Watch: Safeguard employees – PN proposes set up of special fund

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Partit Nazzjonalista has urged the government to safeguard employees and their jobs, proposing the set up of a special fund to be used by businesses only if they ensure that no one would be fired.

During a press conference addressed by Opposition Leader Adrian Delia, as well as Mario de Marco, Claudio Grech and Kristy Debono, Partit Nazzjonalista put forward a set of proposals aimed at safeguarding jobs, warning that mass layoffs would lead to a financial and economic crisis, with wider ramifications on society.

Earlier on Tuesday Superintendent of Public Health Professor Charmaine Gauci held a press conference in which she informed the public that eight individuals have tested positive to coronavirus. Among the newly confirmed cases is a 3-year-old boy.

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia maintained that the government cannot remain reactive but should be proactive. He highlighted the importance of safeguarding employment to prevent from having a wider negative impact on families living on their monthly paycheck. Delia explained that employers should be given incentives and assistance to prevent mass layoffs. Businesses have generated the wealth in this country, the whole society will be negatively impacted if they are left to take the brunt alone in the current situation.

Delia argued that a holistic approach was required – where one would understand the weakness and the strengths and see how we can use our resources better. Delia called on the government to pay quarantine leave, adding that quarantine helps curb the spread of coronavirus.

The Opposition called on the government to subsidise 50% of the salaries. He warned that if people are laid off, the government would still fork out unemployment benefits. Delia explained that if the government subsidizes 50% of the salaries, the businesses can plan better and safeguard their employment.

Delia said that the government should enter into talks with the banks to postpone payments of loans. Further a new lending package should be designed with the government as guarantee.

He urged the government to accept the Opposition’s help. ‘We’re in a national emergency, and we should work together – irrespective of whether it is government, opposition, businesses, employers or employees,’ Delia said.

“Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures,” MP Mario de Marco said. He explained that as of tomorrow bars and restaurants will have ‘zero revenue’. He urged the government to take immediate action noting that the Opposition has proposed various methods on what type of action the government can take in such circumstances.

Referring to projections made earlier by the government for its financial year, de Marco proposed that the government should set up a special fund to help the companies pay salaries. He underlined that anyone benefiting from this fund should ensure that their employees remain in employment without anyone losing their job.

De Marco noted that businesses operating in tourism and retail which employ some 60,000 individuals stand at risk.

“The government should ensure that no one loses their job. We need to prevent a health crisis from becoming a financial and economic one,” he said.

MP Claudio Grech said that such a fund would not be used as a bail out or an award, he explained that the sole intention was to prevent employees from getting fired.