Soldiering on: servizz.gov during COVID-19

Winston Pirotta, servizz.gov CEO, gives a run-down of the work that the government information service continued giving despite the COVID-19 restrictions

servizz.gov operates as the bridge between the Public Service of Malta and the general public, making government services more accessible, and is determined to continue serving the citizen efficiently during these difficult times.

servizz.gov’s aim, over the past five years, has been to make life easier and save citizens time. 

With the outbreak of Covid 19 in Malta, servizz.gov took all precautionary measures possible to safeguard the health of its representatives and the public in general. 

With effect from Monday 30 March, servizz.gov closed its eight hubs, that is the five regional hubs in Paola, Vittoriosa, Birkirkara, Qawra and Ħal Qormi and the three technical hubs in Floriana. All will remain closed until further notice.

But servizz.gov remains available on Freephone 153, with assistance available daily, Monday through Friday, from 08.00 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extended hours until 7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Freephone 153 is busier than usual and waiting time may be slightly longer than normal, so callers are asked to be patient.

Over the years, servizz.gov has exploited technological advancements to bring the public service closer to the citizen and is enhancing online services to allow easy access from the comfort of the citizen’s home. 

Following the announcement of four social measures related to Covid 19, which are part of a financial package administered by the Department of Social Security, servizz.gov strived to make life easier for citizens who are entitled to benefit from these measures. How? We did our best to make the application forms easily accessible by simply visiting the online one-stop shop, www.servizz.gov.mt. All the citizen has to do is click on the notice itself, shown on the main page, and easily find all the details about these measures and how to apply. 

The four social measures related to COVID-19 consist of the following: a benefit for persons with disability; a payment for parents; a medical benefit and an unemployment one. Most of the queries on Freephone 153 have been related to the parent benefit. This is a benefit for parents employed in the private sector, with children under 16 years of age, who have not been able to work from home, and who, due to the impact of COVID-19, after 8th March 2020 have not been able to go to work because they have to stay at home to take care of their children. 

One can easily apply online for three of these benefits. Those applying for the parent, disability or medical benefit, receive a direct payment of €166.15 per week, if working full-time, or €103.85 per week if working part-time.

The only benefit that there’s no need to apply for is the additional unemployment benefit. Anyone registering for work under the Part I register with Jobsplus, is eligible to benefit. 

These measures have been taken not only to protect the lives of citizens during this pandemic but also keeping in mind the long-term. In fact, for those applying for one of these social benefits, the Social Security contribution will be paid and their future contributory pension rights safeguarded.

Although the hubs are currently closed, servizz.gov is still fixing appointments with tax or social security experts. All the citizen has to do is to call Freephone 153 and choose for the expert to call back via a telephone call or a video call.

Another measure taken has been to continue receiving medical certificates at the hubs, even though they are closed. Letterboxes have been affixed for the certificates to be deposited. 

As well as the Freephone service, inquiries can be made by e-mail to [email protected]

I would encourage everyone to visit and like servizz.gov’s Facebook page which is regularly updated with anything related to government services and, particularly now, COVID-19 social measures.

We will continue to ensure the provision of government services to everyone everywhere, in the safest ways possible. We sincerely hope that everyone keeps safe, and find comfort in being able to interact with the Public Service from home.

Winston Pirotta is CEO of servizz.gov

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