COVID-19: Worst-hit businesses to receive full wage subsidy up to end of year

Government wage subsidy scheme to be extended to the end of the year in the case of companies and businesses worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures introduced to mitigate its effects

Miriam Dalli, minister for enterprise and sustainable development
Miriam Dalli, minister for enterprise and sustainable development

Those business hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures introduced to mitigate its effects will continue to benefit from the government’s wage subsidy scheme up to the end of the year, the minister for enterprise and sustainable development announced today.

Miriam Dalli, in a press conference addressed also by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana, said that these businesses would benefit from the full benefit of €800 per employee, with eligibility based on the business’s loss in turnover during the pandemic.

Following a spike in the number of daily cases registered, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced last week that the wage subsidy scheme, in its current reiteration, was being extended to the end of June and that the hardest hit companies will receive the full subsidy applicable.

Following today’s announcement, those companies will continue to receive the benefit up to the end of the year. Employees engaged after March 2020 would also be covered under this scheme.

“In the meantime, we will be announcing in the next few weeks new measures and initiatives aimed at reducing the dependancy of such business on the wage supplement,” Dalli said.

She said the government would continue working closely with all stakeholders to ensure companies continue to receive assistance as necessary and to safeguard jobs.

“From this month, 850 companies and 870 self-employed are receiving assistance to meet their rents, in a scheme totalling €12 million,” Dalli said. “These businesses provide between them 14,000 jobs in Malta and 900 in Gozo.”

Finance minister Clyde Caruana
Finance minister Clyde Caruana

A further €1.4 million would be disbursed in the coming days to assist companies which presented viable expansion and regeneration plans to Malta Enterprise under its MicroInvest scheme.

Caruana said that the government spent around €360 million on the wage supplement in 2020, nearly 3% of the country’s gross domestic product, which had fallen by around 7% last year. A further €200 million are to be spent on the measure in the coming nine months.

And the pandemic had cost around 5,000 employees their jobs. “Of those, however, only around 400 have not yet found a new job and are registering for unemployment,” he said.

On moratoria offered to businesses, Caruana said discussions were underway between the Malta Development Bank and commercial banks as to how to provide further financial aid to companies.

“In the meantime, most banks have taken it upon themselves to extend loan repayments to companies in need, even beyond the limits of the moratarium,” he said.