The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented development which unexpectedly and severely impacted businesses across several industries. In view of the closures and mass hysteria surrounding this pandemic, the Maltese government had no choice but to step in and announce financial measures to help these businesses and safeguard jobs.
The main objective of the measures implemented by the government was to help the Maltese economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting businesses with liquidity, whilst also protecting the vulnerable.
One of the game changers which allowed businesses to survive during this hard-hit period was the wage supplement measure. For employees working within sectors which were mostly impacted by the pandemic, eight hundred Euro per month was given as salary subsidy for each full-time employee. In the case of part-timers, the subsidy was that of five hundred Euro per month.
Amongst these hard-hit sectors, one finds businesses operating in wholesale, retail, accommodation, food and beverage service activities, vehicle rentals and leasing, employment activities, tour operators, travel agencies and other related enterprises, security and investigation services, services to buildings, transport companies, creative arts, entertainment activities and personal services like barbers, beauticians and hairdressers. These businesses were amongst the hardest hit due to the forced closure.
Those businesses that were constrained to lay off their employees were eligible for this subsidy if they re-appointed them. This measure was approved by the European Commission in late April.
This scheme was extended until the end of October 2020. For those businesses which still were the hardest hit, the subsidies remained the same, however businesses which could then operate as the country re-opened faced reductions.
The government is also subsidising employers with a three hundred and fifty Euro grant for each employee who needs to stay on mandatory quarantine.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, the Maltese tourism industry has been battered and recovery will take years. During this turbulent time, the government allowed the construction industry to continue on. The construction industry is one of the pillars of the Maltese economy and keeping related companies and the associated professionals in operation has allowed the country to absorb the impact better.
The government has also reduced property transfer taxes to stimulate the sector. These tax incentives are applicable until March 2021 and seem to serve as a short-term stimulant for economic growth during a turbulent time. In this regard, it has been recently reported that July was the best month in years for the property sector.
What are your views in terms of the government measures aimed at supporting businesses? Let us know in the comments section below.