Chamber of Commerce calls for new voucher scheme, better enforcement in budget proposals

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The Chamber of Commerce has released its proposals for the upcoming annual budget which it believes will shape the future of Malta as this is a budget like no other due to the situation we faced during this year.

The Chamber has formulated a document ‘A Smart Sustainable Land Driving the Wealth and Wellness of Society’ in which it outlines around 130 proposals for the upcoming budget based on three main principles; recover, recall and reinvest.

“This is the most important budget which is intended to form how Malta will look like in the future, there is no better situation than the one we have today to know what is best for Malta. This is a budget that will not only affect our present but forge our future,” said Chamber President David Xuereb.

He explained that this vision will not only be based on, but also the ability to safeguard people’s physical and mental health as well as setting the highest of government standards.

Chamber CEO Edward Chetcuti said that through its document, the Chamber is making eleven calls for action for the government which were accumulated through numerous consultations with stakeholders, academics and researchers.

The calls are as follows;

  • 1. Clear economic vision; coupled with specific vision for key sectors
  • 2. Good governance; and peace of mind for the economy and the country at large
  • 3. Government assistance; to stimulate and sustain the recovery beyond this pandemic
  • 4. Sustainability towards our strategic objectives for the next decade and beyond
  • 5. Infrastructure; better connectivity, easy and fast mobility, the cleanliness of public spaces
  • 6. Better regulation and enforcement; across all sectors to further strengthen good governance more tangibly
  • 7. Digitalisation and innovation; as the only way forward to recover proactively from the crisis.
  • 8. Become data driven to drive the economy into more innovative products and services.
  • 9. Develop human capital to be effective and productive while safeguarding health and wellbeing.
  • 10. Reform and Align education to match the needs of our businesses of the future
  • 11. Promote and communicate effectively to truly drive the economy towards a smart sustainable island.

Each of these calls for action have tangible paths in this document to achieve them.

Some of the short-term impact business survival measures outlined during today’s press conference by Deputy President Mariza Xuereb include a Domestic Demand Stimulus by re-issuing the voucher scheme to local residents which was a great immediate injection into Malta’s economy.

There is also need for liquidity measures, like the extension of tax deferment, allowing carry-back of 2020 losses and incentivising businesses to honour trade credit terms as there are some businesses which seem to be hoarding money. Overhead cost reduction measures are also being recommended by increasing rent assistance to commercial tenants, reducing utility and fuel costs and optimising testing and quarantine leave. Xuereb also mentioned labour market measures which safeguard employment by ensuring an efficient labour market including the maintained of the wage subsidy scheme, “but, and it’s a big but, this needs to be linked to business re-engineering and re/up-skilling of workforce.”

The Chamber also formulated long-term impact measures to furture-proof Malta. Among others, Head of Policy Development Andre Fenech mentioned the need for business re-engineering support though schemes as well as keeping education at the forefront by keeping schools open with the new norm and provide support to schools, students and parent.

“This is not a selfish point of view, it is not just about the economy needing schools to remain open, students might keep on missing active participation in their academic life if they are not physically present. Assisting schools with the purchasing of equipment both technological and medical is necessary,” Fenech explained.

Other long-term measures include the prioritization of the environment and infrastructure as work needs to start immediately in order to achieve a Zero Carbon Economy by 2050, including reduction in traffic congestion and increase in road safety. Last but certainly not least, the government has to focus on rebuilding and safeguarding Malta’s reputation as Malta is we are dependent on international relations.