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WATCH: Economy Minister Denies Discriminating Among Maltese Businesses: ‘We Need To Treat The Most Wounded First’

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Economy Minister Silvio Schembri has denied that the government’s new stimulus package discriminates among businesses, stating the strategy is to immediately rescue the most impacted companies and analyse the situation for the rest of the field at a later stage. 

“I understand that some people are afraid because they feel this package doesn’t impact them but it could be that they will feel impacted in two months’ time,” Schembri said. “The situation is so fluid and we’re not going to announce everything in one day.”

The Economy Minister was a guest on #CovidCalls, a new Lovin Malta talk show which will provide insights into the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

He said the stimulus package which was launched by the Prime Minister yesterday has made him more convinced than ever that the country will overcome the current crisis.

“The amount of encouragement we received from employers and employees alike about the concept of burden sharing really makes me proud,” he said.

Schembri said that while he cannot guarantee that no jobs will be lost, the measures will safeguard as many jobs as possible in sectors such as the tourism industry which were forced to stop operating overnight.

“As soon as we emerge from this situation, we want to embark on a programme of economic growth so that those who end up unemployed will be able to return to work,” he said. “In 2013, we inherited a country that was in a very poor economic state, that had a very high unemployment rate and where businesses weren’t investing. We stimulated the economy within a few months and reached a stage of practically zero unemployment.”

“This is a huge challenge but we’re facing it from a position of strength. People who lose their jobs will get paid €800 a month and once we emerge from this crisis, we’ll immediately embark on a programme to create new opportunities.”

Describing the state of play as a battleground, Schembri said that the government wants to treat the most wounded people first but intends to treat all injuries eventually.

“We must keep analysing the situation as it develops and, if necessary, intervene on a case by case basis,” he said. “For example, in the manufacturing industry, some factories have continued operating normally, some have actually increased their productivity and others were impacted, so a one-size-fits-all policy won’t work here.”

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