Some 2,000 jobs were saved thanks to the government's direct assistance to firms which ran into problems as a result of the international economic crisis, Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said today.

He said that the fact that these companies had kept going had also been vital for many SMEs which had regular business with them.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting to conclude activities marking the first European SMEs week, Mr Fenech said a Malta Enterprise call for applications from SMEs wishing to be assisted to access EU funds and programmes had drawn an encouraging 212 responses. Another call would therefore be made in the near future.

Mr Fenech insisted that despite the current economic scenario, the governemnt still viewed its 2015 targets as achievable.

Mr Fenech gave an overview of the current economic situation, noting that several countries were being more seriously affected than Malta. In Spain, for example, unemployment had now soared to 17.5%.

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