The Maltese maritime industry, represented by the Malta Maritime Forum is perplexed, to say the least, that it has been largely overlooked by Government in the measures that have been announced to date to assist those economic activities which have been adversely affected by the coronavirus.
After due consultation with the representatives of the industry, the Maritime Forum draws the attention of the Government that the maritime industry in Malta accounts for 23,000 jobs, an added value to the Maltese economy estimated at Euro 2 billion per year and a contribution of 7 % to the total domestic economy. Relegating such a forceful economic motor to an assistance of a day’s salary per week per employee week is an injustice to the industry and shows a detachment of the policymaker from the reality on the ground.
This industry has never had any form of assistance from Government and yet it keeps the lifeline for Malta’s foreign trade; our ports functioning professionally and uninterruptedly; our terminals attracting foreign trade which is substantially higher than the local trade and our ancillary maritime services supporting the vibrant port activity that has contributed so much for the national wealth created over the years.
The stakeholders in this industry are Malta’s unsung ambassadors who invest their private money to market Maritime Malta which has, over the years, developed into success stories: the Malta flag, the Malta Freeport, the Malta Cruise Port and so many other successful economic activities.
Relegating the maritime industry to the class of economic activities “less affected” by the coronavirus is unfortunate and unfair. Unfortunate because economic support during a crisis should not depend on a NACE classification. Unfair because it is symptomatic of the low esteem meted to the maritime industry. Our Forum was not consulted at any stage, nor invited to sit at the negotiation table together with the other social partners and hence our voice was not heard.
The investment in people that the maritime industry has undertaken over the years cannot and should not be sacrificed because of a storm that is blowing over our islands and the rest of the world. The resources that the country has diligently amassed through the taxes paid by Maltese enterprises should be put to work in times of need and hence we appeal to Government to assist the maritime industry which has seen its activity drop by more than 50% in a matter of one month.