The financial plans announced this evening will give a much needed helping hand to enterprises and to our economy to reignite. As a Chamber of SMEs our requests have mostly been met whereby businesses will be helped preserve their current situation through support in their running costs and local consumption will be incentivised to boost consumer confidence.
Malta Chamber of SMEs President Mr Paul Abela said hard times are ahead for Malta and the current months are crucial because they will define our economy post Covid. For many businesses these months have proven to be harder than when the Covid pandemic was at its peak in Malta and most businesses were closed. The moment businesses were given the go ahead to open, costs started piling up and income was close to none. Paul Abela said that addressing rental costs, utility costs and costs on human resources is key for business survival and we are pleased to note that the Covid Budget has addressed these in agreement with the proposals we presented.
On a negative note, whilst we appreciate the step in the right direction the rental aid is still deemed as too low. Most businesses have continued paying rents throughout and a €2,500 to cover the rental burden during the pandemic still falls short of the desired impact. More efforts will be necessary in this regard if we want this measure to make a real difference.
Consumers’ spending confidence is another top priority that has also been addressed. The domestic economy is all that we can rely on with reassurance for now and a boost is evidently necessary to address the current uncertainties holding consumers back. Incentives to encourage local spending was another important proposal from the SME Chambers’ side and this has also been taken up through vouchers that will generate economic stimulus, which ripple effects will go beyond this actual investment itself.
Having said this, tourism is still a clear priority which is essential for a more stable economic recovery. The budgets allocated to tourism are an achievement the SME Chamber has been contributing towards since the start of the pandemic. The Malta Chamber of SMEs is also pleased to note that more of its proposals than have already been mentioned, have also been taken up. Amongst the proposals accepted are those of sustaining local produce and local businesses to strengthen Malta’s selfsufficiency, incentivising new economic niches to diversify our economy, the conversion of part of the Micro Invest Tax Credit into a grant, further fine-tuning of the Malta Development Bank Guarantee Scheme to facilitate access to finance and the waiver of license fees.
The Malta Chamber of SMEs believes these measures, together with the further fine tuning of the rent subsidy scheme, will accumulate into the necessary help in terms of liquidity that businesses currently need to survive these current difficult months and enter a stage of recovery.
Some businesses are however still not in recovery stage and these businesses need to be helped not just with their liquidity but also by being able to rely on a forward-looking plan that they can work towards. The events and wedding sector is a sector that needs months of planning and this plan is badly needed for them to also enter recovery stage. Such a plan will not mean opening their doors to normal events in the immediate but fine-tuning their operation to a time when this will be possible. The planning of the health authorities should work in parallel with that of these private operators so that when the go ahead is given they can hit the ground running.