The Malta Independent 1 April 2023, Saturday
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‘Government needs to reduce red tape to employ foreigners in the catering industry’ – ACE president

Semira Abbas Shalan Monday, 6 June 2022, 10:00 Last update: about 11 months ago

Government needs to help reduce the red tape to employ foreigners in the short term to address the issue of a drastic shortage of human resources, the newly-elected president of the Association of Catering Establishments Michelle Muscat said.

Answering questions by The Malta Independent on Sunday, Muscat highlighted some of the major issues the catering industry faced during the Covid-19 pandemic and continues to encounter in the face of recent global challenges. The hospitality and catering sector was undoubtedly the most affected by the pandemic and it is continuing to face greater issues at the hands of global challenges.


Asked what issues she has found in the industry, and how she would like to address them, Muscat said that the catering industry is facing unprecedented times with the impact experienced by the pandemic, which led to two separate closures in two respective years, permanent closure of outlets, a haemorrhage of talent and reduced revenues.

Muscat said that the industry is facing a severe shortage of human resources, in terms of retention and recruitment. Another problem is the spike in freight and product cost as a consequence of the war in Ukraine.

This has led to the industry facing a period of steep uphills Muscat said.

“The major issue as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic was certainly the shortage of human resources, which is a serious matter for all components of the catering industry especially now when we are at the doorstep of the peak season,” Muscat said.

She said that the issues are twofold, being a matter of quantity and quality. “Government has offered incentives in this year's budget to attract part-timers, but this is not enough,” Muscat said.

She continued to say that government needs to help reduce the red tape and excessive bureaucracy to employ foreigners. Moreover, it also needs to place importance on ensuring that the educational system provides enough talent and attractive training towards the industry from a very young age.

Asked what the way forward is in light of the recovery from the pandemic, Muscat said that the industry is operating in relative normality, however, bigger challenges are underway.

“The challenges brought about by the crisis in Ukraine, especially the sharp increase in prices, is a very serious matter which needs urgent attention and government support,” Muscat said.

She said that the ACE has proposed a few initiatives, one of which being a 7% VAT rate. Muscat insisted that the lack of human resources needs to be addressed both on the short- and long-term.

Muscat said that while government has always been supportive, the industry needs more aid.

“The industry has always been resilient and it is our objective to ensure it remains so; we hope that it will flourish in the coming years. It must be proactive, innovative, competitive, relevant and successful,” Muscat said.

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