The government could consider issuing another round of vouchers for consumer spending if the initial uptake serves its purpose well, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said on Friday. 

Announced in June as part of the government’s COVID-19 recovery measures, €100 in vouchers were distributed to citizens over the age of 16, mainly to spend on accommodation and eating out.

Restaurants struggling in the wake of the collapse in tourism have claimed the vouchers were a lifesaver.

Schembri said that feedback so far had been positive, with a month to go before they hit expiration.

The ministry, he said, will be unveiling more detailed figures on the economic activity generated by the vouchers and their impact on certain sectors. 

“We are still listening to stakeholders and if we see that the scheme has done well we may consider doing it again, but it would have to be discussed as part of a larger package,” Schembri said. 

“The budget is coming up in October and we cannot continue to think of standalone measures, which is why we need to differentiate between the economic recovery measures and the budget. 

“A budget has to have a wide array of goals and likewise our corresponding measures have to achieve more goals.” 

Asked whether the ministry would consider extending the deadline for use of the vouchers, which expire on September 30, the minister said a decision would be made based on the uptake and what was left over. 

Schembri was speaking at a press conference at Toly products, where employees have returned to a five-day work week, after the company benefited from €185,000 in government schemes, including the COVID wage supplement. 

The minister praised Toly, which makes packaging products for the beauty industry, for safeguarding the employment of 320 people through a difficult business period. 

“Toly’s main priority, that of safeguarding jobs, mirrors accurately our own. During the pandemic, which has affected each sector across the globe, Toly employees had to be furloughed to a four-day week operation. 

“Thanks to the bold economic measures launched by the government, with great satisfaction I welcome the news that the workers will soon be returning to a five-day week,” Schembri said. 

He added that the government would continue to explore all avenues to facilitate innovation for the benefit of industry. 

Toly’s ambitious investment projects in the pipeline complemented the government’s vision in shifting to a circular economy, he added.

Chairman and CEO of Toly Products, Andy Gatesy said: “While COVID-19 has disrupted the beauty industry, closing down points of sales and reducing the need for make-up, with people working from home and wearing masks when out in public, we are confident that the industry is resilient and will bounce back, once consumer confidence is regained.” 

“For sure Toly will be ready to take advantage of new opportunities when the time comes. In the meantime, the key is to keep people safe, protect jobs and retain the soul of our company.”

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