Fabian Demicoli

Employment Aid Programme must be reactivated with immediate effect


ETC reply to GRTU article – ETC would like to reply to the above-captioned article
which appeared on the Business Weekly of 11th October and provide some clarifications
on issues that were raised in the said article.

The Employment Aid Programme (EAP) was a very effective
active labour market programme through which both Maltese businesses and
jobseekers, especially disadvantaged persons and persons with disability,
benefitted.  In 2011 the aid intensity
was increased from 26 to 52 weeks for 6 out of the 7 target groups earmarked
for the scheme. This further enhanced the success of the scheme as there was
drastic increase in both the number of applications submitted and also
subsequent placements.  This also had a
net positive effect towards achieving a higher employment rate, in spite of the
economic crisis that was affecting a number of EU member states and northern Africa.

The EAP scheme's successful take-up prompted ETC to
request an increase from original budget allocated for the scheme, which
amounted to €8.2 million, by an additional €4 million.  In spite of this substantial increase (almost
50%), this budget was exceeded and we were faced with a situation whereby
employers were not submitting claims for disbursement which were due.  A decision was taken to close the programme
temporarily.  This measure was announced
at the end of May and employers could submit their applications by 8th June.
Neither the over-subscription, nor the temporary closure of the scheme, was the
result of any mismanagement as implied in the said article. Moreover, though
employers initially delayed in submitting their claims for reimbursements, the
actions taken by the Corporation, together with the cooperation of employers
and their associations, resulted in the great majority of employers submitting
their claims.  This has resulted in a net
improvement in the amounts disbursed recently that are now in excess of € 2
million with another €1 million which are in the final stages of the
disbursement process.

It is pertinent to note that EAP is co-funded through
the European Social Fund and such projects are bound with a budget and with a
set timeline. The article published commends the programme, and this will be
considered by the Corporation as an encouragement from GRTU to propose similar
projects in the coming future. However, it is disappointing to note that rather
than promoting the benefits of such schemes the article was tainted with
unfounded allegation aimed at discrediting the work and efforts done by the
Corporation.

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