Updated: 12.40pm. 

A financial stimulus package to businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak is being discussed by senior government officials on Tuesday, with sources saying employers who sack workers will likely not be eligible.  

A source involved in the discussions said that as of 10.30am on Tuesday morning the final cost of the package was still being calculated but it was expected to be anywhere between €10million and €30 million monthly. 

Another source said the aid was mostly meant to help small and medium enterprises, particularly employers who are struggling to meet payroll costs owing to lost revenue. 

Employers who let go staff due to the COVID-19 outbreak were not expected to be entitled to the financial aid, a source said. This, he added, was to ensure workers were least effected by the epidemic.   

The economic stimulus, which is expected to be announced either on Tuesday or Wednesday, follows an announcement on Saturday that business owners and self-employed people whose trade has been most affected by a coronavirus-sparked slump will have all tax and social security payments due for March and April postponed.

A source privy to the discussions, told Times of Malta that while there were some who felt the government should go for a more robust assistance, there were fears that this would not be sustainable if the coronavirus outbreak were to last for several months. 

“It is best to be prudent at this point and go for a manageable pay out and then readjust if needs be. We don’t yet know how long this situation will last,” the source said.  

The first sign that more economic incentives were on the way came in the form of a pre-recorded video message uploaded by Economy Minister Silvio Schembri on Monday night.  

Schembri said that it would be premature to use all the savings from the lucrative passport scheme fund at this point. 

He was referring to a suggestion by the Chamber for SMEs, Paul Abela, who said the government should utilise the €600 million it saved through the Individual Investor Programme to help businesses.

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