A new version of the wage subsidy scheme based on the level of losses suffered by businesses as a result of COVID-19 was announced on Tuesday.

Minister for energy and enterprise Miriam Dalli and Malta Enterprise chief Kurt Farrugia told a press conference that assistance would be based on VAT returns as compared to the same period in 2019.

The revised system will come into effect as of this month. 

Businesses which have performed better or suffered loss of sales of less than nine per cent will no longer be eligible for the wage supplement. 

Businesses which saw a drop in sales of 55 per cent or more will continue to get the full wage supplement of €800 per worker monthly.

The subsidy for other businesses will be as follows: 

  • Drop in sales between 45 per cent and 54 per cent - €640 per worker per month.

  • Drop between 35 and 44 per cent - €480 per worker per month;
  • Drop between 25-34 per cent - €320 per worker per month;
  • Drop between 10-24 per cent - €160 per worker per month.

Dalli said a new feature of the 2021 scheme is that it will also cover worker substitution, in that, for example, if a chef resigned from a restaurant and another was engaged, that restaurant will get the wage supplement for the new chef, back-dated to October. In such cases, the number of workers cannot exceed what was on the company books last May. 

The purpose of the scheme, she stressed, was not just to save jobs and help businesses survive, but to also encourage growth. 

“With the onset of vaccines, this is the right to time to work on a strategy which not only helps those in need, but also ensures that businesses not only survive, but grow.”

The wage supplement will mean a government outlay of €40m per month, and Dalli pointed out that businesses also benefit from other schemes on their utility tariffs and rents.

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