All workers, self-employed or otherwise, in industries, brought to a grinding halt by COVID-19 closures and bans will be guaranteed at least €1,200 every month through a state and private industry agreement, Prime Minister Robert Abela has announced.
Other industries affected by the slowdown will also be entitled to some benefits, taking one-fifth of an €800 benefit. Self employed persons will take home €800 per month.
The total package including both closed and other affected industries is expected to cost the state around €65 to €70 million a month. The package will be based on three months, starting from April. This does not mean that the package will stop beyond then, with the economic downturn expected to last till at least December.
Abela explained that for the sectors worst hit by closures to combat a COVID-19 outbreak, the government would give the full €800 benefit to each worker. Meanwhile, following a unanimous agreement by the MCESD, private industries will be required to pay at least a further €400 to bring the income up to €1,200.
Think of it as a basic income across the sector.
The measures only apply to those who will remain employed. Those made redundant will have to apply for the unemployment benefit under the previously announced measures.
This latest package does not entirely replace previous ones introduced by the government, with tax deferrals and bank guarantees still in place. The package will not cover rental and other major expenses.
Those employers who are simply unable to meet that €400 mark will be required to ask for special permission from the Department for Industrial and Employee Relations to do so.
The package for closed down industries accounts for around 60,000 workers and will cost the government around €44 million every month. Full-timers will be entitled to the full €800 from the government, while part-timers will be given €500.
The industries that fall under this bracket are: wholesalers, retail, accommodation, restaurants, bars, employment activities, travel agents, transport, entertainment, arts, beauty, and outsourced industries like security and cleaning.
Government experts have warned of an incoming global recession which will have major effects on the local economy. The Tourism industry, they believe, will not recover before Christmas with flights expected to be closed down for a while.
Other sectors affected by the economic downturn but which have not been brought to a complete halt and which will soon feel the effects of a global recession will be paid a one day a week of the €800 benefit.
Workers in Gozo will be entitled to a two-day benefit to account for differing sizes of the economy of the islands.
That means every month employers will receive €160 per employee in Malta and €320 per employee in Gozo.
Self-employed people in this sector will be entitled to two days of the benefit, and their employees will get a one day benefit.
The measure will cover 50,000 workers and will cost the government around €17 million a month.
The industries that fall under this bracket are: manufacturing, parts of wholesale, parts of retail, warehousing, and the information sector.
Around 94,000 workers who work either as professionals, in construction, or in IT industries like gaming will not receive any benefits. The government says their industries are yet to be affected in a significant way.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Malta has seen the government roll out necessary but drastic measures to combat its spread.
Flights are closed, as are non-essential shops, non-essential services, bars, restaurants, gyms, among others. Most businesses are closed for the time being, with the entire economy facing a significant downturn.
Redundancies have already started and are predicted to continue.
The measures are aimed to address these concerns. The government repeatedly said that these measures were the first ahead of others over the next few months.
Abela also stressed that the government could not blow its huge reserves just yet, explaining that if the situation worsened within three months, the government would need to have its entire war chest at its disposal.