Budget initiatives to strengthen retail industry even further
The Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, Dr Chris Cardona addressed a seminar entitled Retail Industry – Changing the Paradigm? organised by the Chamber of Commerce as part of SME week.
Minister Cardona outlined how the retail sector in Malta is one of the most important contributors to the Maltese economy and has stayed strong despite global shocks and local challenges. Eurostat and NSO statistics show that in July of this year, Malta was among the top countries in the EU in terms of increase in sales from shops, with an increase of 5% over the same month last year when compared to the Eurozone average of 2.7%.
“We should be happy that the country is on the right path and boasting a strong economy, but there is no room for complacency. We face global competition. If we want to keep the economy moving forward, we are going to have to work at it,” stated Min- ister Cardona.
As outlined in a high- level expert group on retail sector innovation, published by the EU Commission in 2014, retail faces challenges ranging from consumers’ purchasing power, rising commodity prices, demographic trends, in particular the aging of the EU population, and the drive for sustainability and e-commerce.
Minister Cardona recognised these challenges and called for the necessary reinvention of the sector so as to remain solid, resilient and flexible. Minister Cardona profiled some measures on just how the government is working on this aim.
Through Malta Enterprise, government is providing several schemes which could assist the retail sector. The Micro Guarantee covers loans of up to a €100,000 from a commercial bank when used to improve business operations. Micro Invest is a tax credit of 45% or 65% for businesses operating from Malta and Gozo respectively. Certify is another tax credit scheme of 50% in respect of consultancy services expenses incurred in order to obtain necessary certifications or to abide with obligatory standards. Minister Cardona also mentioned the consultancy services Malta Enterprise is offering, in business planning, financial planning and change management.
Minister Cardona also mentioned how government has taken it upon itself to cut even more bureaucratic tape. The Commerce Department, which issues hundreds of licenses a year, has made online applications available, as well as a free online trademark searches to check for availability.
“I thank you for the huge contribution that the retail sector makes to the Maltese economy. Long may it prosper. We certainly intend to be at your side to help in the years ahead,” concluded Minister Cardona.