Written by Blog, The Union

The financial impact of the pandemic

The global economy has been hit hard by the pandemic. Now that the vaccination against Covid-19 is in full swing in many countries, every country is doing everything it can to get back on its feet economically. This is also true for Malta. In June 2020, the government distributed €100 worth of vouchers to every Maltese resident over the age of 16. This initiative has given a good boost to restaurants, hotels, and shops. It is worth noting that in the first campaign, the effect on the Maltese economy was around €90 million. Twice as much as the government invested in the introduction of the measure.

The government analysed the situation and saw that it was a very good initiative and very helpful for Maltese businesses. Therefore, we believe that this year the same investment of €50 million will be reciprocated with an increase in domestic consumption. At the moment everyone is waiting for the vouchers so that by the first week of June all the shops can re-open, and the good weather can be enjoyed by all. The pandemic has brought everyone home and at first everyone enjoyed life a little easier, but as the saying goes, every day the same old same old gets boring and people get angry inside. Also, many people suffer from what is called pandemic fatigue. It is important for people to start resting because there is a lot of mental fatigue.

Vouchers will be distributed to families and individuals who have turned sixteen by April. Those foreigners who are allowed to reside in Malta are also eligible. The structure of this year’s vouchers will be slightly different. This time they will focus a little more on those shops that were designated as non-essential during the pandemic and therefore remained closed for a little longer than other shops. Also, last year the coupons were more or less a challenge to collect, but this year they can be accessed much easier online.

During the summer days, many foreign students come to learn English. As in previous years, Malta has offered vouchers to this group to encourage them to visit our islands. Those foreign students over the age of 13 who spend at least fifteen nights here in Malta and whose main aim is to learn English are entitled to €10 per day. This scheme will be capped at €300.

The pandemic has affected everyone, both employers and employees. There are a large number of workers who have lost their hours and perhaps even overtime. Businesses are reopening, but the pandemic has left a huge financial ruin and the effects will be felt for months to come. This is where many families want to do something but are a bit discouraged due to their financial situation.

A large number of families spent long weeks on the Covid Wage Supplement, paying the bills but unable to afford to go out to eat, or do anything that is considered inessential. During the pandemic, we had many of our members turned to us for help because they were afraid of losing their jobs. Many meetings were held with a large number of companies we work with to find the best possible solution for our member workers so that they do not end up unemployed.

Sometimes you need to be in the situation to understand how difficult and stressful the pandemic has been and still is for some families. The great fears of being unemployed, the financial problems that can impact families, the mental illnesses that can lead to constant stress, it’s a never-ending battle.

The government will give out these vouchers so families can go out and enjoy a little without having to worry about their financial situation.

The economic wheel has slowly started to turn, but that doesn’t preclude the mental and financial problems that have accumulated over the past long months from still being there. From the recently released statistics, as of March 2021, 39.9% of Maltese were still suffering from loneliness. 30.5% are still experiencing pandemic-related difficulties at work. 61.7% are more alert when people around them show symptoms of illness. 78.0% are still seriously concerned about the health of their loved ones. 33.7% still find it difficult to provide their families with food and basic needs.

These statistics clearly show how important these vouchers are both to residents, families in Malta and to the Maltese economy. There is no point in opening businesses when society is suffering financially. After the devastation left by the pandemic, society needs a boost to take heart and move forward together towards a new normal. These vouchers are a great incentive to leave no one out, because as the GWU has always believed that everyone is equal and everyone should be treated equally. It wouldn’t be a fair society if we said we opened up the economy to everyone, but a significant percentage of society wouldn’t be able to afford to leave the house and take advantage of the fact that businesses are open. Gradually and with the slightest help from every possible source it puts Malta in a better financial position to improve the mental state of many. The Dalai Lama stood up for humanity and said, “Just as ripples spread our when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”

Krystabel Galea