The Malta Independent 25 May 2020, Monday

COVID-19: First batch of wage supplement payments to be given out next week – Silvio Schembri

Karl Azzopardi Thursday, 9 April 2020, 16:12 Last update: about 3 months ago

Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses Silvio Schembri said that the first batch payments for those who applied for the COVID-19 wage supplement scheme will start being given out next week.

This afternoon, Schembri held a press conference where he provided details on the assistance provided in relation to COVID-19 economic support measures.

He explained that payments will be made in batches because there were applications which were not as straight forward to process due to incorrect information.

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However, he ensured that all application will be processed and that there is not end date for people to apply as this measure will keep on functioning until it is deemed necessary.

The minister added that the payment will then be backdated depending on when the company or self-employed person issued their application. He said that payments for March through to April will cost the government around €100 million for the government.

Till today, there were 12,885 companies and self-employed persons that applied for this supplement. Most of them - 74% to be exact - were all self-employed, 22% companies and 3% were partners, the remaining 1% was listed as 'others'.

Schembri said that 97% were Maltese companies while only 3% were Gozitan.

From the aspect of employment the majority of those benefitting are full-timers, totalling to 52,703 employees, while there were just over 10,000 part-timers.

"This means that we have already saved over 62,000 jobs, which shows the investment that the government is making in order to safeguard people's jobs," Schembri said.

The principals sectors that applied for this, were the accommodation sector and the restaurant sector, followed by retail, wholesale and repair of vehicles. Then there were the support services, the transport sector and finally the storage sector. 

CEO of Malta Enterprise Kurt Farrugia reiterated that applications are open indefinitely so everyone can keep on applying.

He explained that COVID-19 Wage Supplement applicants will receive a confirmation email after submitting an online application with an application reference number, and they will then receive another email later on which indicates whether their request was denied or accepted.

He also pointed out that the system automatically detects duplicate applications or persons listed twice. However, there is also cross checking with other government entities on employment registration and other financial assistance.

Employees will know that their employer will start receiving supplements as Malta Enterprise will send out a note to all employers to confirm that employees have been paid and that they are still employed with them.

Faliure of passing on these funds to them will be considered a criminal offence. Spot-checks via calls to employees on approved applications to verify that the wage supplement has been passed on will also be made.

Additionally, for transparency's sake, Malta Enterprise will publish a list of companies that are in receipt of this assistance.

Farrugia said that Malta Enterprise has had to completely shift the way it works in order to provide all the required help needed to clarify anything that revolves around the government's financial packages.

This included not only the COVID-19 wage supplement but also the Teleworking scheme and Quarantine leave.

Farrugia said that they received 250 applications for the teleworking scheme and 30 have been approved until now, but they anticipate that the number will keep on increasing. €40,000 have already been distributed to the approved companies.

With regards to quarantine leave - the €350 grant in assistance to employers for each employee on quarantine leave - Malta Enterprise received 1,112 application for 2,375 employees.


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