The Maltese-Italian Chamber of Commerce has said it is shocked by Economy Minister Silvio Schembri remarks that third-country nationals who lose their jobs will have to return to their countries of origin.
“In Malta there are thousands of companies owned by expats and Italians, among the most important companies in terms of turnover and number of employees,” the Chamber said. “These are owned by foreigners who in recent years have made huge investments on the island in various sectors including gaming, industrial, technological, bars, restaurants and more and who have employed and given work to thousands of Maltese and foreign citizens, as a tax payers the latter have the same rights as Maltese citizen.”
“In this moment we should be thinking about protecting everyone’s health, rather than dividing us. As everyone knows and repeats, the coronavirus does not distinguish between nationalities.”
“We are sure that the minister’s words are the result of a misunderstanding.”
During a debate on the COVID-19 coronavirus in Parliament last night, Schembri brushed off concerns by third-country nationals who are facing deportation after their employers informed them that their work permits won’t be renewed.
“I might get criticised for this but I want to be clear that charity begins at home and our main goal must be to safeguard the jobs of Maltese workers,” he said. “Discussions are ongoing with the Home Affairs Ministry for [third country nationals] to return to their country once their work permit expires.”
— Roberta Metsola MEP (@RobertaMetsola) March 17, 2020
PN MEP Roberta Metsola criticised Schembri for his comments.
“What a terrible way to treat people who made Malta and Gozo their home, strengthened our communities & helped fuel our economic growth This dog-whistle politics is totally irresponsible. There should be no place for it. Not when we’re all pushing back against COVID-19 & not ever,” she tweeted.