SMEs Chamber discusses rent proposals ahead of next week’s COVID Budget

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Malta Chamber of SMEs President Paul Abela and CEO Abigail Mamo this morning met Hon Minister Ian Borg, the Hon Parliamentary Secretary Chris Agius and the Lands Authority Chairman Lino Farrugia Sacco and CEO James Piscopo to discuss important matters related to the immediate support businesses need with regards to rent.

Piling rental costs represents one of the main concerns that businesses are experiencing in this precarious time of Covid. Preserving businesses’ current condition and not let it deteriorate further until the economy starts improving is where urgent government support is necessary. Expenses accumulating during this time will take very long to recuperate making the recovery of businesses longer and more difficult.

SME Chamber President Paul Abela said that ‘as an SME Chamber we expect the Government to recognise the responsibility it has towards saving business and should lead by example. The Lands Authority should be giving aggressive discounts at the moment that would see the tenant paying only a share of what is due for the time being’.

We have to collectively realise that business is down across the board, with some sectors reporting figures of just 10% turnover compared to the norm. The same expectation goes for the Malta Industrial Parks that should also be leading by example.

This will give out a very important message on what changes are needed in rents including the private sector. Specific schemes should be made available for landlords to encourage a burden sharing approach where the landlord forfeits part of his/her revenue and the government subsidises another part, leaving the tenant with his/her share to pay. As an SME Chamber we are hopeful that next week’s budget will not leave this matter unaddressed.

During the meeting discussions also focused on extending current rental schemes to open opportunities to businesses in government owned property wishing to consolidate their position and invest in their establishment. It was agreed that a joint study would be undertaken to ensure a tailored approach given the current sensitive scenario that will lead to a nation-wide scheme for businesses.

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