Vouchers set to boost spending in local businesses will start arriving by post in Maltese households as from Wednesday.
The vouchers, which amount to €100, are split into five of €20 in value each. They will arrive by registered mail via MaltaPost and have to be signed for by a member of the household, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said in a press conference at the Economy Ministry in Valletta on Wednesday.
Announced in June as part of the government’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery plan, the scheme will see every Maltese citizen who turned 16 on June 8, as well as every person who holds Maltese residence and work permits, receiving vouchers to be spent at local businesses.
The vouchers are to be spent at restaurants and accommodation businesses, sectors that were particularly hard hit during the pandemic.
Some 440,000 residents in Malta and Gozo are eligible for the vouchers while over 2,000 local businesses have signed up to receive the vouchers as payment in their establishments.
If no one is home to receive the vouchers upon first delivery, they will be left at the nearest MaltaPost office for collection. After 12 days, MaltaPost will issue a reminder to the recipients that their vouchers are ready for collection.
Every voucher set is issued against a valid ID card number and must be spent by September 30. The scheme is set to cost the government €44 million.
Recipients may make use of the vouchers as from 24 hours after they have been delivered. The vouchers will not work if used before that time period has elapsed.
Who do the vouchers work?
The voucher set is split into five, one blue and four red vouchers.
Red vouchers may be used at bars, restaurants, hotels, accommodation businesses as well as diving centers while blue vouchers can be redeemed at any type of outlet that was ordered to close at the start of the public health emergency.
This includes hair and beauty salons, retail outlets, domestic shops, sports clubs, museums, arts and culture centres and band clubs, among others.
Consumers must make a purchase of at least the minimum amount of a single voucher to be able redeem them. While there is no limit on how much of the vouchers can be spent at once, businesses cannot give change and the vouchers cannot be exchanged for cash.
However, vouchers can be transferred from one person to another should recipients choose to do so. The government will not be monitoring where and on what the vouchers are spent.
On the business end, shop owners can apply to be part of the voucher scheme online through an app that can be downloaded on any smartphone or tablet.
At the purchasing stage, cashiers have to scan the QR code on the voucher as well as the VAT receipt to authorise the purchase.
Money from the voucher purchase will then be deposited into a valid credit account of the business owner’s choosing.
The physical vouchers must be kept by cashiers and will be subject to an audit, in which the scanned amount in cash and physical vouchers must tally.
Cashiers should not accept anything short of the physical voucher, even if a photo of the QR code is offered instead.
Vouchers can only be used once and become invalid once scanned. If presented with an invalid voucher, cashiers should not accept it.
The vouchers can be verified as legitimate under UV light, as the €20 demarcation, as well as a strip on the right side of the voucher will glow when exposed to UV rays.
Vouchers that are lost or damaged after delivery will not be replaced.