The Malta Independent 26 September 2021, Sunday

Casa calls for contingency measures to help SMEs impacted by Coronavirus

Wednesday, 11 March 2020, 12:06 Last update: about 3 years ago

Nationalist MEP David Casa today called for measures to help SMEs hit by the Coronavirus.

“SMEs are the backbone of our economy and as a result of their small size, they may be less able to withstand economic shocks of unknown duration such as the one we are facing right now due to this virus outbreak. Contingency measures should be in place to assist these companies in the event of such disruption. Such measures should be triggered as soon as they become necessary," he said.

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Quaestor David Casa pointed to the German model where in the event of unforeseen economic shocks companies have the possibility of retaining staff by having them work on reduced hours while the state compensates for the difference in salary.

“These short-term work subsidy schemes can be instrumental to prevent layoffs while ensuring that SMEs have the support they need to make it through a crisis. Measures should not be limited to such schemes. Particular sectors, such as tourism, that are likely to be hit harder and might require more targeted assistance. We must not be complacent in assessing the measures at our disposal and putting additional measures in place”, stated MEP David Casa.

Casa is the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on the ESF+. This fund is the European Union’s main tool in the field of employment, training and social inclusion with a budget of around €100bn for the period 2021-2027. 

“The health of our citizens must be our first priority. It is however also our duty to start preparations to address the financial and social impact of the coronavirus. We are looking at the changes that can be made to the application of EU structural funds and how unspent funds can be redirected. But we must also take the necessary steps at national level to limit the consequences of the coronavirus”, stated Casa.

In another statement, MEP Roberta Metsola said:  “We cannot allow scaremongering to cloud our judgement but we must be responsible. Disease knows no borders and we need to make sure European rules can respond to both the immediate health concerns and the impact on our economies and people’s livelihoods."

MEP Metsola called for a multi-pronged approach with the protection of people’s health being topmost, she said “The EU’s response to the coronavirus is rightly top of its agenda, and we need coordinated action to ensure that European healthcare systems have all the resources they require to deal with the increased pressure. European Union solidarity mechanisms and funding must be made immediately available to the worst affected regions. We have to work together”.

The Head of the PN Delegation said that “we must be flexible enough to ensure that employers, employees, people working in the gig economy and, crucially, the self-employed can continue to work while minimising the risk to their health and that those unable to work, or who see a disproportionate impact, are supported. All options for tele-working need to be supported.”

MEP Metsola said “We know that many businesses big, small or micro - in Malta, Gozo and across Europe - will face difficulties because of the outbreak and we must ensure that they have access to emergency funds to recover, and to recover quickly. The impact on the economy will be more acutely felt in smaller tourism-dependent States like Malta and Gozo. We want a European stimulus package, increased EIB-supported loan facilities  to support our economies and the political understanding that Member States must be able to have the flexibility to adapt State aid rules, for a limited period of time, to support pillars of our economy and those businesses who need it the most.”

MEP Metsola also called for an EU-wide information campaign to fight disinformation and panic and to ensure citizens follow health authorities advice on how to minimise exposure and self-quarantine guidelines in an effort to stem the growth of the virus. “It is especially important that information reaches people with a disability - through the use of sign-language or subtitles on television for example - by the relevant authorities. We can beat this if we work together and everyone takes their responsibilities seriously.”

 

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