The COVID-19 pandemic hit Gozo hard, with a number of large and small businesses already planning a closure after seeing their cash flow dwindling, according to the Gozo Business Chamber. 

It said the measures announced by the government had little effect in the long run. Instead, they expected the government to help by providing, in collaboration with banks, a substantial cash injection into businesses by the way of grants and loans at subsidised rates, as other governments were doing all over the EU.

It said that nothing short of a heavy subsidy on wages will keep Gozitan businesses above the surface. “It is neither just nor equitable that businesses are being called by government to shoulder the burden of quarantine leave. The call by unions was heeded to the full and government transferred the problem to the most vulnerable, aiding to the collapse of businesses,” the chamber said.

It said that although accelerated payment by government and teleworking efforts were a step in the right direction, the chamber proposed that employers are only bound to pay 50 per cent of National Insurance contributions for as long as this situation subsists. 

“We are inviting government to discuss with us a specific programme of incentives for Gozitan businesses which cannot afford more days in this situation let alone weeks and months,” it said.

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