[WATCH] €100 vouchers are ‘intravenous injection’ for the economy, Scicluna says

Scicluna and Fearne say recovery plan injects confidence and cash into the economy

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
€100 vouchers are ‘intravenous injection’ for the economy, Scicluna says

Edward Scicluna has described the €100 vouchers as an “intravenous injection” for the economy as government’s recovery plan tries to stimulate consumption.

The Finance Minister said on Tuesday that stimulating consumption was one way of helping the economy recover after the partial lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was speaking at a press conference in Castille, flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, the day after government unveiled a recovery plan worth €900 million.

The plan includes €34 million in vouchers that will be distributed to every individual aged 16 and over for spending in restaurants, bars, hotels and retail shops that were forced shut.

But it also includes a raft of other incentives for businesses, including subsidies on rental payments and electricity bills.

“Government’s wish is that of having the economy recover to its former growth, and this can be achieved in the long-term,” Scicluna said. 

He said that while the retail sector is now open, people are still cautious and taking a step back from returning to their normal purchasing patterns. 

“That is why the government will be diving head first into restoring people’s confidence so that the economy can start turning again,” Scicluna said.

Asked about the Chamber of SMEs’ statement that welcomed the package but deemed the rental subsidy for businesses as being too low, Scicluna said that while government did its utmost to help people and businesses, there was still a limit. 

“I think we are targeting everyone, we have to ensure that we don’t end up with debt that we cannot handle. We don’t want to leave behind us a situation which is not manageable,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Fearne said that the regeneration plan intertwines the health of the community with that of the economy. 

He added that the government can discuss a way forward because of its decision not to go for a complete lockdown during the pandemic.

With the infection transmission rate standing at 0.6, Fearne said it was important that establishments continued to respect social distancing measures to ensure safety.

“We have introduced measures to minimise risk that are also a burden for businesses but we are telling them that government is here to shoulder part of that burden through rental and electricity subsidies, and encouraging people to spend money,” Fearne said.

Asked whether the country was in a better position to handle a second wave of COVID-19 infections, Fearne said government had all the necessary measures in place, such as the availably of ITU beds, an early warning system and protective clothing. 

He also said government will be insisting that more people take the seasonal influenza vaccine come October.

“We want to double the number of vaccinated individuals,” he said.

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