During October the Malta Chamber of SMEs held an informative consultation meeting with members on the new round of ERDF funds being proposed for the period 2021 – 2027.
The consultation meeting was held in collaboration with the Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Hon. Dr. Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, who was also present for this meeting. The meeting was very well attended with over 100 members participating in this online consultation session.
During the meeting Hon. Zrinzo Azzopardi gave a brief explanation on the main thematic objectives being put forward by the Maltese government. The objectives of the funds highlighted mainly revolve around the transition of towards sustainable and greener models. Additionally these funds aim to increase the connectivity of the Maltese Islands with the rest of the EU. Other objectives include the fostering of competitiveness and an innovative and smart economic transformation and a more social and inclusive society. The consultation document includes also a focus on the Cohesion funds and Just Transition Funds.
During the meeting members had the possibility of addressing issues and concerns directly with Hon. Azzopardi. Of the feedback gathered during the meeting, members noted that in instances funds dedicated for each thematic objectives focused on national priorities to be implemented by the government, whereas funds allocated for businesses were not always mentioned. During the meeting members also emphasised on the need of simplifying the application process. This can easily be done through the introduction of a pre-application stage, which can give applicants a clear idea of the feasibility of the project. This would heavily reduce the administrative burden off businesses.
Following this meeting and in addition to the feedback received by other members, the SME Chamber submitted a detailed position paper giving feedback on each thematic objectives. Through this document the SME Chamber amongst others recommended:
- Dedicated funding for the Implementation of digitisation plans for businesses which includes the optimisation of client experience and Linking the site to stock levels.
- Funds for Charging Service Providers to cover ancillary infrastructure required such as sub-stations and direct cable requirements, this is to assist members in transitioning towards the electrification to EVs.
- The allocation of Grants for Businesses to conduct audits on water management solutions and also the inclusion of grants for the implementation of recommended solutions
- The Creation of a National Last Mile Delivery Hub which would include the support of; General Infrastructure for the physical logistical hub / drop-off point, Purchase of Electric Vans / Trucks, Human Resources, Investment in IT infrastructure for those making use of it and Investment in advanced logistics software solutions.
- Measures directed at public education should also be open for private education providers. The workings of this can be done in consultation with the Chamber of SMEs which represents licensed private education providers.
- Generate a quality mark and what is necessary to have this function property. This includes designs, testing labs, a regulatory framework and an award system.
- Allocate grants for supply chain operators to retrofit engines (HDDF systems) of heavy vehicles and for the purchase of 21 energy efficient vehicles and equipment related with road transport.
The detailed position paper can be viewed here
The Malta Chamber of SMEs will continue monitoring the implementation of the programming period in order to ensure that adequate funding is allocated for businesses across the board.