Fabian Demicoli

GRTU calls for involvement of business representatives and presents the priorities for its members


Last week during a cordial meeting requested by GRTU with the Hon Dr Ian Borg,
Parliamentary Secretary for the EU presidency 2017 and EU funds, GRTU President
Paul Abela, called for the early involvement of enterprise representatives as
what we have learnt from past experience is that once decisions are taken it is
very difficult to make changes.

The
meeting was called because Government is currently in the process of making
important decisions and committing with the European Commission on how the one billion
euros will be spent. GRTU stated that we do not want to learn about schemes
that target our members after these are published and no changes would be
possible. The Authorities and business representatives have to work closely and
together come up with schemes that target the needs of enterprise. GRTU
mentioned that such an operation model has already proved successful through a
number of schemes GRTU has been involved in and this was acknowledged by the
Parliamentary Secretary who said that he appreciates our involvement in the PV
scheme and the Employment Aid Programme in Gozo, which also led to the
successful uptake of such schemes.

GRTU
gave an overview of our experience and that of our members with regards to the
administration of the last funding period, with the aim of learning from past
experience. GRTU called for less bureaucratic processes and more simplification.
It also called for more transparency and accountability when applications are
refused, based on clear criteria and not on the whims of individuals. We also
emphasized that the applicants should not be the only ones made to adhere to
strict deadlines, the authorities entrusted with issuing payments and
reimbursements should also be bound by strict deadlines.

GRTU
suggested increasing the use of pre-financing so that funds are really made
accessible to those that need them most and they are not made to wait months or
years to get the reimbursement. GRTU also requested immediate assistance when
it comes to e-commerce, aid to export and to upgrade to the required standards.
Certain incentives should be made available on a more frequent of even
permanent basis and be demand driven as enterprises cannot time their
investment needs with the availability of schemes. This should be the case for
investments in employment, machinery and renewable energy products.

A
problem which is affecting all enterprises and which is heavily impinging on
the country's productivity is traffic. GRTU called for funds to address this
situation and to also encourage the private sector to invest in alternative
means of transport. GRTU also called for funds to better utilize resources in
the locality, help start-ups materialise their ideas and increase production of
high quality local produce, especially for the agri-tourism and crafts sector.

Hon
Borg on his part welcomed GRTU's proposals and confirmed to GRTU that there
will be incentives available for enterprises immediately in 2014. He also
assured GRTU will be involved in the consultation the Government will be
carrying out to plan a more detailed way in which Malta will be spending the
funds.

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