SME Chamber

Government Public Consultation

During the
Public Consultation with Hon Joe Mizzi, Minister  for Transport and Infrastructure, the issue of
parking in Sliema was debated. GRTU's Deputy President Mr Philip Fenech
emphasised that whenever there is a change in traffic management one has to be
extremely careful not to distort the economic equilibrium.

He explained that
the linkages of the economy in a town centre are built up throughout the years
also through the synergies between businesses themselves. Most of shoppers in
Sliema don't go simply to buy from a particular outlet and leave they enjoy a
full shopping experience. They buy items, go around window shopping and they
stop for a coffee or a snack. Experience has shown GRTU that in other areas
where there have been drastic changes in traffic management the result was measured
loss of business. Hence its consultation is very important prior to any changes
being implemented.

During the
Public Consultation with Michael Farrugia, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Simplification of
Administrative Processes, the parking commuting scheme was discussed. Philip Fenech explained that
many businesses paid thousands of Euros to the parking commuting scheme and so
far have not received any parking spaces in return for their clients. He
insisted that Government should use the large amount of money that has been
paid in building car parks in town centres to service these businesses.

Philip Fenech
also mentioned the excessive bureaucracy for cafeterias, bars and restaurants
to be able to place table and chairs in front of these establishment. He asked
for a more practical solution to this never ending issue. He also asked for
more practicality when it came to shops displaying on their façades and front
doors pots, plants, wearing apparel, etc… Mr Fenech explained at the same
time that he fully understood that pavements should not be blocked in any way
that hindered people with special needs from passing, use of pushchairs, etc…

On bureaucracy
Mr Fenech explained SMEs had little time for paperwork and should be left to
concentrate on running their business. He congratulated the Parliamentary
Secretary on the appointment of a Commissioner for the elimination of
bureaucracy. He asked the Parliamentary Secretary to meet GRTU on this issue at
his earliest to discuss the issue of bureaucracy for SMEs and the dossier GRTU
has prepared specifically on this topic.

Michael Farrugia said the question of
car parks in town centres was being looked at in further detail. He also agreed
that Malta being a Mediterranean climate needed to be more practical on
regulating table and chairs in open spaces and regarding overall bureaucracy.
He stated that Government was taking this seriously and that he would be
meeting GRTU to work together on bureaucracy affecting SMEs.                  

During an open consultation meeting with the Deputy Prime
Minister for European
Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto
Hon Louis Grech
and Parliamentary Secretary for the Eu Presidency 2017 and EU Funds Hon Ian
Borg, GRTUs Deputy President Philip Fenech explained how urgent we require the
launch of schemes such as JEREMIE, Micro Guarantee, the Employment Aid
Programme and the Training Aid Framework.

Philip Fenech said that we are currently in a gap and many
employers are awaiting for these schemes to be launched as was promised in
order to make necessary investments, restructuring and employment. Mr Fenech
asked at what point was Malta in its preparation to launch the MicroGuarantee
and the next JERAMIE scheme and when was Government planning to launch the EAP,
TAF as was promised in the budget. GRTU has for months been waiting for such
schemes to be launched which have been delayed due to what appears to be
inexplicably lengthy negotiations for the Micro Guarantee and untimely
preparations, EU funding timelines and change in Government for the JERAMIE
scheme, the EAP and the TAF.

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary replied saying that
they appreciated how important such instruments were for SMEs and Government is
working hard to reinstate the schemes mentioned. Government has applied for the
JERAMIE fund and it is currently in the processing of issuing tenders but it should
be in place by the end of next month.

The Micro Guarantee is still a priority and they are going to
put it in place in order to ensure the sustaining of  new business generation that required
assistance through Government guarantees.

On the EAP and TAF they increased the workforce at ETC  to cut down on the immense backlog the
schemes had and on which employers had been waiting for reimbursement of funds
even for years. The Parliamentary Secretary confirmed these will be part of the
next funding period and soon other schemes will come out that will put in 3.8M
for investment in training.

Other important items mentioned were that the Consultation
process will be improved through more transparency so that draft laws would be
made available for citizens to view. The appointment of a Commissioner against
bureaucracy and the importance the Government will be giving to the presidency
of the EU which will come at a very interesting and important time for both
Malta and the EU and will give is the opportunity to show how serious and
efficient we are.

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