PN seeks Brussels clearance for €40 million state fund to help importers

Nationalist Party says Malta suffering from post-COVID increase in logistics and transport costs need €40 million to regain competitiveness

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi (left)
Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi (left)

The Nationalist Party is spearheading an effort to petition the European Commission in approving a state aid fund of €40 million for Maltese businesses and SMEs whose logistics costs increased drastically over the course of the pandemic.

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi said transportation costs and logistics had climbed 500% for Maltese businesses whose importation of a container from China now costs €11,000.

“This is the most radical and bold measure that any government has ever introduced in favour of the manufacturing industry,” said Azzopardi.

Azzopardi said factories in Malta will pay double their transportation costs compared to European counterparts, a factor that is affecting the island’s attractiveness as a base for manufacturing.

The MP said Malta today ranks 69th in the World Bank’s logistics scoreboard, the last from all EU countries, when in 2012 it ranked 43rd after Cyprus and Croatia, due to this increase in logistics costs.

The PN now wants to petition the European Commission to obtain its approval on €40m fund that can be justified as providing a level playing-field for Maltese businesses.

PN candidate Stanley Zammit said that the prices for the consumer have increased by 2.3% for the consumer and 2.9% for the manufacturer, while the wages have remain stagnant.

Zammit added that the PN wants to create a supply chain which is resilient and efficient. He added that the Department of Customs’s infrastracture needs to be modernised for this to happen.

PN candidate Noel Muscat said that the accessibility between Malta and Gozo should be improved, for the transportation costs to go down, both for the sake of the consumer and the manufacturer.

He added that the PN is proposing that a large merchant ship for transportation, in order to minimise the pollution generated by merchant trucks.

Another PN proposal is to facilitate digital commerce, both for the consumer and the maltese businesses, through satellite stations and automated machines.

Azzopardi was asked by MaltaToday about the guarantee that the consumers will have that they will ultimately benefit from cheaper goods, should the fund be approved.

He said that the measure should be effective and doable, and Malta unite and convince the EU that the state aid is applicable to Malta.

Azzopardi added that, once the fund is approved, yearly consultations will be held with the stakeholders in order to plan a fair distribution.