The Malta Independent 27 November 2021, Saturday

PN pledges €40m fund to aid manufacturers due to exporting handicap

Giuseppe Attard Friday, 10 September 2021, 13:29 Last update: about 4 months ago

A Nationalist government would set up a €40 million national fund in order to assist local businesses and industries deal with the “constantly rising export expenses.”

The fund, together with 4 other proposals aimed at improving the logistical and financial burdens on the local industry, were announced at a press conference on Friday morning.

“Due to the connectivity handicap Malta has being surrounded by sea, Maltese exporters cannot compete with their European counterparts in other countries because of the added expenses tied with the exporting of goods. This should not be a limiting factor,” PN MP Jason Azzopardi said.

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“The current export costs this year stand at around €30 to €40 million and the fund would cover this expense. In 2012, the cost was that of around €20 million. Since 2012 the expense paid by the manufacturer has more than doubled,” Azzopardi continued.

In order to further make his point, Azzopardi made use of statistics from other countries, comparing the percentage of expenses spent on transport.

In Belgium, a total of 2% of manufacturers’ expenses are spent on transportation, in Italy manufacturers spend 6% of their total expenses on transportation. “In Malta, our manufacturers are in a situation were they have to spend 20% of their total expenses in order to transport their products to other countries,” Azzopardi said.

Azzopardi said that this is a very important issue which needs to be addressed immediately. “When I asked Minister Miriam Dalli about the matter back in July, she said that there are no concrete plans in this regard,” Azzopardi said.

According to statistics by the World Bank, which ranks countries according to the expenses needed to export goods, since 2012, Malta has gone from 43rd in the world all the way down to 69th.

“In other words, the World Bank statistic is a ruler to compare one country to another and since 2012, Malta has suffered greatly in this regard.”

Azzopardi said that, when compared to countries like Germany, Malta is nowhere near consistent when it comes to the score given. “Since 2012 there was a constant decline in rating,” Azzopardi said.

Azzopardi claimed that, “without certain expenses the GDP in Malta would increase by 10%. It is therefore astonishing as to why the government would do nothing about it.”

Due to this reason, the PN is calling upon the government to act and make its case to the European Commission in order to amend the EU state aid laws for Malta in order to be able to help the local industry.

“We have a case, and we are confident that we will prevail. This is a case in favour of Malta, in favour of local manufacturers, in favour of employees and in favour of our economy.”

PN candidate Stanley Zammit presented another two proposals which are part of the holistic plan the PN has drafted to enact if elected in government.

An intermodal transportation hub in our country would tie together all the modes of transport for exporting and importing goods under one infrastructural roof.  This would create new incentives in order to increase business and new opportunities in Malta.

“We have to widen our transport routes to and from Malta if we want to improve the situation,” Zammit said.

Another proposal is to invest in a digital platform between business and government entities. “Digital platforms like this would reduce bureaucracy and waste of time between entities,” Zammit said.

Through this proposal, aa PN government would be investing “heavily” both physically and digitally in the customs department.

“A logistical investment in the customs department while also improving the working condition would result in a more competitive international market for Malta”

PN candidate Noel Muscat presented the last two proposals.

“A dedicated ship for transport between Malta and Gozo is needed. This ship once bought would be operated by Gozo Channel and its sole purpose would be to transport bulky goods between the two islands,” Muscat said. This will improve waiting times for both the industry sector and also those looking to go to travel between the two islands. “This proposal also is beneficial for normal Gozo Channel commuters as there would be less emissions around.”

The PN is also proposing improved digital infrastructure for the arrival of goods. “In order to limit the time wasted to deliver goods to local businesses, an investment in the digital infrastructure for the entity responsible for this would prove to be beneficial for everyone involved,” Muscat said.

As part of this proposal, an elected PN government proposes that a central warehouse in Valletta would be created. In this warehouse, smaller transport vehicles which would cause less strain in the Maltese roads would be used to transpire goods around Malta.

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