Economy Minister Silvio Schembri has promised to launch new measures aimed at safeguarding jobs by the end of the week but has warned businesses that the government has no intention of splashing its savings recklessly.
“Many businesses have understood that public health must be prioritised over business and money and I thank them for this,” Schembri said. “We know business has suffered, we know that shops are empty and aren’t selling anything.”
“I’m speaking to many people in business and I have my fingers on your pulse. Last week, we assessed the economic situation and, along with experts, prepared an action plan. This isn’t a time for panic but a time for decision makers to be focused so they can take the best decisions possible.”
“I understand that everyone is feeling the pressure but people shouldn’t take decisions based off what they see on Facebook. We’ve taken measures to help businesses but our priority is to safeguard jobs.”
“Workers did their bit when the economy was doing very well, they worked so their company can grow and them along with it. Now it’s the duty of employers and the government to ensure workers don’t suffer.”
The government has so far introduced a two-month tax moratorium for business who have been most impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis and a refund scheme for businesses which invest in teleworking systems.
Schembri said that more measures will be announced by the end of the week, which will include direct aid to businesses and self-employed people.
However, he said the government has no intention of using all the estimated €600 million that it has saved through money generated from the Individual Investment Programme.
“It would be very immature to spend all that money at once,” he said. “We must all shoulder part of the challenge. We cannot expect businesses to keep all their profits when things were going well and now fire their workers or expect taxpayers to completely make good for them.”
“Just because we have a surplus, it doesn’t mean we should splash out money recklessly, but we will help businesses overcome this situation. We were there to recover the economy and we’ll be here to safeguard jobs.”
“The government didn’t increase taxes when the economy was doing well and I now expect businesses to show solidarity with their workers.”
Schembri urged workers to accept more flexible working arrangements and businesses to use this time wisely to upgrade their infrastructure and systems and train their staff so they will be in a better position when the economy recovers.
“Now if the time invest on things you sidelined when the economy was doing very well,” he said. “Some businesses have already done that and have bills to pay; we’ll help you out but let’s not panic cloud our judgement.”
“It will take some time but there will be measures in place to help you out, launched according to a strategic plan and not according to panic after a mere 11 days since Malta confirmed its first COVID-19 case.”