Left: Cristiano Blanco, Right: Economy Minister Silvio Schembri
An iGaming worker has warned that Malta’s economy will suffer badly if foreigners were to depart en masse as a result of the current COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.
Cristiano Blanco, head of gaming at the Kindred Group, spoke out after Economy Minister Silvio Schembri said that third-country nationals who lose their work permit as a result of the current global economic fallout will have to return to their countries of origin.
The minister was citing a longstanding EU law for third country nationals but several people, Maltese, EU nationals and third country nationals alike, accused him of being insensitive.
And although, as an Italian national, Schembri’s comments didn’t apply to him, Blanco still felt hurt enough to post an emotional warning to the minister.
“You really hurt me with your words,” he said. “Maybe I was lucky but I always met amazing Maltese people, all very welcoming with me. However, if I will be not protected by the government after living (and paying €s) in Malta for over three years, well… this is wake up call for me.”
“I was not expecting that. But don’t worry, if I will lose my job I will be on a flight the minute after.”
“Paying taxes elsewhere, maybe where the banks will give me a mortgage treating me as a local instead than asking me the double of the deposit compared to a Maltese (by the way, I still think this is not compliant with EU rules… but we will discover it soon). Believe me, Malta is a lovely island, but I will be more than happy to be back home if I will not have a job anymore.”
He also warned that, if the current widespread shift to remote working works out fine, some workers may even leave Malta without losing their jobs.
“Last thing, I will leave, don’t worry. And with me a lot of other professionals who were called in to the island because it was not possible to find that skills set within locals. The vast majority of the “foreigners” are professionals, they can leave anytime. If I was in your position I would be worried about the foreigners that will stay, because they don’t have any option rather than stay. I would be very worried if I were you.”
“I send you my warmest regards wishing you that, even without foreigners paying taxes, you managed well enough the finances of your country to be able to pay the well-deserved pensions to the Maltese people, that to my eyes are much better than you are.”
“I struggle to see how you could get that role. If you were working in a normal company you would have been probably fired after those words. Luckily for you, you can’t be fired and lose your job… or maybe yes… it is just a matter of time. For everyone.”
Pierre Lindh, the managing director of Ambassadör Events, said that while Schembri was was merely quoting an existing EU law, the government should be crystal clear in sending a message of unity between the Maltese, Europeans and third country nationals at this time.
“We are all in this together,” he said.