In an interview with The Malta Independent’s Kevin Schembri Orland, The Malta Chamber President, Perit David Xuereb spoke about what this year holds in terms of economic opportunities and challenges, and Malta returning to ‘business as usual’.
The Chamber President said that reaching the economic levels of 2019 will most likely take at least two years. “According to The Malta Chamber assessment, although a sense of normality would be reached as soon as herd immunity is achieved in terms of everyday life, the quality of life that we were experiencing in 2019 will take around two to three years to attain,” he said.
Commenting on the Prime Minister’s statement, that he wants to see the country return to business as usual by May, Xuereb noted that “it would be incredibly unrealistic to think that all economic issues would be resolved.”
When asked about his predictions for 2021, The Chamber President said: “What will determine the success in which we achieve ‘business as usual’ is the manner in which public funds are spent,”. Noting “Last year, our 10% deficit was brought about not only due to a reduction in business but also because we were justifiably spending a lot of funds on the wage supplement in order to retain employment. If that money was not spent, we would have had many thousands of people facing unemployment. So the ability to pay those wages and retain people in employment over the past months now helps the economy to react and adjust itself more quickly” he said.
The Chamber President emphasised the importance of understanding how effective the vaccine is in the long term to truly assess if an improvement can be seen on the horizon for businesses through enhanced consumer confidence in the second half of 2021.
“I really hope that in June we would have 80% of the population vaccinated in order to plan and implement the required re-engineering schemes to restore Malta’s economy,” noted Xuereb.
The Chamber President concluded by saying that although The Malta Chamber wishes to heighten business activity across the country, it would be highly irresponsible to act too quickly. “We should therefore act responsibly if we are to drive for a truly improved national quality of life based on honesty and intelligence,” said Xuereb.