SME Chamber

GRTU holds important consultation meeting on the next funding period 2014 – 2020

In July 2013
Government launched a public consultation on the Programming of European Funds
for Malta 2014-2020. The basis of this consultation is a document outlining
Government's vision and the Maltese and EU priorities on which the funds will
be spent. GRTU held a consultation meeting for members in order to explain to
them what was Government proposing and gather their feedback on what funds they
feel they need to help the country reach the objectives outlined.

GRTU President Paul Abela
opened the meeting by stating that GRTU was already involved in discussions on
the subject with the Deputy Prime Minister Mr Louis Grech and the Parliamentary
Secretary for EU funds Dr. Ian Borg. Mr Abela emphasised that the consultation
stage is very important as after this stage Government will finalise a
document, which is agreed with the European Commission, detailing how it
intends to spend the €1.1B If
someone or something is left out it will be very difficult to have it included
at a later stage as it will be a closed deal.

GRTU's EU Desk explained that the
funds will be focused on five key areas of investment namely: education, the
environment, the private sector, healthcare facilities and social inclusion.
The vision is divided in three funding priorities covering eleven so-called
thematic objectives. A detailed presentation outlining each thematic objective
was delivered and a fruitful discussion was held.

From the
discussion the following points came out:

While the funds
have a national scope Government will seek the involvement of the private
sector. Therefore each company needs to think how it can contribute the making
the vision a reality and what help and support would be needed to do this.

Access to finance
for the private sector should be made available through a mix of financial
instruments including grants, loan guarantees, loans with an advantageous
interest rate, etc…

Grants to buy
machinery are important

Enterprise needs more skills to be in a better position to understand and help
the private sector

Importance of
assistance for e-commerce, similar to a scheme that was in place, as well as
assistance to export and internationalise and to train workers and employ
highly skilled individuals to be more competitive, especially when compared to
the expertise of foreign companies

Basic aid
schemes such as the Employment Aid Programme and the Training Aid Framework
need to be made available on a constant basis because businesses cannot be expected
to time their employment and training needs to when schemes are made available.
In addition to this pre-financing is also something that would encourage
businesses to make use of schemes as there were a lot of issues with the
previous method of reimbursement.

Assistance for
restructuring and upgrading in line with the required standards and regulations
is required. Certain sectors are required by law to upgrade their machinery
which involves a heavy expense; therefore assistance in this regard is needed.

Parking was
another main issue which could be addressed with the help of funds. Retailers
complained with the current parking situation. This problem however could be
mitigated, according to the vision outlined by Government, through alternative
transport means including sea transport and also investment in infrastructure
and facilities.

Support for
investment for the general upgrade within industrial areas and factories as
currently some factories are operating in sub-standard situations and the
investment required is significant.

given by Government need to be recognised by the banks as many businesses find
problems in making use of such incentives when dealing with the banks.

Increase in
Vocational Education and Training which focuses on skills and addresses
individuals finding difficulty to fit in the current educational framework.

Upgrade of
stores for the importation and distribution sectors.

Funds should be
allocated for the set-up of alternative means of transport to the only one
currently available which is used for freight forwarding.

Investments by
the private sector in anything having to do with energy efficiency, cleaner
energy and finding alternative energy sources is encouraged and specific
request for assistance should be made by the private sector in this regard.

Certain sectors
such as the suppliers of energy efficient equipment depend on the issuance of
schemes and therefore these should be made available at periodic intervals in a
way as to keep the sector active throughout the funding period and not issue
multiple schemes in a very short timeframe as was the case in recent years.

Support for
research related to energy, climate change and the environment.

Aid to
enterprises investing in empty buildings to convert them into saleable housing
or an enterprise that can generate employment within the locality and therefore
reducing the problem of congestion in the centres.

Better support
when applying for funds and filling in applications and further dissemination
activities and campaigns when a scheme is issued.

Job creation is
another priority therefore businesses should present ideas on the support they
would need to generate jobs.

More incentives
and assistance for start-ups and helping an individual who has an idea to
convert it into a business.

GRTU will be presenting a document
outlining its priorities and that of its members for funding under the 2014 –
2020 period. Individuals having ideas are encouraged to inform GRTU so as to
have them included in GRTU's proposals.

The public consultation closes on 6th September 2013,
by which feedback can be sent directly to and to GRTU on .

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