Summer looking positive for businesses, ‘but uncertainty still looms’ – Chamber of SMEs

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With the way things are turning out and the strategy in place for Malta, summer is looking positive for small and medium sized businesses, CEO of the Malta Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Abigail Mamo told this newsroom. However a certain degree of uncertainty still looms.

Malta’s vaccination strategy is moving forward as planned, and currently those aged 40 and over are taking the vaccine. The government recently began relaxing restrictive measures that were in place, having already allowed non-essential shops to open and non-essential services to resume.

In June, the country is also set to open for tourism, with the target being of getting Malta placed on the green travel list for other countries, as it would be considered as a safe zone given the low number of active cases and high number of people vaccinated.  

“Things look to be in place for SMEs to start recovering in summer. But obviously, Covid-19 has brought with it a lot of uncertainty and unpredictability. What we can do, as we have done before, is look at other countries that are a few steps in front of us and see what is happening there,” Mamo said.  

She remarked that it is important to take a look at what is happening around the world, in order to learn from their experiences.

“Countries like the United Kingdom have started to relax measures, so it is important to see what the effect in these countries will be; it would give us an idea as to what we should expect in Malta. Hopefully, we will not repeat any mistakes other countries make, but rather learn from them,” she observed.  

Mamo noted that although the Chamber of SMEs agrees in principle with the slow easing of measures which is taking place, she expressed that she would have liked more consultation to have taken place with stakeholders.

“We agree, in principle, with the government’s strategy to relax measures step by step. What we want a bit more of is more consultation regarding how this relaxing of measures should happen. Up till now, there has not been enough consultation taking place with the social partners,” she said.

She also remarked that although “it is a bit too early to say how businesses are doing” in terms of sales since they were allowed to reopen, their attitude does seem to be encouraging.

“The attitude of small and medium enterprises is positive. You have to start from somewhere, and the first step is opening and commencing with daily business. That was an important step. Over the coming week we will follow up with them to see how they are performing.”

This will lead economic activity to start gearing up “step by step, while the restrictions are relaxed” she said, noting that it is important that the Covid-19 numbers are kept low so that businesses can remain open, rather than result in a start-stop way of operation.

“We do not agree with the tactic used in the past, where we allowed numbers to spike in an exaggerated manner, and we would then need to make difficult decisions. It is better if we stay cautious so that businesses can still operate at a certain level,” Mamo remarked.

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