On June 8, we launched the economic regeneration plan we developed over recent months. The date chosen, together with the place, was not by chance.
We designated the day after June 7 because on June 8, 1919, the social uprising of the previous day transformed into the political drive that led to us becoming a sovereign nation. As for Fort St Elmo, this is where in 1565 defeat was turned into victory. Undaunted by the endless forces assaulting them, a handful of heroes gave their lives to allow the rest to prepare themselves and defeat the most formidable enemy.
Over recent months we faced the biggest challenge our young republic ever faced. I remember the doom and gloom of the first weeks when tens of thousands were forecast would fall ill. I remember the predictions that tens of thousands would end up jobless.
Undaunted, two teams worked incessantly. One focused on efforts to overcome the medical emergency. The second tried to limit the economic collateral and prepared earnestly for the relaunch.
The success of the first team went beyond expectations. Our small nation is the EU country that has carried out the most tests per capita, the one with the lowest mortality rate and the least pressure on intensive care.
Concurrently, the rapid deployment of tax deferrals, loan moratorium, social security and the COVID wage supplement turned the tsunami of projected redundancies into a trickle. While the US faces the unemployment of the 1930s, Malta still has lower unemployment than a few years ago.
While the defensive strategy was being deployed, the regeneration plan was being finalised. Discussions with stakeholders and foreign experts yielded promising ideas. Equally important, past strategy that made us an economic success was recalibrated to regenerate the social progress and welfare which our nation now rightly expects.
Your purchase is someone’s income, which soon enough will become your income again
The moment the presentation of June 8 ended, I felt normality had returned. The same dynamism, the same positive force, the same hope which buoyed our nation in 2013 was evident again.
Businesses which were expecting cutbacks instead saw further tax deferrals, an extension of the wage supplement and a stream of schemes to reduce burdens and spur on innovation, investment, business promotion and training. We have a total of 20 different measures that will lower costs and inject liquidity equivalent to €400 million. The average SME which engages in training and revamps its business plans can look forward to €18,000 assistance. From wages to rents to electricity, to equipment modernisation, the list of assistance is impressive.
While focusing on the present, we also used the economic pause to plan our next steps. Therefore, we announced the largest industrial infrastructure development in our history, with a budget of €400 million. From logistics to life sciences to start-ups, we want to use space better to maximise value. And besides this, we are committed to engage fully with the European Green deal and transform completely our economy.
Meanwhile, given lower foreign demand as countries around us have not been as fortunate in their fight, in the coming months our dependence on local purchasing power will rise. That is why we introduced incentives which will boost this by €100 million, through vouchers, tax refunds, higher in-work benefits, lower fuel prices and reduced property taxes. As a result, a low-income family will receive a boost of €760 in their disposable income.
I believe that whenever the government invested money in our families and businesses, the return was always extraordinary. My appeal today is that every one of you can be part of the national effort that will build a better tomorrow. Your decision to go out and buy from a local business will not just save the livelihood of that business. It will save your own livelihood. To defeat this crisis there is no us and them, but just us.
The best way to protect the livelihood of your family is to invest in the livelihood of others. Your purchase is someone’s income, which soon enough will become your income again when that someone purchases what you produce. Support your local businesses. In truth, you are supporting yourself.
Become a tourist in your country. Millions save for months to be able to visit us.
You just need to hop on a bus, ride a bike or drive your car. You will not only enjoy yourself. You will sustain your fellows.
If you want to save intelligently, support our regeneration plan. Help us sustain the transformation of our economy. You will not only earn interest. You will earn a new economy that will create better jobs for your family and friends.
Together we stood against COVID-19. Together we overcame fear and despair. Together we will build a better tomorrow.
Robert Abela, Prime Minister
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