The Malta Independent 25 May 2020, Monday

Number of expected redundancies down by half after latest round of measures - Chamber

Wednesday, 8 April 2020, 16:33 Last update: about 3 months ago

The number of redundancies expected to come about as a result of the Covid-19 crisis went down by half after the latest economic measures were announced, the Chamber of Commerce said.

"Compared to a previous survey conducted on 20-23 March, the forecasts for redundancies as extrapolated on a national level appear to have attenuated by almost one half. In fact, the latest forecast now stands at around 23,000 workers as compared to 45,000, two weeks ago," the Chamber said.

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"This outcome would seem to indicate that the measures put in place so far have had a positive impact on businesses, especially those operating in the hospitality sector, restaurants and non-essential retail segments although it also clearly indicates that more support is needed for other segments."

The survey was conducted among Chamber members after the latest round of measures, announced on 24 March.

"One quarter of survey respondents were eligible for the maximum amount of support under the Malta Enterprise Covid wage supplement, also known as Annex A, and these reported less redundancies than two weeks ago. The remaining three-quarters of respondents either do not qualify for the wage subsidy scheme or currently fall under the so-called Annex B, which covers up to 160 euros of an employee's monthly salary. It is clear that a number of operators in these last two categories need similar assistance to that covered by Annex A," the Chamber said. "Otherwise, these companies will have no choice but to let their employees go or risk folding up."

The largest number of redundancies are forecast in the Wholesale and Retail Trade followed by Manufacturing, Education, Construction and Real Estate, Accommodation and Food Service, Transport and Logistics, Professional Services, and Other Services.

"Clearly, some of these sectors are covered by the support available in Annexes A and B but others are not. This is why the Chamber has made fresh proposals for support to be provided to all businesses irrespective of the economic sector they operate in. The Chamber has maintained that any support given should be based on the loss of turnover they are currently experiencing when compared to the corresponding period last year."

There is reason to believe that the reported decline in redundancy expectations may be influenced by an imprudent assumption that business will return back to normality before summer, it said.

"The Chamber is duty bound to inform its members that this will most likely not be the case and that they should plan appropriately for a long period of economic closure by reaching out for the support available."

They should also be innovative in adapting their businesses to ensure relevance during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Chamber said it will continue to follow-up its research with members in the coming weeks to ensure that its active representations with Government are well aligned with its members' requirements.

 


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