Businesses doing worse than when closed, Chamber of SMEs says

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Businesses are doing worse than when they were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Chamber of SMEs said in a statement on Saturday.

The Chamber of SMEs noted that despite months have now passed and that the situation does not seem to improve.

Some restrictive coronavirus measures were lifted in May, with bars and restaurants were allowed to open subjected to a number of conditions.

Despite the easing of measures, small and medium enterprises found themselves in a worse situation than they were before since their business was either slow or non-existent while the costs kept mounting, threatening their existence.

The Chamber of SMEs stressed that more financial aid was necessary to keep SMEs afloat, noting that the European Union was giving a carte-blanche to help businesses. The EU has adopted an aggressive stance and s giving out grants to Member States and asking them to rescue businesses.

The Chamber of SMEs said that unfortunately it received no information as to why such direct EU funds were not being used to help businesses.

“Employees are being made and will continue to be made redundant as the economy is stagnant and businesses perish. This damage will take many years and hard work to recuperate. More must be done to rescue and preserve businesses in this delicate phase,” the Chamber said, adding that it has been waiting for weeks for a scheme that would address the issue of commercial leases. The Chamber noted that other countries had recognised the importance of addressing the commercial rents issue.

Rent remains one of the major concerns for business owners. The Chamber of SMEs had proposed a rent subsidy scheme earlier this month based on the principle of burden sharing. The scheme proposed is very similar ensures that rents adapt to current market realities while also adopting a system of burden sharing between the landlord, the government and the tenant. Such a scheme can be implemented, as non-repayable grants, under the recent state-aid rule possibilities, the Chamber further explained.

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