The government’s third aid package for businesses, rolled out on Tuesday, is “late and selective,” Opposition leader Adrian Delia said on Wednesday, pointing out that over 110,000 workers will not benefit from it.

Addressing a news conference at PN headquarters, Delia said that the very fact that this was the third package in 11 days was testament to the government’s reactive approach.

“The delay in rolling out certain measures meant that some layoffs took place,  to the point that these measures were introduced retroactively,” he said.

The Opposition leader noted that in recent weeks a trend had developed where the government initially rejected proposals made by the PN, it ridiculed them, and then it adopted them. By that time, however, the damage was done. This was the case regarding the ban on all inbound flights, and the subsidy of half of the average wage, both initially suggested by the PN.

In the latter case, however, the government had been selective as only some 60,000 workers out of the country’s 172,000 workforce would benefit. Similarly out of an estimated 25,000 self-employed workers only 7,000 were catered for by the government, he said.

Delia said the aid package was being implemented in a disorganised way. The  banks were still at a loss on how to go about loan applications under the government’s guarantee scheme rolled out last week for businesses.

The Opposition leader reiterated his call for an immediate 50% reduction of utility rates in the wake of the drop in oil prices.

He denounced partisan comments by the prime minister on Tuesday about the PN’s debts with utility companies, which he observed, were made minutes after Robert Abela had called for national unity.

Delia questioned what was preventing the government from lowering rates.

“Our criticism last week that the government package will not safeguard jobs was a genuine eye-opener, and time proved us right as our proposals are now gradually being taken on board,” he said. 

 

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