Fabian Demicoli

The Suspension of the ME ERDF Energy Scheme is not acceptable

 GRTU has this week written to the Prime Minister following the fact that GRTU had always objected very strongly that in order to tackle the few identified faults so many more operators are made to suffer, at no fault of their own, when such important scheme are suddenly suspended. This has already happened not so long ago and the effects on the industry were devastating. The industry will not survive another wave of lost orders, idle workers and cash flow crises.

GRTU noted with desolation the suspension of the Malta Enterprise ERDF energy scheme where the installation of PV equipment on commercial and industrial property is mostly affected. The scheme was intended to aid companies install clean energy producing equipment, lowering their utility bills, and in turn aiding the government reach its renewable energy targets. The scheme generated around 300 projects, with a minimum direct effect on at least 600 companies between beneficiaries and suppliers. In the process hundreds of green jobs are created, and the savings done by the beneficiaries allow them to create more jobs.

The amounts of revenue for the Government in taxes, VAT, N.I. and reduction of un-employment benefits greatly outdo the 15% financed by the Maltese Government paid as grant. The scheme should also help the Government avoid hefty penalties or having to resort to buying green credits from other EU countries by the end of 2012 to counteract not reaching the renewable energy target of 2%, and also helps reduce emissions from our power-stations reducing illnesses and health related costs.

GRTU therefore believed this en-bloc suspension is anti-commercial, indiscriminate and will have an adverse effect on the country as a whole. It is counterproductive in the sense that while it safeguards a relatively small amount of cash, it compromises much larger amounts and benefits as described above. It also creates huge difficulties due to cash flow issues, as well as loss of confidence in government institutions. It will hit hard hundreds of firms at a difficult time, endangering all the government and private sector have painstakingly been working hard to avoid, loss of jobs.

GRTU insisted that following two detailed investigations carried out, one by ME's auditors and the other by independent auditors, to find out which companies were involved in wrongdoing, it is believed that given the suspension ME must have a list of ‘presumed guilty' suppliers, although this is legally not correct.

Likewise, ME should have a clear picture of which companies are ‘presumed innocent', and with such information at hand, ME should publish the list of the companies that are ‘presumed innocent' and revise the en-bloc suspension to a selective one, allowing ‘presumed innocent' companies to carry on business as usual. The published list should be continuously and timely updated as more investigations are carried out and more companies are declared innocent.

GRTU is all in favour of Government taking harsh action towards those proven guilty so that a repeat is avoided but the rest cannot be affected. It is not acceptable for all other beneficiaries to suffer, the Scheme must not be suspended.

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