Chamber keeps open line of Communication with the Authorities on Economic Support Schemes
In recent days, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry endeavoured to maintain an open line of communication with the key stakeholders on its proposals aimed at offsetting deteriorating demand conditions from abroad. To this end, in January, it recommended short-run support measurers focusing on maintaining cost competitiveness and bolstering short-term demand for locally-generated goods and services.
The Chamber continued to insist that short-term measures adopted should be of a timely, targeted and temporary nature and that these should focus on: Reducing business operational costs; Enhanced access to liquidity; Enhancing flexibility in the labour market; Direct marketing support to the Tourism industry
President Helga Ellul stressed on the need for a temporary moratorium to be granted on any increases in government induced costs, including those of an environmental nature. Besides, she said, “the uncertainty surrounding the utility rates issue must be eliminated immediately. Bills covering the period since October 2008 must be issued without further delay and March 1st must be announced as the review date of utility rates. Both steps will enable adequate financial planning on the part of business operators.”
The Chamber also stressed on the granting of investment incentives through revised tax depreciation allowances, sensible use of training grants and the introduction of enhanced flexibility in working hours.
In the past week, the Chamber followed up by holding active discussions with the Governor of the Central Bank, the Chairman of the MCESD and the Minister of Finance in separate meetings.
In the latter meeting, the Minister explained the reasoning behind the setting up of the task force, its composition and how it was functioning. The Chamber praised this step and other concrete efforts undertaken so far. The agreement with banks on granting a moratorium on capital repayments on pending loans by hotels was perceived by the Chamber as a particularly positive and practical measure and recommended that it should be extended to other sectors. To this end, the Chamber offered further help to the authorities to provide a structured early warning system which would then be effectively acted upon by the authorities.
The Chamber President described these as very insightful and positive meetings enabling a better understanding of Government’s approach of the matter. “The action taken thus far by the authorities is much in line with the measures we proposed in our position paper. We are confident that with this co-ordinated and focused approach, the country will manage to avert some undesirable consequences of the international situation.”