“Make teleworking permanent” – Chamber of Commerce

Miguela Xuereb

The Malta Chamber of Commerce has proposed that teleworking be made permanent, putting forward three categories; eworkers who would work exclusively from home, telecommuters who would sometimes work from office and mobile workers who would work on the move.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce has presented a document containing over 30 proposals to the government detailing the possible way forward out of the economic crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The document which was prepared by the 130-strong Chamber think tank, was presented to the public during a press conference on Thursday morning. The aim of the think tank was to imagine what the future would look like in a new socio-economic scenario amid the global pandemic.

The Chamber’s president Perit David Xuereb highlighted that the teleworking is part of the new normal. He remarked that the job starting process would require the whole country and its business leaders to think outside the box in order to develop new innovative solutions and to become resilient in the new scenario.

Perit Xuereb asked that while in the recent past, efforts were made to retain jobs, the time has come to accept that this new normal will be with us for a while perhaps more than a year. This would mean that one not only has to learn how to survive in the current climate but also adapt successfully amid the coronavirus pandemic. This will also require that public funds are distributed in a strategic manner while robust industries are given the necessary incentives. The President of the Chamber noted that this was about the future viability and resilience of the country, and required the ability to motivate the business enterprise in a manner which would see businesses readjusting their models to the new socio-economic environment.

Asked by Newsbook.com.mt why the Chamber of Commerce was in favour of the reopening of businesses which had been shut down shortly after the outbreak and which is being perceived as too “early” after fears have mounted that Malta might be in its second wave of the virus, Perit Xuereb said that in no way was the Chamber in favour of reopening at all costs.

“We are realizing that coronavirus is going to be with us and we have to find ways and means to function but in respect what the coronavirus has brought about,” he said, noting that telworking works after businesses and entities were forced to adapt to the new reality.

“This is really a trying time for all of us. Whilst we talk of waves, waves will happen because the virus is with us.”

Perit Xuereb remarked that the virus will remain with us until a vaccine is found and herd immunity is achieved. “We will not have herd immunity until we have the vaccine which at best may take one year or even longer,” he claimed.

The president maintained that a balance is needed restarting the economy and learning to live with the virus. He explained that it was paramount that senior citizens and individuals deemed vulnerable are protected and that the public remains disciplined and informed. However, normality will only return once the vaccine is developed.

During the presentation, President Xuereb said that the proposals were based on mobilizing the labour force, jump starting the economy which has “flat”, the need to shift the mindset and finding ways and means on how to stimulate innovation. “We need to realize and accept the new norm and that change needs to happen. There is opportunity in change,” he said, adding that the government funds could be used to restructure the economy and the businesses.