Half of businesses in Gozo say they will shut down if the coronavirus outbreak persists, a survey has found.

The Gozo Business Chamber said they had asked businesses what measures they were planning if the outbreak persists and 50 per cent said they "will have to close down".

A large majority of the respondents, 70 per cent, felt they had already been hit "very negatively” by the coronavirus outbreak. 

While eight per cent said they weren’t planning any special measures, 42 per cent said they would have to scale down their operations and a third will have to downsize their workforce if the COVID-19 epidemic which has brought the country to a near standstill continues. 

On Saturday Prime Minister Robert Abela announced 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. 

Only 6 per cent of Gozitan employers felt the tax break announced by the government on Saturday was enough to help them weather the storm. A third felt that more should have been done, while two-thirds said the measures would have no impact whatsoever.  

More than nine in 10 businesses on the sister isle believe that a special aid package should be rolled out for Gozo.  

On Tuesday Times of Malta reported how the government was holding internal discussions to finalise an aid package that was expected to run into tens of millions of euro every month.  

Asked what their main concerns were, the respondents said cash flow, and meeting payroll costs topped the list.  

The chamber is proposing that VAT on invoices should only be payable when the amount is actually received from the client.  

Businesses, the chamber said, should have their wages subsidised, and the burden of quarantine leave should be shouldered by the government and not employers.  

The chamber said that 37 per cent of respondents to its survey were in the tourism industry, 23 per cent were in wholesale and retail, 6 per cent were in construction, 13 per cent were in finance, insurance and professional services, 4 per cent were in manufacturing, 2 per cent were in transport, and 15 per cent said their businesses were in the “other” category.  

It did not say how many were surveyed.  

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us