The Maltese maritime industry said on Wednesday it was perplexed that it had been largely overlooked by the government in its assistance to economic activities adversely affected by the coronavirus.  

The Malta Maritime Forum said it accounted for 23,000 jobs, an added value to the Maltese economy estimated at €2 billion per year and a contribution of 7% to the total domestic economy.  

Relegating such a forceful economic motor to an assistance of a day’s salary per week per employee week was an injustice to the industry and showed a detachment of the policymaker from the reality on the ground.  

The industry had never had any form of assistance from the government and yet it kept the lifeline for Malta’s foreign trade with the ports functioning professionally and uninterruptedly, terminals attracting foreign trade which was substantially higher than the local trade and ancillary maritime services supporting the vibrant port activity.

Relegating the maritime industry to the class of economic activities “less affected” by the coronavirus was unfortunate and unfair.  It was symptomatic of the low esteem meted to the maritime industry.

The forum said it was not consulted at any stage, nor invited to sit at the negotiation table together with the other social partners so its voice remained unheard.  

The investment in people that the maritime industry undertook over the years could not and should not be sacrificed. The resources the country had diligently amassed through the taxes paid by Maltese enterprises should be put to work in times of need and the government should assist the maritime industry saw its activity drop by more than 50% in a matter of one month.  

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