SME chamber welcomes ‘mini-budget,’ but hopes for improved rental aid

Miguela Xuereb

The economic package announced by the government on Monday was positively received by the Malta Chamber of SMEs, though it did highlight that the rental aid announced was too low to achieve the desired effect.

In a statement, the chamber said that the package “will give a much-needed helping hand to enterprises and to our economy to reignite,” adding that its requests “have mostly ben met.”

The chamber’s president, Paul Abela, warned that Malta faced hard times ahead, and that the coming months were thus crucial as they would define its post-Covid economy.

“For many businesses these months have proven to be harder than when the Covid pandemic was at its peak in Malta and most businesses were closed. The moment businesses were given the go ahead to open, costs started piling up and income was close to none,” the chamber said.

Abela said that addressing rental costs, utility costs and costs on human resources was key for business survival, and the chamber was thus pleased to note that these were addressed. However, the chamber appealed for better rental aid, noting that most businesses had to continue paying rent throughout and that €2,500 would fall short of making a real difference.

Boosting domestic economy essential

The chamber emphasised that local business could only reliably rely on the domestic economy for the time being, and a boost was thus evidently necessary. It welcomed the €100 in vouchers that are to be given to every resident aged 16 and up, stating that they would create a ripple effect which would go beyond the actual investment.

It said that various measures implemented – together with a hoped-for fine tuning of rent subsidies – “would accumulate into the necessary help in terms of liquidity that businesses currently need to survive these current difficult months and enter a stage of recovery.”

Events and weddings sector in need of a plan

But the chamber also warned that a number of businesses were yet to reach a recovery stage, and as such needed to be helped not just with liquidity but also through a forward-looking plan they could work towards. It highlighted that the events and weddings sector needs months of planning, and a plan would be badly needed to help them reach a stage of recovery.

“Such a plan will not mean opening their doors to normal events in the immediate but fine-tuning their operation to a time when this will be possible. The planning of the health authorities should work in parallel with that of these private operators so that when the go ahead is given they can hit the ground running,” the chamber said.

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