Fabian Demicoli

Programming of European Funds for Malta 2014 – 2020

GRTU highlights the priorities
for its members and calls for improvements in the administration of EU funds – GRTU Malta Chamber of SMEs has
replied to the public consultation on the ‘Programming of European Funds for
Malta 2014-2020' with a comprehensive document which outlined the priorities
expressed by its members and also how decisive improvements were needed in the
way funds were administered.

This follows an intensive internal
consultation carried out with GRTU members where two consultation meetings were
held, one in Malta and one in Gozo, where GRTU explained Government's vision
and guidelines as outlined in the public consultation document and gathered feedback
from members. The majority of enterprises present for the consultation
expressed their disappointment at some stage or another when having touched
with funds and incentives in the past. Enterprises still have a very negative
perception of EU funds and for many their experiences at one point or another
has turned sour.

In order to make serious improvements
to the next programming period that will run for 7 years, GRTU has called for
greater assistance and specialized helpdesks to assist enterprises in accessing
funds and incentives, reduction of bureaucracy and a simplification exercise
across the board, greater transparency and accountability with regards to the
why projects are approved or refused and having the criteria clearly outlined
in black on white and not having to depend on the whims of an adjudicator. GRTU
also called for the authorities and those responsible to adhere to set
deadlines for issuing reimbursements and holding appeals, where required.

We have welcomed Government's
approach in involving the private sector, something mentioned throughout the
consultation document. GRTU has requested a mix of financial instruments
including grants, loan guarantees and loans with an advantageous interest rate,
etc… to cater for the various needs of enterprises. Enterprises want more
assistance and incentives related to e-commerce and exports. We want basic
schemes targeted at the private sector related to subsidised employment and
training and investment in upgrading machinery and purchasing of renewable
energy mechanisms to be made permanent as enterprises cannot time their
investment needs with the short period during which schemes are made available.
GRTU and its members also called for assistance for enterprises to restructure and
upgrade to required or international standards.

GRTU supported Government's intention
to alleviate the problem of traffic congestion by assisting alternative means
of transport including transport by sea and called to include the problem of
parking in the strategy as well as incentivise the use and conversion of empty
buildings into accommodation facilities, child and elderly care centres and
offices, which could boost our localities and alleviate traffic in the
traditional centres. GRTU called for increased assistance for start-ups and
helping business ideas to materialise. We called on more incentives for
enterprises to invest in locally produced products of high quality, supporting
investments in agri-tourism and supporting the crafts sector and the restructuring
of crafts centres.

Gozo enterprises members of GRTU
asked for funds to go to increased transport facilities between the two islands
as well as special assistance that would facilitate and alleviate the cost of
transport of goods and services. It was however emphasized that these were just
incentives aimed at mitigating the current situation which should be resolved
with a permanent link between Malta and Gozo in the future.

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