COVID-19 wage subsidy extended, but MHRA wants €800 support till March 2021

Robert Abela says Malta wage subsidy and voucher validity extended until end of October, but MHRA wants €800 support to list till March 2021

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela has confirmed that the wage supplement and voucher schemes will be extended until the end of October.

Abela made the announcement this morning when addressing members of the Chamber of Commerce in Valletta.

The COVID-19 wage supplement scheme will run in its current form until the end of October, while the government-issued vouchers will remain valid until the end of October, he said.

Abela explained that more details on the governmnt’s long-term COVID-19 economic strategy will be announced during the 2021 budget to take place in October. He said this will include revisions to existing schemes and more measures to support businesses and households.

“COVID-19 should not be a pretext for austerity measures,” he explained, saying that newer measures will be put in place to boost the standard of living, especially targetting pensioners and those on lower incomes.

Abela explained that the final decision on the reopening of schools will be taken in accordance with “the scientific advice that our health authorities will give us.”

On the topic of Moneyval, Abela said a lot of hard work is being done behind the scenes, with progress being made thanks to targeted efforts to achieve specific goals.

Rule of law and Malta’s COVID-19 recovery strategy were among the salient points brought up by Chamber President David Xuereb.

Xuereb noted that, while key improvements have been made in areas of good governance, Malta’s reputation in the global arena has left some companies struggling to expand in international markets.

He went on to explain how economic growth and quality of life should go hand in hand, bolstered by meaningful education and the adoption of better technology.

Malta’s strategy on reopening schools this month was also brought up by Xuereb, hoping that education can carry on normally once protocols have been agreed to.

MHRA wants wage subsidies to last into 2021

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association has called for the government’s COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme to be extended further until March 2021 for hotels and restaurants, with new recruits to be made eligible for the €800 monthly wage subsidy.

MHRA president Tony Zahra said many hotels and restaurants will have to make vital business decisions in the coming months, and any “piecemeal support initiatives” might be more harmful to the sector if the government fails to provide a clear direction over the medium-term.

“Any form of government support needs to be substantial and based on a medium-term basis given that at a global level, business across the travel, hospitality and tourism sector will undoubtedly drop substantially over the coming seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Zahra said.

The association is making three key proposals for the government to take in in aiding the tourism sector: these include the extension of wage subsidies for hotels and restaurants up to March 2021, increasing the wage subsidy to restaurant employees to €800, and ensuring that new recruits are eligible for the wage subsidy.

“These are challenging times and MHRA pledges to keep working together with the authorities to ensure that the tourism, hospitality, and travel sector remains an important element in the Maltese economy,” Zahra said.