A prolonged strike by workers at the VAT Department has left small business owners with fresh funding frustrations.
“I sorted out my finances on the basis that my VAT refund was coming up,” a business owner told Lovin Malta. “However, the VAT Department repeatedly ignored my calls and it was only when I contacted the Business First offices that I realised they were on strike.”
VAT Department workers have been striking since 5th November as part of an attempt by the Union Ħaddiema Maghqudin to obtain a better sectoral agreement for workers there. As per the strike, VAT Department workers have been ordered not to answer their phones, emails, hold meetings with the public or process bills or VAT adjustment forms.
While the General Retailers’ and Traders Union (GRTU) has yet to receive complaints from its members, the strike is starting to take its toll on some businesses.
“Obtaining a VAT refund was crucial to me,” the business owner said. “It’s become ridiculously hard to get a bank loan, with banks asking for so much paperwork that you need to hire an auditor, which in itself will take up half of the loan. The final straw is that we cannot even get VAT refunds because their workers are on strike. This is the reality of small businesses in Malta, we’re going backwards.”