in the densely populated Malta.
You can read the open letter here.