[WATCH] Coronavirus: Robert Abela appeals for businesses to be responsible

Economic burden of coronavirus must be shared but government will do its part, Prime Minister tells Chamber of Commerce

Economy minister Silvio Schembri  (left) and Prime Minister Robert Abela (right)
Economy minister Silvio Schembri (left) and Prime Minister Robert Abela (right)

Robert Abela has urged businesses not to capitalise on the current situation as he urged operators to exercise responsibility during a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce.

The Prime Minister said government will assist businesses in the extraordinary circumstances the country and the world find themselves in.

“If there is a burden to be borne, the government must be the first to do so but everyone must do their part,” Abela said.

He was speaking at a meeting with a delegation from the Chamber of Commerce led by president David Xuereb.

The Chamber presented the Prime Minister with a document outlining the oragnisation’s economic vision for the next five years.

Xuereb said the time was ripe for planning and becoming stronger. 
Xuereb told MaltaToday that the Chamber would have to wait and see what the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic would be, but that it was planning Malta’s recovery. Measures both short and long-term were discussed, he said after the meeting.

“The only thing we can do right now is to see what is being done in other countries and try to assimilate them into Malta… We are being proactive and creative by using this time to prepare for what comes after,” Xuereb said.

Abela praised the Chamber for what he called its responsible behaviour, whilst sending the message to commercial bodies that the government will be there for them.

Abela said the crisis has hit after five good years. “A bad few weeks must be taken into the context of five bountiful years,” he added.

The Chamber also expressed its disappointment on the manner in which the Government introduced a Legal Notice over the weekend, requiring businesses to pay quarantine leave from their pockets, without any consultation with the relevant bodies such as the MCESD or the ERB.

“Within the context of the current situation, The Malta Chamber is choosing to be constructive in its criticism and has prepared a document, listing the key recommendations needed by businesses at this time” said Xuereb.

The recommendations to help businesses in the immediate term, made by the Chamber include:

  • A scheme to subsidise part of employees’ and self-employed salaries;
  • Government to finance all obligatory quarantine leave;
  • Introduction of medical, financial and technical support for essential operations including production, agriculture, shipping and logistics, that must be retained and maintained in all cases.
  • Any late payments outside credit terms owed to private enterprises involved in public procurement contracts should be paid without any further delay.