The Civil Society Network has published a list of 14 proposals that would cost around €1 billion to combat the drastic effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is leaving on the global economy.
These proposals, it said, were created with the aim of aiding every sphere of society so that it remained afloat, while acknowledging that everybody had a role to play in ensuring the wellbeing and national strength in future.
1. Incentives for hoteliers to offer affordable accommodation to healthcare workers and social security workers for as long as they need to stay away from home. We thank them for their incredible service.
2. Utility bills should not be sent to businesses and households during the quarantine/lockdown period, as is being done in France.
3. A temporary suspension of the granting of new work permits so as to give preference to those workers of any nationality who have recently lost their jobs because of the virus.
4. Severance packages involving an immediate lump sum should be given to workers who have lost their jobs because of the virus, as well as a minimum wage allowance during the crisis.
5. Government-issued zero-interest loans should be guaranteed for enterprises for a period of time after the lockdown ends, dependent on whether employees all retained their employment contracts.
6. Dues towards national insurance should be waived during the quarantine/lockdown period.
7. A moratorium on mortgages and other payments for the duration of the crisis, or three months, so that payments are deferred until afterwards.
8. Payroll protection from the government for salaries paid out during these three months, wherein the government pays for 75% of an enterprise’s salaries provided it does not make anyone redundant during the crisis.
9. Income tax reduction for the next two quarters, or six months.
10. VAT reduction on essential goods sold in supermarkets.
11. Relaxing tax bands to assist those who earn less than €30,000 annually for a limited time.
12. Deferral of payments for provisional and income taxes for small and medium-sized enterprises.
13. Tax reduction or exemption for landowners who lower their rents by 50% in commercial properties and/or 75% for domestic properties during the duration of the lockdown.
14. Establishment of committee between the largest economic entities - the government, the Opposition, trade unions, and large-scale employers - to give its advice to the House of Representatives on the economic crisis.
These proposals should cost around €1 billion, meaning less than 10 per cent of Malta’s GDP.
The CSN argued that foreign governments were already offering around 10 per cent of their respective gross domestic product to combat the symptoms of a weakened economy due to the effects of COVID-19.
The UK was proposing spending 20 per cent of its GDP, while other countries like France were settling at 10%.
If the large sums of money that were obtained by the government through the IIP scheme were to be spent somewhere, they ought to be invested in the Maltese economy so as to maintain confidence in the system, the society said.
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