Malta was staring down the barrel of a major food shortage last year due to threats of a prolonged strike at an Italian port, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has revealed.
“My blood ran cold when we were discussing Malta’s food supply [between April and May 2020],” Caruana, who back then was the Prime Minister’s head of secretariat, said when interviewed by Newsbook.
“We import most of our food and a lot of it comes from Italy, but workers in the Port of Genoa were planning to go on strike because they were getting infected with COVID-19 and wanted a raise.”
“However the management refused and they threatened a prolonged strike. Had the Port of Genoa shut down, a substantial amount of food that’s imported to Malta wouldn’t have come.
“We all know how toilet paper used to fly off the shelves [at the start of the pandemic] and I remember the Prime Minister and I staring at each other and wondering what would happen if this port were to shut down, word were to spread, and people were to start panicking.”
Caruana said he summoned Malta’s major food importers and supermarkets to a late night meeting without letting them know in advance what the topic of discussion would be.
However, when he spoke of his fears, they assured him that Malta had enough food stock to supply the island for three months and that they were already in contact with other countries to reach a fallback solution if the Port of Genoa were to shut down.
“Although [a food shortage] never happened, it makes you think. Had it happened, we’d have witnessed excess panic, as we saw in the UK when food started flying off their supermarket shelves.”
Photo left: The Port of Genoa (www.cruisemapper.com), Photo right: Clyde Caruana during a Newsbook interview
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