Businesses and workers have benefitted from €230 million in wage subsidies so far, with a further €200 million expected to be distributed until March 2021. Economy Minister Silvio Schembri, speaking in a press conference about the measures announced in the Budget, said that the scheme had already helped some 85,000 workers across almost 17,000 businesses.
“This is the most extensive budget ever presented in the history of our country,” he said. “During this extraordinary time, we have ensured that our businesses are sustained and reaffirmed the confidence we have in them, compelling them to take a step further and invest. In this, we shall remain standing shoulder to shoulder with them and our workers.”
Noting that more than €233 million has been distributed to workers for the Wage Supplement from March to September this year, the Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses added that through this budget another €200 million have been allocated to safeguard jobs through the continuation of the scheme.
He continued by saying that this has assisted 78,357 workers in Malta and 4,201 in Gozo, amounting to a total of 85,000 workers across 16,894 businesses.
Regarding the Telework scheme, he explained that by the 19th of October there were 662 applications, with €899,813 being disbursed to companies availing themselves of the initiative.
There were also 2,664 applications for the Quarantine Leave scheme. The total amount approved was €1,821,750, while the sum of €1,639,400 has already been paid out.
Regarding the scheme whereby businesses could apply for a refund of 50 per cent on their commercial rate electricity bills for July, August and September, and for which a budget of €35 million was allocated, the number of applications submitted to Malta Enterprise was 6,422, covering a total of 7,274 bills.
For the rent refund scheme, from which businesses could benefit from up to €7,500, according to the number of workers they employed and the number of rental agreements they held, and for which a budget of €45 million was allocated, Malta Enterprise received 4,405 applications from businesses and the self-employed, covering 4,954 individual lease contracts.
Eligibility for the rent and electricity refunds depended on whether the business was receiving the wage supplement. Addressing why the number of applications for these schemes was much smaller than the number of businesses receiving the Wage Supplement, the Minister explained that certain businesses do not consume much electricity, while other businesses include self-employed who work from home and therefore do not qualify as their meter would be on a domestic rate, not a commercial one.
The same applies for the rent refund – those who operate from their own home, or from property owned by themselves, were not eligible for this scheme.
Malta Enterprise Chief Executive Kurt Farrugia explained that a scheme incentivising companies employing fewer than 50 people to undertake innovation projects will be launched in the near future. The scheme, announced in the Budget, will aid technological investments which improve the operation of companies. Up to 50 per cent of the cost can be covered. Mr Farrugia said that efforts continue to be made to bolster existing schemes aimed towards existing sectors while attracting new ones.
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