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Lino Spiteri Foundation Launch
From The Malta Independent (by Duncan Barry)
Today, the Lino Spiteri Foundation was launched at MSV Life’s premises in Floriana – a joint venture between Empower, which is a initiative made up of businessmen seeking to create employment opportunities for persons with a disability, and the Employment and Training Corporation.
The foundation’s board of trustees comprises Joe Gasan (chairman), ETC CEO Philip Rizzo, and ETC representative Gaetano Tanti, Education and Employment Ministry representative Pamela Muscat and Nathan Farrugia (executive director).
Mr Gasan explained that the aim of this joint venture is to find permanent work for persons with a disability. Mr Curmi said that MSV Life is an example of success when it comes to the employment of such persons since it has been taking in persons with a disability and coaching them for as long as 16 years.
He explained that companies who want to employ the persons who have been trained at MSV Life by job coaches for years can do so and such persons will be replaced by others and the process of coaching new employees with such challenges can start all over again.
Mr Curmi said that this concept, that of employing persons with a disability, initially was the idea of Lino Spiteri (the late former economist and politician) – one which developed along the years and which is no longer considered to be an experiment but a business solution.
ETC chairman Clyde Caruana said that the agency is soon to launch ‘Access to Employment’ – a similar version to the Employment Aid Programme which seeks to help such persons integrate in the labour market.
In addition, the ETC will also be administering 25% of the salary of persons with a disability whereby companies will receive this subsidy in the form of tax credits.
‘Enforcement’ of the 1969 law
Turning to the budgetary measure enforcing a 1967 law to encourage companies to employ persons with a disability after this newsroom asked whether this law will in actual fact be enforced, Mr Rizzo explained that it is useless stating that all companies have to adhere to this law since not all companies can employ such persons. What these companies can do, he suggested, is contribute in other ways such as paying their yearly compensation fee for instance.
The law requires companies employing 30 or more persons to employ persons with disabilities – at least two per cent of their workforce. The government had said that employers who refused to abide by this law will be asked to pay a yearly compensation fee of €2,400 up to €10,000.
He continued: “Companies should not be held at gunpoint and forced to employ such persons without the authorities taking into consideration certain aspects, but we need to sit down and discuss a way forward,” Mr Rizzo said.