The Government has on various occasions given the message that it would like to find a balance. However, the recent measures are far from reaching a balance and not addressing the true problem which is enforcement. The Association of Catering Establishments (ACE) has condemned the behaviour of the few which led to the increase in numbers. Most catering establishments have observed the protocols but yet again due to the lack of enforcement on the true problem once again ACE members have to pay the price. Health authorities bullied small micro enterprises yet did not address the real problem and known regular breaches were left engaging into illegal practices. It was easy for them to attack the small entrepreneurs rather than addressing the bullies. Catering Establishments, Bars and clubs have been the continuous target of the Health Authorities showing that the Ministry is very weak in handling the situation and has no real adequate strategy.
A year late Authorities have not even solved the licensing issues which was also a major issue in certain operations including certain licensed snack bars operating as strip clubs. These were the real issues. Honest businesses suffer, BULLIES enjoy the flaws of an archaic system
ACE does not agree with Prof Gauci statement that catering establishments are a source for diffusion and calls for the publication of such studies , if any, compared with the studies showing that the mass events in households and other places. ACE would like also to see the monitoring of cases and the diffusion as occurred in schools which have no longer been communicated. The health authorities should also publish the depression and other mental issues including suicidal rates of entrepreneurs in view of the circumstances. The process is not a transparent one and the measures taken are only a PR exercise to be seen to be taking measures. Catering Establishments are NOT the problem and the Health Authorities are perfectly aware of this. The Government in its PR exercise has made out of Restaurants the Sacrificial Lamb.
The ACE condemns the Government attitude taken today whereby it also failed to give the necessary notice to ensure that establishments take care of the existent stock. Will Government be refunding the stock establishments are now stuck with? Also how about rents, water and electricity bills , MTA licences and other fixed costs. Will Government ensure that the establishments are refunded or will it leave Catering Establishments as a pure sacrifice to the extent that more closures come into effect? Given the situation one appreciates the full wage supplement which is however now not enough. In spite of the wage supplement, the establishments have been incurring losses. Members of ACE are already laying off employees in view of the unsustainable circumstance.
ACE encourages its members to manage its already depleted cash flow in a very prudent manner which may also mean the delay of payments of preferential creditors. Authorities have closed establishments the second time, they have forced for strong measures yet the relevant authorities amongst other the Commissioner for Revenue, the Health Authorities and the Malta Business Registry have not taken account of the situation and are rendering businesses insolvent.