Malta Chamber finds an ambivalent response to the government aid package

A Survey carried out by the Malta Chamber obtained an almost 50-50 response to the efficacy of the economic aid packages announced so far by the government.  The Chamber conducted the survey exclusively among its members earlier this week with a view to obtaining first-hand information on their needs and opinions in an effort to be in a better position to make the necessary representations in their favour with the authorities.

When asked how the respondents felt on the measures announced so far by the government, 48% felt that these were adequate or partially adequate while 52% considered them as inadequate or completely inadequate. To reinforce this, 81% of respondents felt that these measures would not be altering their bleak projections.

Employment: Part-Timers to receive the biggest blow

The questions on employment were most telling. 32% envisaged a decrease in employment if the effects of COVID-19 last for 3 months. This rises exponentially to 78% if the effects last for 6 months. In this longer time span on 20% feel that their full-time staffing levels would remain constant. With regards to part-timers, 52% of respondents were chopping off this sector in the short term and 66% in the longer term.  The statement by the Malta Chamber said that compared to a previous survey conducted on 20-23 March, the forecasts for redundancies as extrapolated on a national level appear to have attenuated by almost one half.

Positive impact?

In fact, the latest forecast now stands at around 23,000 workers as compared to 45,000, two weeks ago. “This outcome would seem to indicate that the measures put in place so far have had a positive impact on businesses, especially those operating in the hospitality sector, restaurants and non-essential retail segments although it also clearly indicates that more support is needed for other segments” evaluated the Malta Chamber.

Fresh proposals

The largest number of redundancies are forecast in the Wholesale and Retail Trade followed by Manufacturing, Education, Construction and Real Estate, Accommodation and Food Service, Transport and Logistics, Professional Services, and Other Services. “This is why the Chamber has made fresh proposals for support to be provided to all businesses irrespective of the economic sector they operate in. The Chamber has maintained that any support given should be based on the loss of turnover they are currently experiencing when compared to the corresponding period last year” observed the statement.

Imprudent assumptions

There is reason to believe, warned the Malta Chamber, that the reported decline in redundancy expectations may be influenced by an imprudent assumption that business will return back to normality before summer. The Chamber said that it is duty-bound to inform its members that this will most likely not be the case and that they should plan appropriately for a long period of economic closure by reaching out for the support available. The Malta Chamber added that they should also be innovative in adapting their businesses to ensure relevance during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sales whacked

The projected effect on sales both locally and for export was dramatic. Almost half the respondents were projecting a 50% negative impact on local sales in the shorter term and 60% hit in the longer term. Where exports are concerned about 50% are projecting an impact of up to 20% both on the longer and the shorter-term effect. 20% are projecting that three-quarters of their exports will be hit if the effect lasts for 3 months. If it last longer, 31% of respondents will be badly hit.