The Malta Independent 15 June 2024, Saturday
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Almost 17,000 businesses apply for Covid-19 wage supplement, 77,000 jobs saved – Silvio Schembri

Albert Galea Friday, 17 April 2020, 13:07 Last update: about 5 years ago

A total of 16,970 businesses have applied for aid under government’s Covid-19 wage supplement mechanism, meaning that some 77,000 workers have been saved from redundancy so far, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri announced on Friday.

In a press conference on the take-up of the government’s economic measures – which will be a weekly occurrence – Schembri listed statistics about the various economic measures which the government have implemented so far in response to the crisis brought about by the spread of Covid-19 in Malta.

He said that a total of 42,387 queries had been handled in the last four weeks, but noted that Malta Enterprise was now managing to cope with the demand.  19,137 of these queries were in the form of telephone calls, while the remaining 23,250 were through other means such as emails or social media enquiries.

Schembri said that a total of 298 applications had been received for the government’s teleworking scheme.  77 of those have been approved, out of which 64 have already received 81,124 in funds between them. Another 214 applications remain pending.

There have been another 1,298 applications for the government’s quarantine leave aid mechanism, from which 491 have been approved and €49,350 have been disbursed to all but one of those approved applicants.  Another 807 applications are still pending.

The government’s wage supplement mechanism meanwhile remains the most taken up source of aid.  In the scheme, businesses which have been worst hit are classified to receive aid of up to 800 per month per full-time employee if they fall into Annex A or up to 160 per month per full-time employee if they fall into Annex B.

A total of 16,970 businesses have applied for aid under this scheme, with 12,161 of those being self-employed businesses.  4,026 companies also applied, along with 442 partnerships and another 341 businesses which weren’t classified under any of those three categories.

This is equivalent to 76,976 workers across both annexes. 72,851 of these workers are based in Malta, while the remaining 4,125 are based in Gozo. 65,707 of them are full-time workers while 11,269 are part-time workers.

Annex A businesses – the higher classification of aid – have applied most under the scheme, with 14,539 applications being received in this regard.  These applications cater for 51,494 full-time workers and 9,558 part-time workers. Out of those applications, 4,324 – catering for 7,071 full-time workers and 1,223 part-time workers – have been approved and 2,963 such businesses have already begun receiving money.  In fact, a total of 4.9 million has been paid to these businesses.

The remaining 2,431 applications were from businesses which fall under Annex B, and cater for 14,213 full-time workers and 1,711 part-time workers.  861 of those have been approved, and 440 have received 325,380 between them so far.

Schembri said that the payments started being sent out on Thursday, and that the payments will cover up until the end of April so to provide businesses with a bit more liquidity.

He also clarified that when it comes to part-time work, the aid will only apply for workers who have that part-time job as their primary job, rather than as an on-the-side job to supplement their income from another job.

He noted that there is no end-date for companies to apply for this help, and that every genuine application from businesses which need help will be accepted.

He also briefly touched upon the measures announced yesterday by the government, wherein the government will cover up to 2.5% of the interest rate on loans taken by businesses for them to be able to maintain liquidity.  This compliments another already implemented government guarantee scheme, Schembri said.

Schembri noted the ministry’s slogan: Taking care of today and tomorrow – adding that discussions had already started with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister on an exit strategy and an economic restart strategy for once the health crisis begins to subside.

Malta Enterprise CEO Kurt Farrugia said that there had been issued with verifying some data, due to input errors on the past of the applicants.  He said that they had contacted 2,100 companies so far in order to verify their IBAN numbers due to errors which there were in them, and were currently verifying 11,243 ID card details as well.

He said that there is also a verification process to ensure that workers are not being double-funded.  He said that people cannot have a wage supplement for both a full-time and a part-time job, and that the same holds for those who have a part-time job which has been stopped but are still working their full-time job.

He hoped that by the end of April the backlog of applications is dealt with, and noted that the wage supplement should be passed to the employee from the employer in the upcoming salary.

Fielding questions from journalists, Schembri said that the government was continually evaluating which sectors should receive aid.  He noted that certain industries had remained operating as normal, some even with more work than before, and reminded that the money being invested is public money and needs to be invested with diligence.

He noted that Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis will be communicating with the Chamber of Advocates in the coming days on measures applicable for those in the legal profession.

He also said that the current situation has presented an opportunity for businesses to analyse whether a teleworking system is productive or not, and noted that this is a point where a positive from the crisis may actually emerge.

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