Opposition leader Bernard Grech has called for a revision of the way the government adjusts salaries to compensate for inflation, warning the current COLA mechanism is “outdated”.
“Politicians have a duty to address this problem,” Grech said when interviewed on NET FM this morning. “Many people cannot even afford basic shopping and we must revise the COLA mechanism in a manner that makes sense and reflects inflation.”
“Pensions didn’t increase as they should have increased because the mechanism is outdated. We must look forward and think of everyone, not only the ministries and their friends who collect paintings, take secret commissions, or earn three salaries for false consultancies.”
“They’re doing fine but we’re listening to the experiences of those who can’t keep up and they deserve a decent life too.”
Introduced in 1991, the COLA mechanism adjusts salaries every year to compensate for inflation, with changes in prices based on the retail price index. The annual COLA adjustment is traditionally announced during the Budget, with the most recent adjustment calculated at €1.75 a week.
However, PN MP Ivan Bartolo recently called for the COLA mechanism to distinguish between high-income earners, low-income earners and people at risk of poverty, seeing as inflation is felt much more by lower-tier earners.
“The one-size-fits-all approach does not work for these people and, if anything, COLA does nothing to prevent them from getting closer to the edge of poverty,” he said. “We need to look towards a system which reflects more realistically the inflationary effects on the different social classes.”
In his interview today, Grech criticised the government for trying to ignore the problem before eventually stating that inflation was the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit.
“They’ll probably blame the PN too,” he quipped. “They’ve been in government for nine years and a [Misco] survey found that cost of living increased at an alarming rate over the past three years.”
“Of course prices increased in the past, even under a PN government, but the alarming rate they increased over the past three years, before the pandemic, shows that many people are suffering.”
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